Discover Your 'Authentic Voice': 2021 SVA Commencement Highlights and Marilyn Minter's Keynote Speech - SVA - SVA Features

Discover Your 'Authentic Voice': 2021 SVA Commencement Highlights and Marilyn Minter's Keynote Speech - SVA - SVA Features Discover Your 'Authentic Voice': 2021 SVA Commencement Highlights and Marilyn Minter's Keynote Speech - SVA - SVA Features Posted: 23 May 2021 12:00 AM PDT One of the last projects the great  Milton Glaser —the legendary graphic designer, longtime School of Visual Arts faculty member and acting chairman of the SVA Board—was working on before his death last year was "Together," an effort to encourage fellow feeling despite the isolation brought on by COVID-19. As always, Glaser was reminding us of our shared humanity, which transcends borders, circumstances and physical space. And while we weren't together in person to celebrate the School of Visual Arts' 46th annual commencement exercises, in spirit, we were. The 2021 Commencement—which took place onl

The Best Online Singing Courses For Every Skill Level - SurfKY News

The Best Online Singing Courses For Every Skill Level - SurfKY News

The Best Online Singing Courses For Every Skill Level - SurfKY News

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 07:52 PM PST

The Best Online Singing Courses for Every Skill Level

Many people believe that you are either born with the ability to sing, or you aren't. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, with the right instruction and a little hard work, anyone can learn the skills needed to improve their singing. 

Whether you want to impress your friends at karaoke, audition for a musical or record the next pop masterpiece, online singing courses can help you reach your goal. But with so many singing courses available today, how do you know which is right for you? Here are a few of the best online singing courses available to help both beginners and more advanced students learn to sing better.

Best Courses for Beginners 

If you're an absolute beginner when it comes to singing, learning the craft can be a little intimidating, but the right instruction can make it a breeze. Start by learning the basics and nailing the proper techniques. Here are two of the best online singing courses for beginners.

The ABC of Singing- The Fundamentals of Singing for Complete Beginners on Skillshare

If you've wanted to pursue singing, but just haven't had the confidence to do so in the past, this course is a great place to start. During these lessons, you'll learn how to notice certain aspects of your body, like tension, breathing and muscles, and see how to bring these parts together to form a strong singing voice. After all, singing is absolutely a physical task. Just like lifting weights or running, having the right form is important and the more you practice, the better you'll get. This is one reason why anyone can get better at singing. While raw talent definitely does have an impact, being in the right physical condition is equally, if not more, important. 

This course is taught by professional singing instructor Jayne Carmichael Norrie, who can teach you exactly how to align your body, control your breathing and understand how your muscles affect your singing. Understanding the most basic aspects of the craft can help you build a solid foundation as you move on towards more advanced skills.

30 Day Singer

This course guarantees that you'll get better at singing within 30 days, even if you truly believe you have no talent. This course is designed for singers with little to no experience and can help you build on basic techniques. With 30 Day Singer, you'll learn to build your range so you can hit more notes cleanly and clearly. You'll discover how to add power to your singing, strengthen your voice, control your breathing, and project confidence in everything you sing.

30 Day Singer will help you get ready to perform in front of others by teaching you how to mimic the styles of some of your favorite artists, while teaching you to develop your personal style. 

30 Day Singer isn't just for beginners, either. They offer more advanced techniques, so you can learn more about controlling your pitch, and improving your ability to harmonize, belt and extend your range. This program has a 14-day trial, so you can test to see if it works for you. 

Best Courses for Intermediate Students

So you've dabbled in singing and maybe have had a few lessons, but you also know you could get better with a little more dedication. If you know the basics and are now ready to learn a few more advanced techniques, these two courses can give you the instruction you need. 

