Administration and students agree that the 131 students who make up Eastman’s freshman class this year are a particularly focused and serious group.

M. Phyllis Wade, Dean of Students and acting Director of Admissions, was especially impressed by the students’ thoughtfulness from her contact with them during freshman orientation week. She observed that the Class of 2006 is well-rounded, holding informed opinions not only about music but about world events.

James Undercofler, Eastman’s director and dean, credits the intensity of the Class of 2006, in part, to the after-effects of last year’s terrorist attacks.

The number of undergraduate applications the school received this year, 900, was less than in previous years.

Undercofler surmises that students pared down the number of schools to which they applied because the economic effects of September 11 forced them to consider their decision to go into music more seriously. As a result, students tended to apply to only four or five schools instead of seven or eight.

Those students who applied to Eastman, Undercofler concludes, were likely to be focused and serious about their area of specialty ? the applications received this year were particularly strong.

The freshman class is “exceptionally gifted,” he said.

Both deans cite an additional feature of the Class of 2006 which adds to its diversity and interest ? the growth of the number of students enrolled in Eastman’s two newest undergraduate majors, jazz and classical guitar.

Undercofler, who met several freshman jazz and classical guitar players during orientation week, reports that he is pleased that the new performance majors at Eastman are attracting such high-quality students.

Members of the freshman class agree with administrators’ observations of their focus and intensity about their chosen areas of study. When they were applying to schools, freshmen said that they only considered the handful of schools that closely met their interests, citing the cost of application and travel to auditions as a deterrent in times of a troubled economy.

Many freshmen were, according to one student, “determined to come to Eastman” and did not apply haphazardly to a large number of schools.

Jonathan Michie, a freshman vocalist whose first choice was Eastman, says of himself and his classmates “everyone knows why they’re here. Being driven is a necessity.”

However, despite their focus and intensity, the members of the Class of 2006 are generally “down-to-earth and realistic.”

“Ego and status don’t get in the way of a quality education,” he said.

Freshman string player Matthew Zerweck agrees with this appraisal of the supportive atmosphere at Eastman. “There is no talking down about others’ playing,” he said.

Offers were made to 245 students out of the roughly 900 who applied. Of the 245, 131 students chose to enroll.

Twelve percent of the class is international, with the majority of students coming from Singapore, Canada and North and South Korea. Twenty percent of the American students are from New York. The freshman class is 53 percent female and 47 percent male.

Wagman can be reached at

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