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Bob Cole Conservatory celebrates 10 years

The music school has been providing scholarships for students.

The+sun+sets+behind+the+Bob+Cole+Conservatory+of+Music.+The+conservatory+celebrated+recently+celebrated+10+years+of+providing+students+with+an+environment+to+hone+their+instrumental+craft.
The sun sets behind the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. The conservatory celebrated recently celebrated 10 years of providing students with an environment to hone their instrumental craft.

The sun sets behind the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. The conservatory celebrated recently celebrated 10 years of providing students with an environment to hone their instrumental craft.

Courtesy of CSULB Music Department

Courtesy of CSULB Music Department

The sun sets behind the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. The conservatory celebrated recently celebrated 10 years of providing students with an environment to hone their instrumental craft.

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Most students who attend the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music practice at least six hours a day, attend all of their classes and juggle jobs and a social life. One thing most of these students don’t have to worry about however, is the cost of a private-school attendance — or even full Cal State attendance.

This issue is lifted off the shoulders of many students thanks to the Bob Cole scholarships given each year to over half of enrolled artists. The scholarships began in March of 2008 when Cole’s wife, Regena Cole, gifted the Cal State Long Beach School of Music an endowment with the goal of impacting students lives through music. This remains the largest single gift in the school’s history.

Since then, the name of the school has been changed and the endowment has gained interest each year. It pays either full or partial cost of attendance for half of the roughly 500 enrolled students.

While also allowing many students to afford school, the scholarship has shifted the culture among attendees, according to conservatory director Johannes Stosch.

“Our students here are more serious about their education since the school has invested an interest in them,” Stosch said. “Unlike many private schools, there’s little sense of entitlement here.”

Stosch also claims during his 11 years working at the conservatory, he has noticed a higher sense of acknowledgement for talent within the school’s soundproof walls. Among these accomplishments have been two championships for the Bob Cole Chamber Choir, the Concert Jazz Orchestra being invited to play nationally and the vocal jazz ensemble Pacific Standard Time being recognized by DownBeat Magazine for the past eight years in a row.

While these triumphs don’t come from the scholarships, they certainly help to make them possible. Students enrolled in the program must attend private one-hour lessons, take double the classes most other majors require and are expected to practice outside of class. Additionally, those who receive a Bob Cole scholarship must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

These requirements, while not specific to the conservatory, are certainly made easier with the scholarship. Natalie Do, a third year cello and music education major, receives a $2,000 talent-based scholarship from the program annually. She said it is part of the reason why she chose the school.

“I think I probably would have still come here, but the scholarship definitely made it worth it,” Do said. “With my case, it was whatever school was most affordable and that helped. Sometimes when you’re receiving the scholarship and you’re not doing too well, you feel like you have to keep up with everyone. Everyone feels the need to keep up with everyone else.”

This sense of competitiveness among students attending the school starts before they even take a seat in the practice room. In the years following the Bob Cole scholarships, the school has received an increase in applicants. It added a third year to its audition process, but is unable to do much else in terms of accepting more students.

“The school is landlocked so we can’t take anymore students than we have,” Stosch said. “So instead we take better students each year. Every student here takes music very seriously.”

The cultural shift and greater recognition only scratch the surface of how the scholarships have impacted the school. Inside the 24-hour practice rooms and booming classrooms, there are students who get to live their dreams of playing, singing and performing as a result.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Bob Cole scholarships, there will be a gala concert at 2 p.m. March 11 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. The Bob Cole Chamber Choir, Pacific Standard Time and multiple orchestras will perform. Tickets are free with a student ID and $10 for the public. They can be purchased by calling (562) 985-7000 or by visiting http://www.csulb.edu/coleconservatory.

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