The Voice Essentials 2 Course

This is the follow up to a beginner course with 12 different in-depth modules, downloadable lesson sheets and the ability to interact with other students for feedback and discussions. In this course, you'll focus on developing your range with scales and arpeggios to practice. You'll learn major and minor scales, as well as how to change volume while singing, articulate words and syllables and more about managing breath so you're always in complete control. Intermediate singing courses are all about increasing your range, improving your tone and learning how to sing correctly so you don't hurt yourself or damage your voice.

The Voice Essentials 2 Course will challenge the foundational techniques you're already comfortable with and will push your limits as a singer, so you can continue to grow your skills and develop your own style. If you're happy with what you learn in this course, there's a follow-up third course for more advanced singers. 

Elite Singing Techniques – Phase I on Udemy

This course on Udemy has taught close to 10,000 students and has more than 2,000 positive reviews, which means you know you're getting a quality product. The goal of this course is to help you learn how to stop putting strain on your voice and focus on the upper end of your range. Students are encouraged to practice 20 minutes daily and are provided with complete warm-up activities to prime your voice for singing. With a promise of immediate results, this course is great for singers who are struggling to extend their range and get rid of hoarseness, soreness or strain. 

Elite Singing Techniques – Phase I is taught by Eric Arceneaux, a professional vocal coach and recording artist, and the founder of the Arceneaux Approach. The course is broken up into nine different modules, along with vocal warm-ups, FAQs and bonus content. If you're pleased with the results of this course, you can move onto the second phase for more advanced singing instruction. 

Best Courses For Advanced Students

Even if you've been singing for years, there is always oopportunity to improve your technique and learn new skills. These two courses are your chance to learn tips and tricks from the masters, so you can take your singing game to the next level. 

Roger Love Singing Academy

Roger Love's techniques have taught thousands of students how to improve their singing, master stage presence, and nail styles from pop to country to rock and more. Roger Love is a top vocal coach, and has 30 years of expertise teaching Grammy award-winning artists in many different genres. With more than 100 instructional videos split into three different levels of expertise, you'll get detailed lessons that teach you everything you need to prepare a performance, rock your audition and get ready for the studio.

Roger Love's Singing Academy offers four free lessons so you can try them out and see if they're a fit for you. Students agree that this course has taught them to sing with passion and emotion, and free themselves from limitations. If you decide to purchase the most advanced class, Roger will personally review your voice sample.

Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing on Masterclass

If singing stardom is your dream, Christina Aguilera will teach you how to get a handle on the techniques that have made her a Grammy award-winning musician. The best part about Masterclass is that when you pay for a subscription, you get access to a whole range of classes on many different subjects. With 23 lessons created by Cristina herself, this class is a unique experience that is bound to push your singing expertise to the limit. 

Advanced singing lessons will bring together everything you've learned about control, range, tone and power, and turn it into pure confidence. This means that you'll be able to tackle nearly any piece of music with ease, no matter what style it's written in. An expert singer will know exactly how to mimic different singers and create beautiful music filled with emotion.

How to Decide Which Course is Best for You

When choosing an online singing course, start by looking at the particular skills you'd like to develop and what level you feel you're currently at with your singing. If you start with a class that's too advanced, you may not know the proper foundational techniques, which can lead to forming bad habits that will keep you from singing your best. Even if you're confident in your singing abilities, consider a beginner's class if you've never taken professional singing lessons before. This will ensure you are using your voice correctly from the start.

If connecting with a teacher or fellow students is important to you, some classes allow you to do that, so you can get feedback on what you're learning. Of course, cost is another deciding factor when it comes to choosing which course is right for you. Don't hesitate to take advantage of any free trial courses or sample lessons that are available to you. That way, you can test out a course before making a final decision. After all, a singing course is a personal investment into your own skills and growth as a musician. 

There are so many fantastic resources online for musicians. If you're ready to take full advantage of your potential as a singer, instrumentalist, DJ or performer, the tools are at your fingertips. With a little hard work and dedication, you can make your musical dreams come true. 

