Lifelong learning with Lindsey Beagley

Highlighting Mirabella at ASU’s Musicians in Residence Program

May 18, 2022

History of the Musicians in Residence Program

The outstanding Musicians in Residence program began in 2019 when Heather Landes, Director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, proposed the idea. It had a lot of potential as a mutually beneficial program with experiential learning opportunities for students. It also had the potential to bring high caliber music experiences to a community of people who were highly oriented to arts and culture. 

There were many things to work out, of course. We asked many questions! What’s a fair expectation for performance obligations given that they are students first and foremost? Where would they perform and what equipment do we need for them? How long would the program run and how would we recruit and select?

Herberger Institute assigned Samuel Peña, Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Popular Music, to work with Lindsey Beagley to design the program. Samuel really advocates for the needs of interests of the students in the program design. He understands the rigor and demands of their academic programs, the seasonality of semester schedule, and how to best identify and recruit students. Samuel’s research and practice are focused on participatory music and engagement, so he designed the “flex engagement” as part of the weekly offering from musicians and continues to encourage MIRs to work with and respond to the needs and wants of the Mirabella community.

Lindsey Beagley’s role is to help reconcile the needs of the college with the needs of Mirabella operations, to support the day-to-day needs of the students, and to keep the project moving forward, iterating and refining as we discover the potential of this program and how to optimize for it.

New Musicians in Residence

The Musicians in Residence program is an extraordinary showcase of Mirabella at ASU’s intergenerational programming in which four musicians live at Mirabella while attending school full-time at ASU. The residents offer musical programming to Mirabella residents, not to mention friendship and musical collaboration.

This May, two new MIR musicians have joined the 2022-2023 cohort. Eiress Wicks is a vocalist and guitarist focusing on studying for her Master of Music Therapy. She has a Bachelor of Music Therapy from the Berklee College of Music. Michael Shannon is also joining the program as a vocal coach, pianist, and violinist. He will be working toward his Doctorate of Music Arts and Collaborative Piano. Welcome to these new residents!

Eiress Wicks
Michael Shannon

Positive Outcomes of the Program

One major takeaway this year is that MIRs are not just gig performers. One of the best things they do is make music with residents, and challenge residents to grow musically! With that in mind, we created ways for them to explore that more, encouraged them to experiment in new spaces. They showed us that the lobby is gorgeous place for vocals. They showed us that their teaching and conducting was beloved.

We also built in policies that allow them to bring in other musicians to play, which helps to diversify the musical offerings and also increase awareness about Mirabella among other students and faculty.

The other thing we learned is that MIRs are best thought of as fellow residents, not employees. Instead of paying for their apartments through entry fees, they pay through their work infusing this community with music. This is an important distinction we had to consider because our greatest hope is that we will build authentic intergenerational connections through a shared love of the arts.

One of the greatest outcomes of this program is that we have the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and stereotypes about people in other stages of life – both the stereotypes that older people have of young people, and those younger people have of older people.