Friends of Music contributing to Wayland program

May 11, 2011

PLAINVIEW – A little more than three years ago, the Wayland Baptist University School of Music embarked on a plan to build community support for its students and programs through an organization called the Friends of Music. What started with five interested and energetic individuals has blossomed into an organization that is now making a significant impact on the Wayland music program.

Dr. Ann Stutes, Dean of the School of Music, approached longtime supporters Freda and Joe Provence, Jeannine Greene and Kip and Barry Vitato about leading the project. Those five members formed the first FOM board and have sparked a growing interest in support for the fine arts.

“We thought it was a good idea,” said FOM Board President Joe Provence. “It was organized to be an arm of outreach for the school of music; to help promote attendance at the music events and to help raise scholarship money.”

In its first year, the group gave out three small scholarships.

“They were more of a token than anything, to show we were very intentional about raising funds for student tuition support,” Stutes said.

As the group has grown, so has the amount of support. This spring, the FOM handed out $13,000 in scholarships to deserving students.

Students must apply for the scholarships. Applicants are ranked based on merit. No names or personal information are included with the application. Board members tally the scores based on ranks, and scholarships are awarded accordingly. Students applying also participate in a scholarship concert held within the School of Music.

“This year, we had three times as many apply for the scholarships. It was difficult to rate the kids,” Provence said.

Stutes said the program has been beneficial not just for the scholarship assistance, but also for the relationships the Friends of Music promote within the faculty, staff and students.

“It has given the students a connection with the community and alumni, as well as an opportunity to build relationships with people who believe in their vision of becoming music professionals,” Stutes said.

While scholarships have been the primary focus of the Friends of Music, Provence and the other board members are preparing for a major fundraising project. Wayland currently has two concert grand pianos that the school uses for all major Harral Auditorium stage functions. One, however, has completely fallen apart and is beyond repair. The other has already been rebuilt once, but upon inspection by Steinway and Sons representatives, the makers of the piano, the repairman used parts that are not approved by the manufacturers for that piano. School officials have seen the need for a new concert grand piano.

“Our nine-foot Steinway concert grand has far exceeded the life expectancy for a concert instrument at the collegiate level,” Stutes said. “We are in a critical situation. We cannot use it anymore for collegiate service.”

The School of Music and Friends of Music are working with Steinway and Sons to raise funds for a new $120,000 grand piano, specifically manufactured and tuned for performance in Wayland’s Harral Auditorium.

Steinway technicians have already visited Wayland to determine the best style piano for the Harral stage. The next step is for faculty members and Provence to visit Steinway Hall in Dallas, where technicians will have as many as nine pianos of the proper style for faculty members to play and determine if the instruments meet their specifications. Steinway will then bring as many as three pianos to Plainview where other faculty members will have a chance to try the instruments. When the single instrument is selected, technicians will then tune it specifically for optimum performance on the Wayland stage.

In order to complete the project, the FOM has set a fundraising goal of $150,000. This will allow for the purchase of the new piano, the rebuilding of the second piano and will provide a cushion that the School of Music can use as a maintenance fund for the concert instruments. The FOM will soon be sending out information on Steinway’s 88 Keys program. Every piano has 88 keys, and people are encouraged to purchase a key for $1,388. The FOM will also host several other events to raise funds for the project.

“We have several fundraising ideas,” Provence said. “We are planning a grand concert in September to involve some of the best pianists in the Plainview area.”

The concert is set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 17.

For more information on the Friends of Music or the 88 Keys program, contact Linda Grover in Wayland’s School of Music at 806-291-1076 or