Community | Education in brief - Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 08:13 AM PST

Wilkes University welcomes Luc Fox of Valencia to its first-year class

Luc Fox, of Valencia, has entered Wilkes University as a member of its first-year class. A graduate of Learning Post High School, Fox will be a business administration major. Fox is the recipient of a Dean Scholarship awarded by Wilkes. 

More than 500 students are entering the University as part of its first-year class. The fall 2020 semester began Aug. 24 following the University's Welcome Weekend which provides first-year students with an introduction to life at Wilkes.

Wilkes University is a private, independent, non-sectarian institution of higher education in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. The Brookings Institution ranked Wilkes 14th in the nation for middle-class mobility. In addition to 45 majors, Wilkes offers 24 master's degree programs and five doctoral/terminal degree programs.

2 SCV students named to University of Wyoming spring dean's and freshman honor rolls

The University of Wyoming lists 45 students from California on the 2020 spring semester academic dean's and dean's freshman honor rolls, including two Santa Clarita Valley students: Kiara Jane Necessary, of Santa Clarita, and Blake A. Strannigan, of Valencia.

The honor rolls consist of regularly enrolled undergraduates above freshman standing who earned a 3.4 or better grade-point average, and freshmen who have earned a 3.25 or better grade-point average. To be eligible, students must have been enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours taken for letter grades.

The University of Wyoming provides quality undergraduate and graduate programs to 12,249 students from all 50 states and 88 countries. Established in 1886, UW offers 200 areas of study.

Antonious Anis among UW-Madison spring graduates

Nearly 8,500 students received degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison during a unique online commencement ceremony on May 9, including Antonious Anis, of Santa Clarita, who graduated from the School of Medicine and Public Health.

The ceremony, forced online because of the coronavirus pandemic, was for doctoral, bachelor's, master's and law graduates.

Best-selling author James Patterson, the commencement speaker, counseled graduates on persistence and resilience, telling them, "Hey, it's hard now, but it's been hard before. When I graduated from college, the war in Vietnam was raging, there was a draft . . . When my dad graduated, he got shipped off to Europe and World War II."

Pambazuko Nyaawie named to dean's list at Purchase College 

Pambazuko Nyaawie, of Canyon Country, has been named to Purchase College's dean's list for the spring 2020 semester. Nyaawie is studying dance.

To be eligible for the dean's list, students must carry a semester GPA of 3.5 for bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs and 3.75 for bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of music performance programs. They must take a minimum of 12 credits.

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. His aspiration for Purchase was to create a dynamic campus that combined conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, in order to inspire an appreciation for both intellectual and artistic talents in all students.

Housebound Minnesotans are picking up the easy-to-learn ukulele - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 08:18 AM PST

Fans of singer-songwriter Taylor James Donskey used to catch him at local clubs and coffeehouses, performing original folkie-country tunes or jamming with his band.

With COVID-19 closing many live music outlets, Donskey now plays for much smaller audiences. Instead of a stage, he's wedged into the tiny studio in his Minneapolis apartment, leaning into his laptop and greeting students livestreaming his ukulele class.

"This is the A chord. It's your peace sign fingers, your pointer and your middle finger," he said, positioning the neck of the instrument closer to the camera. "Let's play together. I'll count you off."

A graduate of the University of Minnesota's School of Music and an in-demand local side man, Donskey is now occupied with teaching gigs using the first instrument he learned to play.

"I borrowed one from my high school when I was 14," he said. "It's accessible. And it's just a little silly. When you hold a ukulele, there's no way to frown."

With its four strings and bright sound, the ukulele is finding a growing following among Minnesotans who have been grounded by the pandemic and have time for a new hobby. It's easy to learn and available for a song; the cost of the plucky instrument starts at around $30.

Newbies can watch a bevy of YouTube tutorials or sign up for online classes offered through various Minnesota community education programs, music shops, even MacPhail Center for Music.

