CUTF: Navigating the Music, One (Half or Whole) Step at a Time

Over my four years in the Heinz Chapel Choir, I’ve had the privilege of working with Dr. Rice in a variety of projects. Under her guidance, I have successfully led practices outside of class, organized fundraisers, designed and distributed merchandise, guided Big/Little Induction Ceremonies, and have recently given starting pitches to the choir during our concert series. In the Fall of 2020, I led the Sibling Choir Experiential Learning Service Project, initiating the ongoing sibling choir relationship with the University of Northern Iowa Varsity Men’s Glee Club. 

When I discovered what this fellowship entails, I knew that working with the Heinz Chapel Choir would be a perfect opportunity to realize my teaching skills in a choral setting. Moreover, Dr. Rice and I have worked together on a significant number of projects in the past – not only does she know what I’m capable of, but she is also someone I know I can rely on if I have trouble. As an experienced pedagogue and musician, she understands what it’s like to experience music in front of and behind the podium – if there’s a moment of difficulty, she can expertly determine how to overcome those moments from a chorister’s point of view. In short, she’s a legend. 

When I initially proposed my project, I had several broad ideas of how I could be of service. I didn’t have the knowledge of what the choir needed moving forward, which is where Dr. Rice came in. After several meetings, we were able to develop a project that addressed different skill sets in a way that is efficient, tangible, and to the point. I must admit, now that I’ve gotten in the swing of my office hours, imposter syndrome hits hard. Though I have my lesson plans in front of me, many of my endeavors remain in the moment – I must rely on my knowledge and my ears to determine what the student needs at that precise time. What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer to? In combating those concerns, I often remind myself that I know more than I let myself believe. And, if I really don’t know what to do next, Dr. Rice is sure to navigate me in the right direction. Practice, collaboration, and honesty can go a long way! 

Score study in the great outdoors!

To those who are considering engaging in teaching opportunities like this one, I’d recommend that you first consider the topics that you could talk about for hours; really hone in on a subject. From there, find a couple of professors that fit those considerations – ideally, you’ll reach out to a mentor who you’ve worked with/taken a class from before. Odds are, once you present a couple of ideas of what you bring to the table, they’ll have a sense of how you can both proceed. If it’s any solace, professors want to see you succeed, especially when it comes to helping others in a field they’re passionate about. So just give it a go and see where it leads you! 

As always, stay *tuned* for more updates!

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