Tiny Nest concert series strengthens music community on campus

Tiny Nest concert series strengthens music community on campus

Sam Decker is 20 years old, a media arts senior, and is an aspiring young musician. He performed in Design Works, located in the Union at the University of North Texas. The performance is inspired by the Tiny Desk Concert series that NPR does. Victoria Nguyen

Tiny Nest concert series strengthens music community on campus
October 23
19:50 2017

A burst of applause fills the tight quarters of the Design Works office as media arts senior Sam Decker sets aside his guitar and drumsticks.

Through the loud whoops and hollers of the office employees, the air in the room feels filled to the brim with community and support.

This is no regular concert — it is a Tiny Nest concert.

The UNT-produced Tiny Nest concert series, inspired by the NPR Tiny Desk video series, began around a month ago with the purpose of showcasing musicians around campus in a uniquely miniature way.

Decker is not only one of the series’ most recent musicians, but he is also a videographer and editor of other students’ performances.

For him, the series is more about raw passion for music than talent.

“It’s not always about being the best or playing the best,” Decker said. “It’s about playing an intimate show and connecting with people through music. I think that could be one way people get inspired.”

Associate Director for Marketing Steve Meehin said student workers for Design Works have been tossing around the idea of doing the series for many years even though it just got up-and-running recently. The requests from past and current employees helped push the project off the ground.

Meehin’s role on the team is to help with filming performances — like Decker’s — and doing everything he can to keep the series running.

“I really help facilitate wherever I can,” Meehin said. “There’s so much talent in this school, [and] we’re just trying to showcase that.”

Integrative studies senior Noah LeGrand was the series’ first performer and a frequent videographer for Tiny Nest. He also came up with the name for the series.

The series is devoted to finding and displaying any creative students who want to branch out and do something different than usual with their musical talents.

“That’s what’s cool about this job — it gives us opportunities to create,” LeGrand said. “I hope our videos will convince [students] to ask us to be on it.”

LeGrand said the original idea of the videos was to perform in odd spots around the Union, like elevators, staircases and rooms around the building.

Their first test run was conducted in the Union in front of several unsuspecting students studying, and it gave LeGrand confidence that students would respond positively to the videos.

In the end, the team collectively decided to keep the series in the Design Works office to maintain the feeling of a small concert venue, similar to NPR’s.

“I think we should just keep it here [and] simple,” Decker said. “Like, as small as we can get it. We’re going to go for that. Just as simple as we can do it.”

Along with filming, Decker also coordinates finding the performers, normally through social media and personal connections in the community.

“A lot of my friends are in bands, so basically I just post on Facebook and get some responses,” Decker said. “I would consider myself a person who knows a lot of musicians, so it’s easier for me to find them. I kind of coordinate that.”

The main qualification for performers is they must be currently enrolled at UNT as a student, a conscious decision made by the team to ensure the series stays true to students.

The series has everything from folk groups to rock bands to soloists lined up for future performances, though Decker noted it is harder for larger bands to play due to the purposefully quaint area and lack of room for large equipment space.

“It’s always a challenge because I think some performers have to prepare a different way to play this show than for a normal show, which is why I think it’s a little harder for bands to do it,” Decker said. “It’s a lot easier for solo musicians to do it because they know how they can tone down their sound. When it comes to more than two or three musicians, you have to figure out how to record.”

Decker hopes Tiny Desk will inspire students to see the abundant number of creative students around UNT and appreciate their intimate, authentic performances to a small crowd.

“I think students can look forward to seeing an honest performance from a fellow student, and I think that’s really cool,” Decker said. “Just knowing the kind of talented people around [here] and getting to see them shine is very cool.”

Featured Image: Sam Decker is a 20-year-old media arts senior and an aspiring young musician. He performed in Design Works, located in the Union at the UNT. The performance is inspired by the Tiny Desk Concert series that NPR does. Victoria Nguyen 

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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