These players join an existing group of musical Minnesotans devoted to the ukulele. In recent years, ukulele concerts, seminars and festivals have attracted local fans who like to play or listen to the instrument. Clubs from the Twin Cities suburbs to the North Shore have regularly met to play together; now the amateur musicians have shifted their strum-and-sings to online platforms and Facebook Live.

A ukulele world

David Remiger is one of the merry leaders of the Minnesota movement. "The ukulele brings me such joy and pleasure. I can't read music very well but the song sheets make it easy for the average player," he said.

Known by the handle Ukester Brown, the retired Remiger took up the instrument early in his career as a UPS delivery man.

"I played on breaks to stay in the present; otherwise your brain is thinking about the next 10 stops. Making music allowed me to rest and relax. And the truck had amazingly good acoustics," he said.

"My boss started calling me Ukester and Brown is for the uniform I wore for 30 years. Now my wife is known as Mrs. Brown. We get a kick out of it."

At the dawn of the digital era, Remiger dipped a toe into what he calls the "ukulele world," with a website to share his song sheets. Later he used it to upload his videos, promote his teaching and set up community singalong gigs.

"When the internet was a newborn, players were able to find each other. We all thought we were the only one," he said. "Now I'm part of a worldwide community. I have friends all over the world and have traveled to teach and played at a bunch of festivals."

Remiger finds the instrument easy on his hands and fingers; he knows lifelong guitar players plagued with arthritis who have shifted to the ukulele.

On the other end of the age scale, musical educators suggest that children can begin playing about age 4; they're big enough to grip the instrument and understand the chords.

Parents are heading into Twin Town Guitars in Minneapolis to check out the store's wall of ukuleles of different sizes, colors and price points, snapping them up for their kids and themselves.

"We've seen a big bump," said store owner Andrew Bell. "It's not a major investment like a drum kit or a keyboard and they can scamper over to a guitar or a bass once they learn. The principles transfer."

He employs 30 musician-teachers, including Donskey, who offer online individual, group and parent-child lessons.

"A teacher at the other end of the screen looking at your technique and giving feedback is invaluable," Bell said. "We prefer teaching face-to-face and doing live showcases, but there's no way to do that safely now."

Popping up again

Long associated with Hawaii, the precursor to the ukulele arrived on the islands in the 1880s with Portuguese immigrants who worked the sugar fields and played what was called a four-stringed machete. Renamed the ukulele, it grew in popularity; even Hawaii's king and queen were accomplished players and favored it at royal events.

Since then the ukulele has ridden numerous waves of popularity, embraced by Jazz Age musicians and working its way into the bluegrass scene.

The miniature instrument got a boost with virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro's rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's strummed version of "Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World," which became early viral videos.

Since then, Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz and Jeremy Messersmith have featured ukuleles on some of their hits and in their concerts; Grammy-winner Billie Eilish recently partnered with Fender to market her signature ukulele.

"The sound is so heartwarming. It's a cheerful antidote to the dark wintry season we are entering," Bell said.

Someday singalongs

Meghan Thompson looks forward to Thursday nights. That's when she picks up her newly purchased ukulele and joins a few other beginners for Donskey's virtual music class.

"I live alone in an apartment and I work all day from home with back-to-back Zoom calls," she said. "Thursdays are a bright spot."

Although she hasn't played an instrument since she put down her junior high clarinet, she's already able to string together enough chords to fake her way through a few introductory songs. For now, her only audience is Cindy, her newly adopted rescue terrier, who offers no criticism as she practices "You Are My Sunshine."

But Thompson imagines a time when human ears will hear her strumming.

"I have some musical family members who bust out the guitar at Christmas or when we get together. I'd love to participate in that beyond singing along," she said. "Someday we'll all be back around the fire pit again having fun, won't we?"

Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis-based freelance broadcaster and writer.

High school seniors lament what they are missing as they plan for the future - EdSource

Posted: 19 Nov 2020 12:11 AM PST

Once again, California high school seniors are facing a year of uncertainty. They don't know if they will be able to go to their prom or attend their graduation. Those planning to go away to college next fall now wonder if they will be able to live on campus or whether they will be staying home and doing more distance learning.

