Tag Archives: students

Another school year

Another school year is beginning.

Contracts commenced yesterday for the 2020-21 academic year.

I’ll save for some other time the comments about how strange this year feels already.

When I was in high school, I thought that teaching was the path I would take.  Music came easily to me, so music education seemed the right road.  Working at Windermere Baptist Assembly the summer before my senior year of high school, though, I felt a strong call to do church music.  (This was one of four or five times in my life when I felt an overwhelming, deep, intrinsic presence of something greater than me.)

So church music was the path, and off I went to Southwest Baptist University.  And then, part-way through my first year of college, I realized that God’s call on my life was broader perhaps than solely church music.  I recall clearly: I was in a course entitled Introduction to Religious Education (the topic in which my father took his graduate degree) and was lit up by Maslow’s hierarchy and learning theories.  So I changed my major to religious studies.

I expected to live my life as a musician and pastoral type in Southern Baptist settings.  But life intervened.  The circuitous path that followed was something I now liken to wilderness years. And in December 1987 I was asked to teach voice lessons to a teenager whose voice had recently dropped.

In quick succession: quit my day job, hang out a shingle as voice and piano teacher, start raising rates to whittle away the chaff, take a part-time gig at the local community college, grab a church gig, gain a Master of Arts in Music, start a doctorate.  That was all in a span of nine years.

Teaching found me.  Music found me again, claiming me from my wilderness.

And here I am today, commencing my 22nd year of full-time university education, and my 33rd year of being in love with teaching.

Memories from the years:

Studio recital

Five students are auditioning this coming weekend for All-District Choir, and several are All-State-worthy, so we had a little studio recital this past weekend.

Two students performed for the first time ever on studio recital, and several made their debut in my studio.

Here are a few photos cribbed from Facebook and text messages:

556

Lincoln, Nebraska.

International Thespian Festival.

556 auditions in 14 flights of students over four days.

That’s what I have been doing this last week.


Several years ago, my boss Peter Sargent asked me to join the theatre faculty in Lincoln so that we could better assess the musical-theatre prospective students.  I think that I’ve made this trip now six out of the last nine years.  And it’s always a treat.

My colleague Bruce Longworth and I sit at the table for the long flights of auditions, wherein students have 90 seconds to present one or two songs or monologues.  After a few flights of students, we issue a call-back list of those we’d like to see again.

These students then work with us individually in a hotel conference room, mostly on Friday and Saturday.

The follow-up for me is to send these students a personal note, and include links to various blog entries that may be helpful, including my listing of all the songs performed at auditions this week, audition tips, and a blog entry about contemporary musical theatre composers.

with Ben Love.

Five years ago this week, I met my beloved student Ben Love here at Thespians.  I hope that five years from now I’ll be able to say the same thing about one of these students we met this week!


P.S. — this is what Ben looked like when I met him:

And this is what I looked like when I met Ben:

I was thinner five years ago.

My kids

Many of my Webster University voice students are engaged this summer in theatre work.

Jacob Flekier (BFA Musical Theatre ’19) is in 101 Dalmations at Stages in June, and then returns to Saint Louis to play Eugene Morris Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs at New Jewish Theatre in October. https://jacobflekier.com/

with Jacob Flekier after his last show at Webster.

Cecily Dowd (Musical Theatre rising junior) is at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, performing in My Fair Lady.

Noah Cornwell (Musical Theatre rising senior) heads to Hope, Michigan for a summer full of roles at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre.

Phil Solheim (rising sophomore in Musical Theatre) is at Crane River Theatre in Kearney, Nebraska in Newsies.

Benjamin B. Love (BFA Musical Theatre ’19) appears at The Muny in 1776, playing the role of Leather Apron.  He heads to Minneapolis after that to rehearse for the China leg of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol Live tour, which takes him to multiple locations in China, October – January 2020. benjaminblove.com

with Ben Love after his final show at Webster.

Sarah Dao (Musical Theatre rising sophomore) is in Kansas City for part of the summer, in Pippin with Music Theatre Kansas City.

Magnus Kroken (Musical Theatre rising sophomore) goes to Shawnee Theatre in Indiana for a show.


My Music Directing major are staying busy too!
https://musicchair.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/my-mdmt-majors/

 

2018 in photos

Click on any photo for the full version! Happy end of year!!

Josh

Josh Stierley has a birthday today.  I caught up with him last year in Chicago, and also have a photo I found of the two of us while he was in Ball State University Singers. We are both aging well.

Happy birthday, Josh!

Beloved former student Josh Stierley, now working on a doctorate at UIC.

 

Thanksgiving dinner

image

Seven of my students answered the summons to Thanksgiving dinner at Chez Samson.

The menu was smoked turkey, corn on the cob, smashed potatoes, cheese grits, green bean casserole with pimentos, apple/sage dressing, cream gravy, sour cream yeast rolls, lime pickles.  Desserts were honey pecan pie, paper sack apple pie, and pumpkin cream pie.

K and I enjoyed being the two old guys with a delightful group of students.  We finished with some funny YouTube, and then a great deal of Christmas song around the piano.

This was a tremendously fulfilling day!