News of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's impending visit to UCF has students in a frenzy. But the $10,000 he's bringing with him for the music department has faculty members asking one question: What should we spend it on?
After more than a month of online voting, UCF won a concert with Ed Sheeran as well as funding for its music department through a contest with the textbook rental site Chegg.
With their pockets feeling a little heavier, several students and faculty members agree that the music department's biggest need is more rehearsal and performance space.
Junior music education major Daniel Suarez said that a while back, the UCF music department began discussing plans for Phase II, a new performance hall and rehearsal space for music students. However, the music department has not been able to begin construction on Phase II.
"From my perspective, the department has been left to fend for a large sum of money on its own before construction can begin. It was definitely a huge disclaimer to me when I was auditioning here," said Josh Toler, a sophomore music performance major.
Assistant Director of Bands Dave Schreier added that Phase II is high on the department's priority list.
Junior music education major Angel Amador said that students' current performance hall in the Visual Arts Building is too small, leading students to perform at high schools or the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
"It is embarrassing for me to have to play at high schools," Suarez said. "It's nice that we now have the Dr. Phillips Center, but that is far away."
Additionally, freshman music education major Rebecca Briggs explained that practice rooms in the music building fill up very quickly every day. Some students have to wait a while before they can get into a room to practice.
Students and faculty members — including Tina Fleming, assistant director of marketing for the UCF Performing Arts — believe this grant will bring more recognition to the UCF music department.
"This is just another outlet to get more people to know about the music department, since many people don't think of music as a department," Fleming said.
The $10,000 in conjunction with the Ed Sheeran performance, Schreier said, has already drawn more attention to the performing arts at UCF.
"Social media responses, especially, have been overwhelmingly positive from the student body and community, who seem appreciative of the work we do in the department," he said.
In fact, Toler said he believes this publicity will bring with it larger audiences and a larger student audition rate.
However, Schreier said that because the department has only recently learned of being awarded this grant, the music department has not decided how exactly the money will be spent.
"The possibilities include purchasing new instruments, bringing in guest artists and recording projects from different ensembles," he said.
Right on the horizon is an upcoming event titled "UCF Celebrates the Arts!" which will be held at the Dr. Phillips Center from April 10 through April 15. Fleming hopes some of the money will go toward more promotion for this event.
Schreier agrees he would like to see a portion of the money used to offset some of the costs of "UCF Celebrates the Arts!" because many members of the music department will be performing, and the show is free for audience members.
UCF music students also have their own ideas about how the money should be spent.
Freshman music education major Kayla Smith said she would like the grant to be used to buy new instruments and more software.
"Students need certain technology for music theory, so I think more software will be beneficial," she said.
Meanwhile, biotechnology major and music minor, as well as a member of the Marching Knights, Michelle Cherne, said she would like it if the money went toward new instruments for members of the marching band.
Another member of the Marching Knights, John Taggart would rather the money pay for a new trailer for the band. The senior social science education major and music minor explained that the trailer failed inspection due to mold and health violations.
Breanne O'Leary is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.