Camila Cruzado, 17, and her tight-knit group of friends had high hopes for their senior year before the pandemic forced the closure of Pinole Valley High in the San Francisco East Bay and other California schools. Since they were small children they had imagined it would be like "High School Musical," Cruzado said.

Pinole Valley High and other West Contra Costa Unified schools began the school year on Aug. 17 with almost all of its students learning from home.

"I was hoping I could have fun with my friends and take a lot of pictures and have a lot of memories," Cruzado said. "Now I'm stuck at home. We're not even going to have a graduation ceremony, and we worked so hard."

The experience has brought the group closer, she said. They facetime one another almost every day, and confide in each other when they are struggling. Cruzado has struggled due to personal issues and anxiety over keeping up with her assignments, she said. But, she feels emotionally supported by her friends.

"I was going through my own battles, and trying not to feel worthless, because of problems that have been going on, and heartbreak, and all of that combined with schoolwork stress," Cruzado said. " But (my friends) will Facetime or call at random times, and they try not to judge."

Despite concerns about college and the social restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus, Alexandra Mitchel, 18, is trying to enjoy her senior year at Shasta High, which is open and holding classes with a mask requirement, social distancing and other safety precautions.

Students attend school in small groups two days a week and work from home three days a week. But, athletics, band and social activities have been put on hold.

"As the senior typical events and opportunities pass by, I am learning more about how much I was looking forward to some of the silly, celebratory things," Mitchell said. "I would love to be that person who says 'I don't care about high school. I just want to graduate and get out.' …I actually want the full senior experience, but I know that I won't receive it."

Playing in the school band is the thing Mitchell misses the most. In the last few months she has been taught music history in band class instead of playing her flute. She had been looking forward to organizing performances and parties as the band president.

She will get the chance to perform again soon, although she will be doing it at home alone. The school's music program will put on its annual Madrigal Dinner performance, with the choir and band performing virtually. The musicians and singers will record their parts individually, and they will be edited together. Dinner, previously served at the show, will be offered for pickup, so families can eat their meals and watch the performance at home.

Mitchell is an honor student, but has found it difficult to retain information learned online. She is concerned that taking college courses online may impact her grades, especially as she acclimates to university-level work.

She doesn't believe that moving between in-person and online instruction has hurt her high school grades, although she won't be certain until report cards come out in December.

"The pandemic has presented its fair share of issues, but I have managed to overcome them and prevent them from having a negative impact on my grades," she said.

Cruzado is concerned that her senior year grades may haunt her after high school. Last year, she got mostly A's, she said, but this year she is on track to only get one A and two C's. She's also worried that she might fail her government class, because she hasn't completed all the assignments.

She's fallen behind for a number of reasons, she said. It's partly due to the time she spends helping her mother with her younger brother Leo — a freshman who has a learning disability. Her mother doesn't speak English, so Cruzado translates for her and Leo's teachers, which has been a major challenge.

"To be honest if everything wasn't at home, school would be so much easier, I can't think of a way that (my teachers) can help me out," she said.

Planning for college comes with even more uncertainty for the seniors, who can't predict what Covid-19 infection rates will be like next year.

Mitchell was planning to go away to college when she graduates from Shasta High School in Redding in June, but with many campuses closed because of the coronavirus she isn't sure whether she should plan to leave home at all.

"Typically, I would anticipate living in a dormitory on campus, but with the pandemic going on I am not certain of what I should expect," Mitchell said.

Alternately, she worries that choosing to stay home next year and moving onto campus her sophomore year will make it harder to adjust to being a college student.

Mitchell is applying to UCLA, UC Davis and to the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently, UCLA is closed for most in-person instruction. UC Davis has limited in-person instruction and the University of Nevada, Reno will move back to remote instruction after the Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30 because of Covid-19 outbreaks.

