Big Sounds, Small Spaces

Tiny Dorm Concerts is the brainchild of IU students, from left, Eric Ashby, Natalia Almanza, Matt Lyko, and Linnea Holt.

Taking a cue from NPR’s popular Tiny Desk series of concerts, a group of IU students have launched Tiny Dorm Concerts, a YouTube series straight out of Briscoe Residence Hall. Musical guests include student and faculty groups, Bloomington bands, and the occasional out-of-town act that’s passing through.

“We are creating a platform to showcase musicians and artists around Bloomington,” says Linnea Holt, one of the four leaders of the project. “We want them to be visible, and we want their art to be appreciated.”

Holt, along with Natalia Almanza, launched the series in August 2018. Both women—along with co-leaders Eric Ashby and Matt Lyko—are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in arts management, so they saw Tiny Dorm Concerts as a way to jump-start their careers.

Description of the video:

[Black and white drawing of a loft bed with a string of lights along the bottom of the bed over a desk. A guitar next to the desk. On screen text: tiny dorm concerts featuring Grace Minnick.]

[Music]

[In the cramped corner of a dorm room decorated with plants and scientific posters, a three piece band. In the center behind a microphone is is Grace Minnick on vocals. Sitting on the bed is Mike Gronsky on guitar. Standing on the other side is Hannah Marks on stand up bass. Song title: Arrows.]

[Music, Singing]

[Applause ]

[Song title: The Autumn Queen’s Crown.]

[Music, Singing]

[Applause]

[Grace Minnick speaks] Thank you so much. My name is Grace Minnick and this is my beautiful band. We have Hannah Marks [assumed spelling] on base and Mike Granski [assumed spelling] on guitar.

[Applause]

[Minnick] So, last summer, we recorded an album together with the lovely Bethany Hagan [assumed spelling] on viola called Mostly Home. It is a bunch of originals that we were done and arranged together in a span of a couple of days that we worked on because of winning the Battle of the Bands in Bloomington. So, we are now taking this to more original stuff with you guys, so thank you for having us.

[Minnick] This next song is called Someday.

[Music]

[Song title: Someday.]

[Singing]

[Applause, Cheering]

[Onscreen text reads: Songs: Arrows, The Autumn Queen’s Crown, Someday. Executive Producers: Natalia Almanza, Eric Ashby, Linnea Holt, Matt Lyko. Audio Engineers: Michael Bolakowski. Videographers: Sam Oates, Max Pattinson. Editors: Sam Oates. Mixing Engineer: Michael Bolakowski. Photographers: CJ Duffey. Aesthetics Design: Natalia Almanza. Georgia Papakirk.]

[Unknown person speaks] Oh, yeah!

[Unknown person speaks] You did it.

[Unknown person speaks] That was awesome.

“The four of us all agreed to make it happen because we want to work in the music industry, so why not start now?” Holt says.

Videographer Isabella Scribner gets valuable real-world experience to hone her craft.

Tiny Dorm Concerts, though, is not your everyday student group production. It’s a slick operation, with Holt and her team delegating tasks to a rotating group of crew members who are responsible for sourcing audio and video equipment from IU’s Media School and Jacobs School of Music, lugging the gear to a dorm room, setting it up, and tearing it down.

It’s a lot of work for a 15-minute video. From planning and marketing to filming, mixing, editing, publishing, and then promoting through social media, Holt estimates each concert takes dozens of hours of work.

At first, Almanza’s dorm room was the location for the concerts, but now that she’s moved off campus, they’ve taken the show on the road, filming in other student residences. Students can apply to host a concert, just like musicians can apply to perform.

“Having them in different spaces around campus and in different dorms has given students a lot more opportunities to engage with us and at least see the process of having a band come in,” Holt says. “It’s really exciting.”

Natalia Almanza’s dorm room lies calm before the storm.

As Tiny Dorm Concert’s profile has grown, so has its ability to win financial support. In the spring of 2019, Holt and her team received a creative activity grant from the Hutton Honors College, and they placed second in the Jacobs School of Music’s Project Jumpstart competition.

The project has also been a boon for student musicians. Grace Minnick, BS’19, who appeared in a spring semester episode, was chosen to take part in the IU Arts and Humanities Council’s First Thursdays series, which features performances by local artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Holt says Minnick credits the exposure she gained from Tiny Dorm Concerts for getting her other gigs.

“My favorite part about Tiny Dorm Concerts has been the connections and networks I’ve created at IU,” Holt says. “It’s really been a privilege to work with these students. These relationships will extend far into our careers past IU.”


Big Sounds, Small Spaces appeared in the Stories section of the Winter 2019 issue of the IU Alumni Magazine, a magazine for members of the IU Alumni Association. To view the current and past issues of the IUAM, visit MyIU.org.

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Written By
Brian Hartz
Brian Hartz, MA’01, is a freelance journalist based in St. Petersburg, Fla. He also writes for the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, The Gabber (Gulfport, Fla.) newspaper, Crain’s Tampa Bay business magazine, The Limestone Post, and the Business Observer (Sarasota, Fla.) newspaper, among others.