Senior music majors get their chance to shine

After spending hours in the practice rooms, students get a chance to share the fruit of their work

Pearson Good & Moriah Pringle


The Masters University Music

Gabriel and Kimberly's Senior Recital

Kyle Shannon, staff writer

Jonathan Libby, a senior in CDub, had his senior recital over a year ago, but seemed to remember every detail.

“It took me three years to prepare for that. I started with my voice lessons and went from there,” says Libby. “We started (my first) semester building the foundational understanding of how to sing and how to sing well. By the second semester, we were actually choosing rep for the recital.”

At The Master’s University, preparing for a student recital is a complex process. Students must not only perform well, but also work with their instructor, musical faculty and fellow students to show others what they’re capable of and how they’ve grown musically, while giving God the glory for their achievements.

“You’re not just singing notes. You’re performing emotion. You’re making it so you have this idea and this understanding of ‘how do I want to engage my audience and trap them and pull them into where I am, so they feel the same things I am?’ and then take them on the emotional roller coaster with you.” says Libby.

The recital itself is assigned to the student as a class, overseen by Sarah Dixon, the director of vocal studies at the music department. Dixon and Tricia Hulet, the department’s music events coordinator, handle the technical aspects of the performance. According to Dixon, the student’s recital is required to meet numerous requirements.

“The vocalists have to represent three different languages in their junior recital and four different languages in their senior recital,” says Dixon.

About four weeks before the recital, the student must pass a pre-recital jury to prove to the department that he or she is ready. The student performs for a panel of music faculty members for 15 minutes, along with anyone else performing, such as an accompanist or a partner in a duet.

Students are also expected to turn in their program for the recital during their jury. These programs, created by the students, do more than list off the songs the student will sing. Instrumentalists often explain their pieces in the program notes, while vocalists often include translations of the songs they’re singing.

But the responsibilities of the student go well beyond the music. Among other things, they are required to pick out their stage manager, their audio technician, the person in charge of introductions and opening prayer, and the piano used, if any. The students are also responsible for marketing their recital.

“Facebook is a beautiful thing. I will say that it is an absolutely beautiful thing,” says Libby. “Also, get your friends talking about it. Get people excited about it outside of it.”

And then, after years of preparation, comes the recital.

“It was really fun and sweet to be able to share that with all my friends that came and listened, and to celebrate with them,” says Abby Olson, who had her senior recital on April 22 of this year. “It was just nice not have the stress of it on me anymore, and being able to really let it all go, and know that I had done my best, and that it was done.”

During the recital itself, the student has to focus on performing as well as possible, leaving the details of the event to Tricia Hulet and her production team.

“On average, I have a stage manager, three setup guys, two audio guys, one live stream technician, one house manager, one box office manager, and a lighting technician,” says Hulet. This does not include the students volunteering as ushers.

All of these workers and volunteers must not only accomplish their tasks with excellence, but with a high level of hospitality to patrons.

“It’s a neat opportunity for them to really show, I think, a biblical level of hospitality at a performance venue,” says Hulet.

When done right, a music recital can help students achieve excellence in music and provide material for audition tapes. But when done with the right motivations, Dixon believes it can do much more.

“Ultimately it matters because we are to do everything for the Lord. To give him excellence. The Bible says play skillfully,” says Dixon. “Don’t just write down your ten hours of practice time for nothing. We’re doing this for the Lord. Because we want to give Him our best.”