Cruzado, who wants to be a social worker, has just started meeting with counselors to help her understand the college application process. She also is getting help from counselors at the RYSE Center, a youth center, in Richmond, where she has a paid online internship. Her latest project for the internship was facilitating a virtual talent show local students.

She plans on attending her local community college, Contra Costa College, and hopefully transfer to UC Berkeley.

Jessica Ramos, 17, a senior at Skyline High in Oakland Unified, started the school year online with a donated Chromebook and hotspot.

A 4.0 student, she has since applied to Montana State University. And she's busy completing applications to University of California campuses, while also working on an early decision application for her dream school — Stanford University.

But getting help completing her application essays has been harder during distance learning than it would be if she were able to pop in on teachers and advisers on campus.

"Knowing myself," she said, "I would be at the college advising center 24-7, because that's usually what seniors do until their applications are submitted."

Instead, Ramos must schedule online appointments with college advisors or teachers, then wait up to three days to get her questions answered.

Ramos struggled to come up with ideas for her essays. Eventually she decided to focus on the things she is doing to help her community. She wrote about being the student representative to the Oakland School Board, working on a committee to help provide laptops and internet access to low-income students. She worked for the successful passage of Measure QQ on Nov. 3, which gives 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in Oakland Unified school board elections. She also worked the phone to urge people to vote for Proposition 15, a measure that appeared headed for defeat. It would have raised billions for California schools.

"What I discovered and know about myself is that I want to make changes in my community," Ramos said. "That's why I'm pursuing higher education — to make changes in the education system or the housing and public safety system."

EdSource's trusted, in-depth reporting has never mattered more.

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SMTD News November 2020 -2020 - School of Music, Theatre and Dance - News - OU Magazine - News at OU

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 02:33 PM PST


Our fall performance season kicked off with Mark Stone's annual Peace Day concert on Sept. 20. The event happened live in the Varner Hall Courtyard and was livestreamed on the SMTD Facebook page. Professor Stone was interviewed by Civic Center TV, during which he discussed the return to campus and the Peace Day concert.

The Peace Day concert was so successful that SMTD continued to have more outdoor, socially-distanced events in the Varner Hall Courtyard including From Vivaldi to Metal - the OU Strings Play It All; Brass Ensembles; Percussion Studio Recital; and World Music Concerts.

SMTD's partnership with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit continued on Thursday September 17 as Associate Professor of Music Tian Tian (piano) joined the Aeolus Quartet and Caitlin Lynch (soprano) for a free livestreamed performance of music by Bach, Brahms and Ravel.

On Friday Oct. 9, four students from the Department of Dance presented a socially responsive event at Elliott Tower entitled "Bodies in Protest." Using sections from iconic speeches, new choreography and audience participation, the event examined nonviolent protest from the past and the present in an effort to inspire future support. The choreography was by class members Katie Kirkum, Victoria Poirier, Laurel Ryan, and Grace Zimmerman, under the direction of OU Associate Professor of Dance Thayer Jonutz.

SMTD also started streaming a series of play readings from the Department of Theatre entitled New Voices Rise Up!, as well as faculty events like New Music Night (Ben Fuhrman) and Twilight and Night (Drake Dantzler, tenor and Victoria Shively, piano.)

Brandon Wright, a special lecturer for theatre at Oakland University, who is directing Appropriate for the New Voices Rise Up! series of play readings from the Department of Theatre, was featured on the Oakland County Megacast on Nov. 17. Civic Center TV and the Megacast have posted the interview on their website and a link to the podcast can be found here: Appropriate streams on Monday, November 23 at 7 p.m. RSVP to to reserve your virtual seat.

On Nov. 7, more than 140 students and educators participated in the Department of Music's first ever Instrumental Musicianship Symposium. The participating high schools spanned from Michigan to Utah, Georgia, New Jersey, California and Malaysia. The day included innovative sessions by headliners like Patrick Sheridan of The Breathing Gym, "The President's Own" United States Marine Band and Marine Orchestra, Regina Carter, Yoga for Musicians and much more.

