FORT WAYNE – The first thing Julie Donnell instructs her students to do is take off their shoes before warming up.
She tells them to feel the smooth texture of the stage in IPFW’s Rhinehart Recital Hall, letting the energy flow upward as their deep breathing calms them.
“Think for a minute what it feels like to be your instrument,” she said.
“If you had a trumpet, you would polish it and take good care of it – but we often take advantage of bodies. If you walk onstage feeling like this, you’re going to feel good,” she said.
In its second year, the College Vocal Audition Workshop prepared four high school students Saturday for the competitive field of pursuing a music education.
High school students Levi Hoffman, Dorinda Brito, Samantha Stoiche and Cassie Buescher signed up for the one-day workshop to receive additional training in appearance, poise and music preparation.
“Often students have been in more of a choral situation than a voice situation, so it gives them some exposure to know what it’s like to sing by yourself,” said Donnell, IPFW adjunct professor of music.
Students brought two audition pieces that they first rehearsed with IPFW’s voice instructors before singing in mock auditions.
Sam Savage, IPFW coordinator of voice, said the workshop is meant to help students improve their first impression with college professors.
Students are also given resources for different audition processes and music theory preparation for placement exams.
“This is where you get to make your mistakes. It’s a good opportunity to learn what they thought was expected and what is actually expected,” Savage said. “We explain to them where they can find the information, because every school is a little different.”
Hoffman, a Concordia High School senior, plans to pursue vocal performance in college.
He said his mother informed him about the workshop last week to help with two upcoming auditions. One is for DePaul University, which Savage says has a competitive voice program.
“I guess I just want to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing in these auditions because they are coming up and I’m not really ready,” Hoffman said. “I know what I need to have ready, but I don’t know if it’s going to be intense or anything.”
Savage says he is noticing that more incoming college students are entering music education not only to perform but also to serve in growing fields like music technology and music therapy.
Brito, a Wawasee High School senior who has been involved in school musicals, plans to attend medical school, but she’s also interested in minoring in music.
“I know if I’m in a surgery room, I probably won’t be able just to sing to them,” Brito says. “But I could pray over them and sing a song. It would keep me calm.”
For Buescher, a sophomore at Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis, when she thinks about the challenges she’ll face pursuing a musical theater degree, she remembers how her dad would cry when she performed with the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir for three years, and how she is prepared to spread that joyaround.
“It’s how I pray,” she said. “When I sing, I’m just using my gift to give glory to God, and I think that’s why I want to pursue music.”