ARTS at NOTRE DAME: A Home Away from Home

What has been your most creative experience on campus? When did the spirit of the arts at Notre Dame inspire you? Share your story and you may be featured right here! In this reflection series, students shed light on their creative endeavors under the Golden Dome.

A reflection by Jacob Schrimpf, ND ’16 | October 14, 2014

As a Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) major, I represent a very small group of Notre Dame students studying the arts on a campus dominated by business majors and pre-meds.  One might expect that this minority status detracts from the quality of work produced at Notre Dame, but the number of majors does not reflect the plenitude of good art produced at the University.  On the contrary, Notre Dame promotes a vibrant arts community that draws from a wide range of student talent to bring unique works to campus.  It is in this community that I have found my home at Notre Dame and the foundation for my collegiate experience.

JACOB SCHRIMPF, ND ’16 plays clarinet in the 2013 Young Company production of Comedy of Errors, part of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, in front of the Main Building on campus. Photo by Peter Ringenberg.

Nothing inspires me more than the sound of the Victory March early on a football Saturday; it is the creation of almost 400 dedicated performers in the Band of the Fighting Irish and a grand display of campus musicianship.  My first Notre Dame experience occurred the week before my freshman year when I arrived on campus to audition for this very group.  Filled with nervous butterflies and eager to begin my freshman year, I stepped into the band building on the first day in awe of the commitment and passion of so many dedicated musicians.  Through the band, students of every major and year gather together to produce music in support of the University.  The arts become a central aspect of game day culture and spirit.  The collaboration of so many different students speaks to the strength and diversity of the group – a standout fixture in the Notre Dame arts scene.

My artistic journey at Notre Dame extends beyond my involvement in the band.  As a theatre major, I have also had the opportunity to work with both the FTT department and a number of student theatre groups.  The benefit of a small theatre program is that it allows for consistent student involvement in many different capacities.  I’ve gotten to know my professors on a first name basis, performed a wide range of roles in many different types of plays, worked with professional actors and directors through the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, and made fantastic friends through it all.  My education here allows me to approach the arts in an entirely thoughtful and intelligent manner, a product of Notre Dame’s unique artistic environment.

Recently, I directed PEMCo’s production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  This was an immense growing experience, and I learned many leadership skills and gained a much greater appreciation for the theatre as a whole.  Thanks to the small group of students – FTT majors and non-majors alike – who devote themselves to musical theatre, I was able to pursue this endeavor with an extremely talented group of performers and artists.  At a different school, such an experience would have been more difficult as a sophomore.  Yet it was possible at Notre Dame, another benefit of a small program.

legally blonde

The arts at Notre Dame have helped me find my home away from home. I have met my closest friends, grown in many ways, and benefitted from the passion of a very dedicated group of students.  I often hear people say “Notre Dame is not an arts school.”  While this statement may speak to the size of our program, it does not mean that Notre Dame does not regularly produce quality art.  In fact, the involvement of non-majors allows for varied approaches to the arts, creating a wide range of works.  As a creative student invested in the arts, I have benefited both from my creative journey at Notre Dame and the strong, well-rounded education that I am gaining.


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