As the semester draws to an end, we are adding more live and pre-recorded events on our website daily at


Acting alumna Jordan Taylor (BFA '19) was in the premiere reading of Jeff Whitty's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream — in collaboration with Play On Shakespeare and originally commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Jordan, who is in the MFA program at Case Western/Cleveland Playhouse, played the role of Hermia. The play was directed and produced through Zoom by Shakespeare at Notre Dame. For more information, click here.

James Isabirye

A research article written by James Isabirye (PhD '19) has been accepted for publication in the international journal Research Studies in Music Education. The article, based on his dissertation study, is titled "Indigenous Music Learning in Contemporary Contexts: Nurturing Learner Identity, Agency, and Passion." Isabirye has also been appointed as full-time Lecturer of Music and Music Education at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. James says "Thank you for all the support and hello to all of my friends in SMTD at OU."

Music alumna Ann Toomey (BM '14), soprano, has been cast in the role of First Lady in the 2021 production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne, a world-leading opera house in the heart of the Sussex countryside in England. Toomey was recently signed to IMG Artists for general management. For more information, visit

Theatre alum Matthew Carlsen (BFA '20) recently won the 2020 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) National Award for Costume Design for his presentation/costume design work on OU's fall 2019 production of Urinetown.

Kathryn Calleja

Dance alumna Kathryn Calleja (BA '20) has been admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at OU (her first choice of grad schools.) In addition, Calleja was one of only six students at OU to receive an award in a field of research for her honors thesis and was awarded both a "Thesis Award in Dance" and "Honors College Thesis with Distinction" for her anatomical study of improper pointe shoe use and how teachers can help their student work in more healthy way. "I am so excited to continue my education at such an amazing school and to keep pursuing my goals," Calleja said. "I am very grateful for all of the dance faculty's support and inspiration throughout my time in the program, and every opportunity they have provided me with, to allow me to grow as an artist and individual. I especially want to thank Dr. Kattner, my mentor, for her guidance in helping me to combine my passion for dance and science into my thesis!"

Theatre alum Kai Stidham (BFA '18) and SMTD vocal coach/collaborative pianist Cat Menzies have landed roles in Nicely Theatre Group's upcoming production of Disenchanted! There will be a virtual release in January 2021. For more information, visit


Oakland University started the Fall 2020 semester in a hybrid of in-person and online classes.

Take Root

If you were on campus, you may have seen the Brass Band or Golden Grizzlies Band rehearsing in the parking structure or Take Root's Dance for Parkinson's Disease program filming videos outside on the lawn between Elliott and Varner. Take Root has been creating ongoing videos that they've been posting to their website,, every month for the Dance for Parkinson's Disease program and the Arts Education Impact Program. The videos are filmed on campus and include Take Root interns who are also OU dance majors. "This is our way to continue our connection with the community and support them through this pandemic," said Associate Professor of Dance Ali Woerner, who co-founded Take Root in 2013 with fellow Associate Professor of Dance Thayer Jonutz.

On the virtual side, our Voice Area's first meeting of the semester included two "family photos" — you can see them here and here. They continue to meet as a large group for masterclass on the first Tuesday of each month. Any alums who would like to attend are welcome, just email

makeup class

Students in Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Whitney Locher's makeup class took photos of the great work they have been doing — view photos here on our Facebook page.

Students found creative ways to virtually rehearse with one another. Claudia Montoya-Hernandez and Corrin Kliewer — members of the OU Flute Ensemble — have been working on several video recording projects this semester. Click here, and you can see them performing the first and second movement of Duet in G by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Claudia and Corrin both study with Brandon LePage.

The Oakland Chorale held its annual costume contest on Friday, Oct. 30. Professor of Music Mike Mitchell, director of the Oakland Chorale, shared this photo of the students dressed up like "baby shark," Little Bo Peep, renowned composer Eric Whitacre and many more.


