If you found yourself on Brewster’s campus a couple of weekends ago, you might wonder why so many students were headed to Anderson Hall after dinner. It was 7 p.m. on a Saturday, and the students had nowhere they had to be. Despite this freedom, almost a third of the Brewster student body chose to spend their time watching their peers–and some even performing themselves–at Brewster’s first Coffee House of the year.
About once or twice a trimester, the Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department, Guinevere Hilton, and head of the Musical Department, Andy Campbell, invite students to sign up to perform in what have become known as Coffee Houses. There’s no criteria for what they can do: Performances range from singing to playing instruments to dancing to reciting monologues, to anything else in between.
The one commonality between all the performances, however, is the universal support shown from the audience.
“Coffee Houses are so community-based. They’re not mandatory, so everyone who goes wants to be there,” says Erin Gallagher ’23, a dancer who loves attending. “It really is just heartwarming to see.”
“It’s probably one of the biggest displays of community support at Brewster,” declared Megan Ward ’24. Megan should know; she’s performed at several Coffee Houses since coming to Brewster her junior year. “I really love hearing other people perform. There’s a connection with people when they perform music. It’s what makes me want to do it.”
Despite Megan’s passion for music and the connection it gives people–she even wrote her college essay about this topic–she still feels nervous getting on stage. “It scares you, singing in front of so many people. But I love how songs can set the mood and create a bubble for everyone in the room.”
It’s easy to get sucked into that bubble. Even when watching the video recordings from the Coffee House, you hear the energy overflowing from the audience. Every performer is met with an enthusiastic welcome and an exuberant round of applause when finished.
This enthusiasm, in part, is why so many Brewster students sign up to perform, even when they may have never expected they would be brave enough to do something like this before. In taking a crucial step outside of their comfort zone, they don’t just build their confidence on the stage. They develop greater self-efficacy for facing new challenges in their future.
“The boisterous, unconditional support from the community is what enables students to feel confident and excited to perform, whether they are seasoned performers or total newbies,” says Ms. Hilton.
Not only did the first Coffee House inspire attendees, it also inspired other students to tap into their own artistic talents behind the scenes in the form of photography and videography. A small team of students brought their cameras and equipment to capture photos and videos of the event. You can see all of their media on this Brewster Coffee House Flickr album.
You can also watch highlights from the event below. It only takes a few seconds of listening to the opening cheers, or a quick listen to the applause compilation at the end, to feel what Brewster students feel at every Coffee House: a surge of support and appreciation for each other.
Leave a Comment Below