Jordan Hicks was lonely.
A freshman at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he was a go-to-classes-and-go-home sort of student. It wasn’t the university itself that was the problem, just his own state of mind, which was so bleak he thought about leaving college altogether.
“I was just lost,” said Hicks, first year coordinator in Department of Performing Arts.
Then, even though he wasn’t a music major (he was a don’t-know-yet major, aka “undecided”), he joined the UTC Chamber Singers. Things changed drastically.
“I was able to lay roots here, in that community,” he said. “I even met my wife in the Chamber Singers.”
He decided to stay at UTC.
His personal experiences are now one of the driving forces behind a new Living Learning program at the University—Music Row.
There’s no official connection between the new program and the historic district in Nashville, famous for its role in country, gospel and contemporary Christian artists.
This fall, 20 students will make their home in Music Row, which at UTC will be a group of residences in Decosimo Apartments. Students don’t have to be music majors, just members of one of the music ensembles at UTC, which include the Chamber Singers, the Marching Mocs, the Jazz Band or the Opera Theatre. The program is open to students at any level and any major, including transfer students.
“Whether they’re an education major, a biology major, a science major, everyone is welcome,” Hicks said. “The tie that brings everyone together is their love of music and that they are involved in music at UTC.”
A similar program—Crescendo—already is in place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but it’s open only to first-year students majoring or minoring in music.
Housing and Residence Life has set aside a section of Decosimo Apartments to start enrolling students in the program in the summer. Although music is the glue, Music Row stretches beyond playing instruments, reading sheet music and listening to Spotify.
“We aren’t planning this just so students can live together. We also want the community to be able to go out and have shared experiences together,” Hicks said.
Those experiences include local concerts, attending presentations by visiting artist or guest lecturers, or just a UTC music faculty member hanging out with the students for an evening.
” We see the ensembles as kind of the Music Department’s program to join and take part, not just in the art of creating music, but in the community building here,” Hicks said. “There are some students out there that, just like me, needed a place to go, needed a home.”
Music Row is still in its infancy, but the word is spreading on social media and word-of-mouth.
“I’ve been approached by a few of our current students, and I’ve also been approached by prospective students,” Hicks said. “The only qualification is be involved in our ensembles and to love music.”