“The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” – Maria Cristina Mena
Emory & Henry requires every Music Major to take four semesters of general piano. Students outside of the music program are also allowed to take piano. Every level of experience is welcomed into the classroom. Private lessons are also given upon request.
Meet Our Alumni
- <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/11-cristin-colvin" title="Cristin Colvin" aria-label="Cristin Colvin"><img src="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/19_4ceea7fca8e732c016924b3ab2250f5f_f53281.rev.1490706776.jpg" alt="Cristin Colvin" title="Cristin Colvin" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/19_4ceea7fca8e732c016924b3ab2250f5f_f53281.rev.1490706776.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="666"/></a></span><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/11-cristin-colvin"><p> Cristin Colvin (’09) has Much to Sing About</p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><p> Cristin Colvin, a vocal and piano major, says she’s in the “young artist” phase of her life —gaining performance experience wherever she can in summer opera festivals and small companies. She also performs jazz on the side for fun, and in the next few months, she’s planning to start a new band in her town in Broomfield County, between Denver and Boulder, Colorado.</p><p> If that’s not impressive enough, the 2009 Emory & Henry graduate has more news to sing about.</p><p> Earlier this spring, Colvin performed at a black-tie benefit gala for the Castleton Festival at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. The Evening of Music was hosted by German actress Deitlinde Turban Maazel and philanthropist Daisy Soros to honor the legacy of Maestro Lorin Maazel and to benefit the 2015 Castleton Festival.</p><p> “I was lucky to be in the Castleton Artist Training Seminar (CATS) during the 2014 season, so I was brought in for the performance, along with other alumni,” explained Colvin, who shared the stage with Lang Lang, a well-known concert pianist, and Alec Baldwin, actor, producer and comedian, who offered opening remarks.</p><p> “Needless to say, it was both humbling and nerve-wracking to sing five feet away from Alec Baldwin, and the hostesses who are key players in the lifeline of this community and art form,” said Colvin.</p><p> Colvin’s participation in the Castleton Artist Seminar has offered her invaluable opportunities in the music field.</p><p> The training seminar is one of the broadest preparations for pre-professional singers available in the United States today. The seminar consists of seven-weeks of study with vocal training, classes in European languages, acting and performance skills, monologue studies, Alexander Technique, dance, stage combat, career preparation, audition techniques, digital marketing, and multiple performance opportunities.</p><p> Colvin explained that every participant of the training seminars becomes part of a network for the future. The artistic leaders of the CATS program provide advice and guidance to the alumni, and leaders shape the Castleton Festival programs based on the artists who will be performing.</p><p> “The CATS program was a unique summer festival experience in that the young artists attending as apprentices worked alongside up-and-coming professionals and renowned teachers and directors, ate meals with them at the community fire hall, and shared housing with them on Maestro Maazel’s farm in Rappahannock County,” said Colvin.</p><p> “The farm was a great equalizer in a way, where everyone could focus on rehearsals, learn from each other, and grow in musical maturity. I had the chance to sing in the chorus of <em>Madama Butterfly</em> and work in sitzprobe rehearsals with Maestro shortly before his passing. As a CAT, I got voice lessons and coachings with teachers who had shared the stage with the likes of Joan Sutherland and have been part of landmark recordings of classic repertoire. It was quite something to get all of these unique artistic perspectives, to absorb them, and take them back home at the end of the festival.”</p><p> But, there’s no way the alumna can forget the education she received at Emory & Henry College. She credits her education at Emory & Henry for providing her with the foundation she needs to excel. While at E&H, Colvin was awarded academic scholarships, including the Clarice Hankley Piano Scholarship.</p><blockquote> Without a doubt, my two major professors, Dr. Lisa Withers and Dr. Stephen Sieck, were invaluable to me. I had many moments of doubt, but they always pushed me. I may not have fully appreciated it until years later, but now I see where they were guiding me. Even after leaving music for so many years, they have been there both as great cheerleaders and resources.</blockquote><p> The young musician didn’t start singing until she was 16, however, she’s been playing piano since age 9, and she played the violin throughout middle school and high school.</p><p> After graduation from Emory & Henry, the musician strayed from her passion before circling back to music.</p><p> She briefly went to graduate school for women’s studies in Chicago, where she was interested in studying the cultural aspects of music through the lens of gender studies. Later, she worked in higher education administration for two years before she decided a musical career answered her need to feel fulfilled.