Music is an essential part of life. Listening to a song can change one’s mood or lead to a reflective meditation. The number of Music majors on campus is small, but an even smaller percentage choose to focus on the most natural of instruments—the voice.

When students declare a Music major, they declare a focal instrument.

“I declared a Music major [with a focus in voice] because I am planning on becoming a choral director,” junior Abigail Fowler said. “I am also an Education minor, which helps to give me some of my Education classes before I go to grad school.”

Sophomore Emilie O’Connor practices a piece with her voice teacher, Adjunct Professor of Music Mark Kano, in a Grant practice room.

Sophomore Emilie O’Connor practices a piece with her voice teacher, Adjunct Professor of Music Mark Kano, in a Grant practice room.

The vocal concentration involves a number of requirements that go beyond the normal coursework. Students must take voice lessons every term, which culminates in a junior and a senior solo recital. They also must audition for solo opportunities such as the Musicians’ Showcase. They are asked to take a church job in the area as a Section Leader and soloist in the choir and the majors compete in auditions for the National Association of Teachers of Singing every year.

Students are also encouraged to pursue singing opportunities in the summer. Previous Centre students have gone to the Brevard Music Summer Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, and to Salzburg, Austria.

Of course, practice makes perfect. Vocal students, along with other Music majors, spend lots of time in the practice rooms in the basement of Grant Hall.

The final requirement of the Music major includes the senior recital.

“In the fall of their final year, they choose a recital date and a hearing date, which is three weeks prior to the recital. [The voice majors] have to have all of their repertoire ready and perform for 30-to-40 minutes before several faculty who check the readiness of the student to perform in public,” H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Music Barbara Hall said. “The fall and spring terms are busy with learning and memorizing the 45-plus minutes of music. The recital is a formal event that is open to the public.

The student has to prepare the program with full program notes and is required to rehearse with the accompanist and any other musicians who may be playing with the singer on the program. These have really been wonderful and impressive events in the past.”

Centre graduates go on to do great things and pursue a variety of careers and vocal-concentrated Music majors are no exception. Many have gone on to do graduate work at places, such as at the Eastman School of Music, Northern Colorado University, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

“Only one [graduate] at this point has had a full-time career as an opera singer. Another is now a jazz singer in Nashville and teaches jazz singing as well,” Dr. Hall said. “Another is in an administrative position at an arts academy in New York City and doing a lot of performing as well.”

These graduates continue to add impressive performances to their resumes as they continue to do what they love. Yet they are not limited to performances alone. Many have gone on to work in churches and others have introduced their love of music with others by taking teaching positions.

“Centre is not the usual choice for someone who at 18 knows that they want to be a singer, but those who have come to Centre have found it a very supportive and valuable place to study voice,” Dr. Hall said. “They have gotten excellent voice teaching, immersed themselves in languages far beyond the usual diction courses required of voice majors, and done very well in music history and theory in graduate school.”

By declaring a Music major, the course work and recitals undoubetdly allow students to truly embrace a creative passion. Fowler admits that the competition may be difficult but she cherishes being able to fill her days with music.

“My favorite part is getting to spend almost all of my time with people who are equally as passionate about music as I am,” Fowler said. “Although it may get competitive at times, it is enjoyable more often than not. It also gives me the privilege of being musical every day, something that I love.”

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