Alicia Neal might be a relatively new part of the EIU Department of Music, but her short stay at EIU has already revealed to her that she's part of something special here.
Dr. Neal, the department’s director of bands since Fall 2012, says in addition to being part of a talented and committed faculty, she sees Eastern as a family.
“I really feel like at a school this size I get to know each student,” said Neal. “I get to understand what makes them tick, I know what they do in their spare time. I meet their parents when they come to concerts.
“I like getting to know the people that sit behind the instruments.”
Those types of personal relationships especially come into play when you’re talking about a band or orchestra in which each individual member works with every other individual member to become a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.
“Having the chance to sit with other people, breathe together, and make something beautiful is an experience everyone should have,” said Neal.
It’s a metaphor for the work done by music ensembles, but also one that can apply to the variety of students making up the university as a whole.
“The students here at Eastern are really great people,” said Neal. “I have a chance to work with some of the premiere woodwind, brass and percussion players on campus. We get to do very high-level repertoire, which is a lot of fun and challenging for me.
“I also really like the teaching component — which I get to do with the concert band where we talk a lot about fundamentals — and having a chance to work with non-majors. I think is actually one of the most rewarding parts. about what I get to do.”