In the corner of sophomore Gitika Maheshwari’s Francis Scott Key residence hall room sits a keyboard, a drum set, microphones and speakers. The desks are pushed into the kitchen, the beds are in the hallway, and the walls are strung with lights to set the stage for a tiny concert.
Maheshwari launched the Instagram account @TinydormconcertsGW late last semester, a spin-off of NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts that host small shows in an office space. Maheshwari said she created the account to meet more people from the music community and help student artists gain exposure in the low-key setting of a residence hall room.
“Dorms can be small, but that is also somewhat of the purpose,” Maheshwari said. “It is going to be a pretty intimate and relaxed setting for both the audience and the artist.”
She said she first talked the idea over with a friend, junior Theo Magill, and together they launched an Instagram page. Maheshwari said in addition to being a talented guitarist in his own band, Magill is an executive board member of the Student Musicians Coalition and can borrow equipment from the group to host shows.
All of the concerts are held in her FSK space in room 305, and she promotes events and the opportunity to play shows on the Instagram page, Maheshwari said. Interested student musicians can direct message the Instagram account to set up a concert date, she said.
So far, Maheshwari said she has received about 20 messages from different student artists who are interested in performing. In addition to promoting events through Instagram, Maheshwari said she wants to post flyers around campus with information about upcoming concerts.
Freshman Adam Gokcebay was slated to be the sole performer Nov. 23, but Maheshwari said she ran into two members of the band PineWalls, Greg Rice and Joesph Allen, who spontaneously decided to join in at the first Tiny Dorm Concert.
About 20 to 30 people squeezed into Maheshwari’s residence hall room to watch the concert, during which PineWalls played their own songs for about 40 minutes and Gokcebay sang for the first time live, she said. Some of the audience came from the Student Musicians Coalition, and those who couldn’t make the show watched on @TinydormconcertsGW’s live stream.
“For the first show, a lot of my close friends came to support because I was pretty anxious on the turnout,” Maheshwari said. “Theo had people from the music community and the Student Musicians Coalition come and then the artists brought their friends, and what was most exciting was having people come by after just seeing it on Instagram.”
Maheshwari has four more concerts lined up for this semester on Jan. 25, Feb. 23, March 27 and April 17. Each of the four upcoming concerts has two to three people scheduled to play, and Maheshwari said she is looking to add more sets to the spring lineup.
“I was really excited to see where this goes and where it takes itself,” Maheshwari said. “The informal nature and atmosphere is really comfortable for everyone because it comes together quickly.”
In the future, Maheshwari said she wants to plan a Tiny Dorm Concert festival, during which concerts would take place in multiple residence hall rooms next to each other throughout one night. She added that she wants to incorporate art exhibits in the rooms during concerts to highlight artists who don’t sing or play instruments.
Allen, the lead singer of PineWalls, said he ran through a few songs before the Tiny Dorm Concerts show and asked Jacy Case, a student who has performed backing vocals for their live shows, to play with them the night of the event. He said members of the band “love” playing live shows and wanted to play in a relatively small setting like a residence hall room.
“We figured it would be interesting to perform in an intimate, stripped-down setting like that – stripped-down because three of our band members were out of town that week,” Allen said. “There were probably 30 or so people there throughout the night, which really fills out a dorm room.”