Oakland University and the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) have partnered to provide Bachelor of Arts degrees in performance, songwriting and music industry business classes to students wanting to study commercial music and pursue a career in music. Since the announcement, SMTD has had several OU/DIME events, including a masterclass on Oct. 9 and a Virtual Living Room Open Mic night on Oct. 23. The masterclass was the first of these collaborative classes with DIME and OU faculty, including Phyllis White. Dr. White said, "It was an incredibly positive and incredibly successful masterclass and I believe the first of many positive and successful collaborations to come."

lily belle

Vocal performance and music education major Lily Belle Czartorski performed in the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Vocal Competition on Sept. 12. She placed third and won the Friends of the Opera Audience Award. Czartorski was one of 10 singers selected nationally for this competition. Alumna Gillian Tackett (BM '20) was also a finalist but opted not to compete this year. For full details of the competition and to watch Czartorski perform an aria from Street Scene (37.07), visit:

Several OU dance faculty members participated in the virtual Detroit Dance City Festival, which was held Sept. 9-13. The Friday Dance Battle, which was held on Sept. 11, was adjudicated by Gregory Patterson, OU associate professor of dance and chair of the Department of Dance, and the Live Q&A with Masters, held on Sept. 12, was moderated by Elizabeth Kattner, OU associate professor of dance. 

tom mahard

On November 9, the 2019-20 Wilde Awards were announced and OU Theatre Special Lecturer Thomas D. Mahard received "The Critics Award" for his career of exceptional work on stage and his lifetime of devotion to Michigan theatre as an actor and teacher.

This year's Michigan Dance Festival, held November 13-14, was completely virtual and free to all Michigan Dance Council members. Several OU dance faculty members taught at the festival, including Christina Tasco, Teresa Muller and Gregory Patterson.

Associate Professor of Dance Elizabeth Kattner's new book, Finding Balanchine's Lost Ballets: Exploring the Early Choreography of a Master, is available through University Press of Florida books. In the first book to focus exclusively on Balanchine's Russian ballets, Dr. Kattner offers new insights into the artistic evolution of a legend through her reconstruction of his first group ballet, Funeral March. Drawing on more than a decade of research conducted in archives in the United States and Europe, Kattner synthesizes textual descriptions, photographs, musical scores, and the comparative study of other early Balanchine ballets in order to re-create this forgotten work. Finding Balanchine's Lost Ballets enriches our understanding of Balanchine's development as a choreographer through its ambitious, original approach to the subject.

noah canales

Junior musical theatre major Noah Canales was selected to join 29 other vocalists to compete in the semi-final round of the the American Pops Orchestra (APO)'s 4th annual vocal competition "NextGen: The Voices of Tomorrow" on Nov. 21. The 30 semi-finalists come from university programs across the country and will virtually compete to move on to the final round of the NextGen competition. During the competition, finalists will be selected based on votes from a panel of judges and a virtual audience. Please consider joining the audience (and supporting Noah) by registering for free at Selected finalists will advance to the final round to win the ultimate title. Cash prizes will be awarded, and the first-place winner will be featured in an upcoming APO show in the 2021-2022 season. Noah studies voice with Alta Marie Boover.

The Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) held online student auditions this month and three of our students placed: Seth Miller received 2nd place for collegiate Tenor, Baritone, Bass (all levels Freshmen-Senior); Kevin Cornwell III received 1st place for collegiate Tenor, Baritone, Bass (all levels Freshmen-Senior); and Angela Bonello received 1st place Junior Treble Voices.

community music

Lastly, it is not too late to start music lessons this fall and winter season! Oakland University Community Music (OUCM) offers virtual lessons for all ages in all instruments/voices. Our highly qualified teachers — who offer the expertise, commitment and vibrant energy of a university music department — are here for you. OUCM is offering a special discounted private lessons package for new students! To learn more, visit or email


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