Saxophone music streamed from suite 1020 to fill the 10th floor of the Colonial residence hall on Oct. 18.
Sophomores Zach Cargie, Justin Wood, Chris Tirado, and friend Sam Schneider hosted the first session of Tiny Dorm, small personal concerts by Emerson musical talents in college dorms.
“Really, the whole thing is just to celebrate Emerson’s musical talent,” Cargie said. “There are a lot of people who write their own music and songs, and you never really know about it because there’s not that much infrastructure to really exemplify that.”
Cargie said the idea came from a friend running Tiny Dorm at Grinnell College, in Iowa. The concept was inspired by Tiny Desk, a National Public Radio series of intimate live recorded video performances.
Cargie said he shared the concept with Wood, Tirado, and Schneider who shared his vision of bringing it to Emerson.
“I think we were all on board pretty much instantaneously. It felt like a really good idea that could definitely turn into something really special,” Wood said. “Something that could outlast us at Emerson possibly.”
Cargie said Emerson lacks a space focused solely on music, so he created one. He said the open mic nights in Center Stage often attract not only students interested in listening to music, but also those looking for extra seating to eat, and therefore aren’t as effective as they can be.
To create the atmosphere for the venue, Cargie said he and the three sophomores decorated their suite with string lights and created a mural from blue painter’s tape reading “Tiny Dorm Emerson” on their wall.
The first event started at 8 p.m. and attracted 15 students. The show lasted 45 minutes and three musicians performed.
One performer, sophomore Cameron Barth, played the saxophone for the first time in two years. He said he wouldn’t have thought of performing at Emerson before he heard of Tiny Dorm if it wasn’t for his friend Cargie, but is now interested in doing it again.
“I would recommend it to anyone who just wants to perform in front of an audience,” Barth said. “I played classical saxophone, and that’s not something that before going into it I would assume would have worked in that kind of setting, but it worked.”
Cargie said he asked permission from a resident assistant, who approved his event so long as it didn’t become a fire hazard and didn’t involve any illegal substances.
Shelby Grebbin, resident assistant on the 10th floor of Colonial, said the boys did not ask for her permission, but she didn’t have a problem with it. She said she wished students would start more art projects independently.
“I don’t think they have to ask me whether or not they can start one of these projects,” she said.
Grebbin, a former Managing Editor for the Berkeley Beacon, said she supports and encourages Tiny Dorm. She said she has only heard positive feedback, and no one on the floor complained about it.
Quiet hours in the dorms on weekdays start at 11 p.m., but courtesy hours are implemented 24/7.
The group reached out to junior Mia Manning, who works for WECB and hopes to partner with them to become a part of WECB Live and record the performances.
In the future, Cargie said they also hope to get Tiny Dorm SGA-approved to help them produce shows more efficiently.
Cargie said he plans to study abroad next semester at Kasteel Well and hopes Tiny Dorm will continue without him. Schneider said he will continue to host shows throughout the semester.
“We’re going to do our best to keep the dream alive, to keep it going. I think to that end, our goal is just to build as much of a community and as much momentum around it as we possibly can for what time we have left of the semester,” Schneider said, “So by the time we come back next semester, we reboot our interest and we don’t have to start from all over again.”
Cargie said Tiny Dorm can become a more accessible alternative to house shows for on-campus students.
“People doing house shows can do the same thing with Tiny Dorm, and it’s a lot easier for on-campus Emerson students who might not necessarily know anyone hosting a house show, or having gotten the details,” Cargie said. “It’s always something on campus and it’s fairly easy to produce each week. So there’s always something going on that people can stumble their way onto or just float on by.”
The next show is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 10 in suite 1020, and Cargie said they will release more information in the days leading up to the show.
Cargie said he hopes it can become a weekly event. He said the group hopes Tiny Dorm will expand so others on campus can offer their dorm as a venue by filling out forms available online soon.
“I think the biggest goal is that we’re not the only suite doing it, that it becomes something bigger than us. Because we already got multiple people interested in hosting in their suite, so that’s kind of the ultimate goal is having it all over the place, each week, and also something that gets established and outlasts us,” Wood said.
“At Emerson, the first question out of everyone’s mouth whenever you meet someone is, ‘What major are you?’ So if you tell someone you’re VMA or journalism, that’s what you’re going to be associated with,” Schneider said. “You never really talk about music. It’s the idea of finding, not necessarily a hidden talent, but maybe something that people don’t necessarily know about you.”
A previous version of this article falsely stated that Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Jason Meier did not comment.