Elizabeth (Libby) Beller ‘19 is a double major in clarinet performance and mathematics at Shenandoah University, where she says she “gets the best of both worlds” — the opportunity to become a thriving, world-class musician as well as satisfy her love of mathematics through the university’s well-respected Shenandoah Conservatory and College of Arts & Sciences. Despite double majoring in two distinct disciplines, Libby still finds time for extracurricular activities like the Buzzin’ Dozen Pep Band, Student Advancement Relations Society (STARS), and the music fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi.
Why did you pick Shenandoah?
“It actually took awhile for me to make a college decision, because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. But by the time I needed to make a decision, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, which was double major in clarinet performance and mathematics. I realized if I came here, I would get the best of both worlds. The conservatory gives me an excellent music education, and the math department is really, really great as well. All the math professors are experts in their fields, and they are so knowledgeable.”
What do you plan on doing with your degrees?
“Last year, I took a music theory course called Post Tonal. I realized a lot of math elements were incorporated in that style. So I was like, “Woah! This is super cool!” After that course I thought ‘this is what I need to do with my life!’ Once I graduate, I intend on applying to a doctoral program to study music theory and then go on to teach somewhere, so other kids can realize how cool music theory is!”
How long have you been playing clarinet?
“I started playing clarinet in 4th grade, and now I’m a junior at the university. So, I think that’s about 10 years, which is crazy, because over half of my life has been spent playing that instrument.”
Students in the conservatory are notoriously busy. How do you manage all of your extracurricular activities?
“It’s a lot of hard work. I don’t think I’ve had a semester under 18.5 credits. Our teachers are very supportive, and they understand we have a lot going on. So on a particularly busy week, you can email a professor and explain your situation. They will give you an extension on whatever work you have due, so you are able to complete it to the best of your ability. But a lot of it is learning and applying time management skills.”
Speaking of extracurricular activities, let’s talk about a few organizations you’re a part of, starting with the Shenandoah chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, for which you are the president. What does your fraternity do?
“Kappa Kappa Psi is a national band service fraternity. We promote musicianship in our members, and we provide service to the band programs on the collegiate campus and in the surrounding community. We are not a social fraternity. We are solely a service fraternity. We do a lot of work with the local community.”
You are also involved in the Buzzin’ Dozen, the school’s pep band. What do you do with them?
“I’m the assistant director, and I will be the director next year. Originally, there were 12 members, hence the name. Now we are much larger, and we are the Buzzin’ six dozen, since there are about 72 of us! This is the ninth year of the pep band’s existence. It’s such a fun experience, and that’s what we want it to be. We have a lot of non-conservatory majors. We encourage that because a lot of musicians want to pursue something other than music, and this is one way they can still have a musical outlet.”
You are also a member of STARS. What is that program and what does it do?
“The Student Advancement Relations Society (STARS) helps to raise funds for the university to provide scholarships and to continue services offered to students for free. We talk to alumni and donors to encourage them to keep giving. We are very active in the alumni community.”
What do you like best about your experience at Shenandoah University?
“My favorite thing about Shenandoah University is the close-knit community. I have a close relationship with every single professor who I’ve had here. I don’t think I would have gotten that at any other school. Professors here check in on you. They are always eager to help. They want to make sure you are doing well physically, mentally and emotionally. They push you to do your best, but at the same time, they understand that in order to do your best, you also need to take care of yourself. This sense of community transfers over to the students. Everyone wants you to do well. Everyone here is friendly, supportive and encouraging.”
Photos by Ethan Gross, Music Therapy major ’19