cannot, in good conscience, recommend San Francisco State for its
music department. The department is characterized by disorganization, a huge
lack of communication, and rudeness.
The office staff claims
how important it is to see one's advisor, but in
my experience that was a waste of time since nobody
seems to know what they are doing. My advisor simply
read to me from the bulletin off the Internet and
told me to go see someone else. At one point,
Lisa Wielunski, the department secretary told me that the information
in the bulletin abour recitals did not count. When I
questioned further, Lisa became quite defensive and said she had
only been working in her current position for a month
and did not know. I later contacted a faculty member
who told me that the bulletin was correct. How Lisa
can think she is in a position to give directives
is beyond me.
Dr. George DeGraffenreid, the department head,
is known for being unresponsive to the concerns of both
students and faculty. One of my professors actually announced this
in a classroom setting. I once emailed Dr. DeGraffenreid for
help on a crucial issue. His response was flippant, unnecessarily
rude, and he pretty much fluffed me off. He has
sought to eliminate the opportunity for students to perform junior
recitals, robbing them of performance experience. This has set off
complaints from professors and students alike. A music school taking
away opportunities for students to gain experience...not good.
orchestra and chamber music program had numerous issues as well.
In orchestra, certain students often talked and laughed during rehearsals,
showed up unprepared, and the conductor never called them on
it. He, in fact, made excuses for their rude behavior.
In other ensembles in which I have played, conductors confronted
such people on the spot. The coaches in the chamber
program, the Alexander String Quartet, often let similar flakey, low-caliber
players into the chamber music program while keeping out numerous
dedicated, high-level students who would've have loved to learn and
perform. It is as if they are encouraging habits that
will weed students out once they are in the professional
I wound up going to other schools in the
Bay Area to get opportunites for ensemble experience and had
a much richer experience that I would if I stuck
to what SF State had to offer. My main teacher,
the reason I looked into the school in the first
place, turned out to be horrible. Consequently, I wound up
studying privately with someone outside of SF State as well.
Many students have expressed a lack of satisfaction with the
I do not expect that the department will change
in any way. When criticism has been offered, professors and
staff typically respond with defensiveness, nastiness, and make up excuses.
They do not have much concern with improving things for
everyone and rarely accept responsibility.
Socially, it is a mixed
bag. I've known many incredible individuals there. While there are
many great people in the department with whom to be
friends, quite a few are whiney, self-centered, and overly talkative.
This applies especially to the voice majors, who act as
though the entire world owes them a silver platter.
State has a beautiful campus on the outside, set in
one of the most fascinating cities in the world. It
is not a tolerant place for certain groups; one of
its nicknames is Hate Jew U due to all of
the anti-Semitism. In 2002, Pro-Israel students were attacked in a
near riot by pro-Palestinian students yelling anti-Semitic slurs while campus
security did nothing.
I'm sad to say that this school,
although with its positive aspects, turned out to be a
very disappointing experience.