Tougaw: Take a second look at the arts

Taylor Tougaw

Just this year, the Colorado State University chorus saw its ranks swell. Its gained over twice as many members as it had four semesters ago. While this is great news, it hides a less great reason for it. Last year, the CSU concert choir shifted from being a mixed choir, meaning men and women, to being a female only choir. Whats worse, this choir was one of the top ensembles in the school. The reason for the swell in numbers in the University chorus is due to the exodus of many singers from the higher level, audition only concert choir.

The reason that this top level choir shifted to a female only choir is due to the fact that there weren’t enough men to fill out it out. generally there are around 15 men and women each in a top choir of that size. That means that in a university of 30,000 students, one of the top rated ensembles in the whole school couldn’t find just 15 men to participate. How sad is that.

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Fact is, we all know why this is happening. If we cut the crap and say the things we aren’t supposed to say, we know that a lot of guys don’t join choir because it isn’t manly. Its not generally considered a cool thing to do, and people often look at a guy funny when he says he’s in choir. 

This is not unique to choir either. Take any kind of art or performing art and you can immediately tell what its stigma is. Marching band kids are the nerds of school, theater kids are the uptight drama queens, and no one really knows whats going on with orchestra kids. ever. and who would spend money on a painting degree?

What’s sad about this is the fact that the arts as a whole are one of the most popular facets of everyone’s life, all of the time. Did you watch TV today? Yeah i bet you watched a bunch of actors who were in theatre in high school. Did you put in your headphones? I bet it was someone who studied music in college that wrote that song (plot twist: most singers don’t write their own songs).

People don’t want to get involved in music because of the stereotypes of doing so, yet how many people have you heard say that they wish they could sing, play guitar, play piano, dance like that, move like that, be in a movie, draw like that, etc etc. or even how many times have you heard someone just say “Man, I wish i could do that.” They can, they just don’t.

And if you were to go to a professional, classical concert (i.e., orchestras, pops bands, etc) what would you think? Your first thought probably wouldn’t be ‘this is dumb,’ it would be ‘wow, these people are insanely talented. these people get to make music for a living’

Many of the people you admire today were once those nerdy kids back in the day. 

Lady GaGa was in theatre.

Albert Einstein played violin.

Zac Efron was in theatre.

Jennifer Garner was in band.

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Woodrow Wilson played violin.

Jimmy Kimmel played the clarinet.

Kesha was in band.

Even Lil Wayne played the cymbals in band.

The list goes on and on. People you admire today are the people that you would never look twice at in college.

Music, dance, painting, and other creative activities have been shown time and time again to be extremely beneficial to a child’s brain. Learning this skill sets makes kids happier, more focused, and overall smarter.

However, we train kids to get out and build rockets as if that was more important to society. Not that it isn’t important, but what will that future rocket scientist spend their leisure time on? Probably a movie, a concert, or a museum, likely something stemming back to the arts. So i think its safe to say that the hard sciences aren’t overwhelming more important to our society or culture.

And here’s the most important part of this. The arts, as a whole, are the sole reason that we enjoy living. In a school of 30,000, the overwhelmingly tiny minority of students will major in some kind of art that the rest of the school will consume. Business, engineering, biomedical technology, these majors are all experts in how we stay alive. But they aren’t the reason why.

The reason why we live is to go to concerts, or to go to the movies. So we can see our kids first dance recital, or watch our friends on stage. We want to hear that new song from our favorite artist, or go to the museum and see a new kind of painting. All of the majors listed before keep us alive and provide us a society in which we can do the things that we want to do. 

And almost all of the things we look forward to doing, in one way or another, trace their origins back to a student studying something that the rest of us have no idea even exists.

Collegian Opinion Editor Taylor Tougaw can be reached letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @TTougaw.