The story behind SMEE

Meghan McCallum

A new year has begun at Lawrence and many have noticed some changes around campus. One of these is the Spontaneous Musical Enlightenment and Education House at 203 N. Union St. While the house itself (known to some as “the yellow house”) is not new to campus, SMEE most certainly is.
It all started one fateful night last year when then-freshmen Elise Butler-Pinkham and Ellen Frisbie were in the Conservatory with some fellow students. They all ended up playing improvisational music in the chapel and had a great time. Sparks were flying. “I thought about how great it would be to make that happen all the time,” said Butler-Pinkham. That’s when the idea of SMEE was born.
Butler-Pinkham, a cello performance and music education major, and Frisbie, majoring in oboe performance, wanted to spread their love of music to the Appleton community. They decided that SMEE would visit area schools and work with kids to help them better understand and appreciate music, even if they didn’t already play any instruments.
To get things in gear, Butler-Pinkham and Frisbie talked to all the Lawrence students they thought would be interested in SMEE, called schools in the Fox Valley area, and put up posters around campus advertising the new group. They also made plans to apply for a theme house for the 2005-2006 school year.
“It was a lot of work,” says Butler-Pinkham of the promoting and the application for their theme house. But in the end, it all paid off.
The SMEE House is now inhabited by 15 students and many instruments. The house members’ instruments of choice include bassoon, organ, viola, cello, violin, guitar, oboe, clarinet and voice. After living in Plantz Hall last year, Butler-Pinkham says that she enjoys living somewhere cozier, where everyone can hang out together and play music. The house is always open to visitors – musical or not.
This year, SMEE will be visible in the community both at area schools and at musical events on the Lawrence campus. Their house will serve as a venue for several musical performances throughout the year, the first one tentatively scheduled for the end of September.
Anyone who is interested in SMEE should stop by the house for a visit or come to their next scheduled event. They hope the group continues to grow in the future.