</p><p> Back on the music path, she went to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn a master’s degree in music. This brought her back to music.</p><p> This summer, the performer returned to Castleton Festival in the premiere of Derrick Wang’s <em>Scalia/Ginsburg</em>. “I also got to be a supernumerary in the show as a statue that comes to life, so I got to do a lot of improv and physical comedy.”</p><p> She’s also planning to start a new band in Colorado as a follow-up to the Cristin Colvin Quartet she organized at her previous home in Illinois.</p><p> A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Colvin is married to Daniel James, and their family of three live in Broomfield County between Denver and Boulder, Colo. “I love mountains; they are such a part of my identity and give me such energy. What an exciting new chapter in life to be out by the Rockies, the geographically volatile cousin of the Smokies.”</p></div><a href="/live/profiles/11-cristin-colvin" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>
- <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/12-jason-jones" title="Jason Jones" aria-label="Jason Jones"><img src="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/20_50e7f6e024ddf954897b5c198cf66106_f51611.rev.1490707161.jpg" alt="Jason Jones" title="Jason Jones" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1000,666/20_50e7f6e024ddf954897b5c198cf66106_f51611.rev.1490707161.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1000" data-max-h="666"/></a></span><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/12-jason-jones"><p> Jason Jones (’12) Giving Hope to At-Risk Children</p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><p> In a school district where the failure rate is very high and the pass rate is very low, Jason Jones is making a difference.</p><p> The 2012 Emory & Henry graduate is giving hope every day to at-risk children in San Antonio, Texas, hundreds of miles from his hometown in Greeneville, Tenn., where he teaches K-5 music during the day and, after school, directs the choir and orchestra, teaches music memory, and advises the yearbook staff.</p><p> And, he’s doing it one note at a time.</p><p> Two years ago, Jones introduced orchestra music to students at Highlands Hills Elementary School, the only one among 54 schools in the district that has an orchestra program.</p><p> The results have been astounding.</p><p> “I’ve seen students who were not motivated to be in school. I’ve seen students who were making low grades and poor choices,” said Jones.</p><p> “After a fifth-grade student joined the orchestra, she got involved in school. She became a school patrol; she went on to middle school where she continued to take music. She’s taken all honor classes—just because she was in the orchestra. It changed her life, and it’s changing the lives of other students.”</p><p> Following college graduation, Jones completed a two-year position with Teach for America at Highland Hills Elementary School. When his two-year position was completed, he was asked to stay.</p><p> Jones said he was among 54,000 applicants when he applied for the Teach for America position in 2012. The organization only accepted 5,000 teachers that year and only 100 of them were placed in San Antonio.</p><p> No doubt about it, he’s making his mark on education.</p><p> Jones witnessed more affluent schools in the district enjoying generous budgets while his school did not have the money for extra music programs.</p><p> “I didn’t think it was fair that students in the richer part of the city got to learn these instruments and my students on the south side of San Antonio in a poor neighborhood didn’t have those same opportunities,” Jones said. “Nearly 100 percent of the children eat free and reduced lunches. They can’t afford instruments or music lessons. Some of their parents work as many as four jobs.”</p><p> He couldn’t help but think back to the conversations that took place in Dr. Julia Wilson’s sociology classroom when he was a student. “Fighting for the less fortunate people who don’t know how to help themselves really stuck with me.”</p><p> So, instead of complaining, he and a middle school orchestra teacher applied for a grant to receive help. Their school was awarded a $10,000 grant from San Antonio Independent School District Foundation (SAISD), which paid for 20 instruments for the students in 2012. Two years later, the school received another $500 for upkeep costs to the instruments.</p><p> “I will be applying for another grant this coming school year because I should have 35 to 40 students in orchestra,” he said.</p><p> Before Jones received the grant money, he was paying for music supplies out of his own pocket. “There’s no extra pay or stipends for running the orchestra program. I just call it a love for teaching,” said Jones, who learned Spanish on his own so that he could teach six Spanish classes at the school.</p><p> When his co-worker became ill, Jones took over the program. “I’d never taken a strings course; I don’t play violin, cello or bass. “I concentrated in voice and piano at Emory & Henry, but, I was given the music education skills at Emory & Henry to be able to teach strings.”</p><p> Jones also has organized a student choir at the school. “The first year I had 12 students in choir class, now I have 85 or more. I’m also adding a hand bells choir next year.”</p><p> Perhaps the most exciting news is that all of Jones’ orchestra students passed standardized tests this year, and 90 percent of his fifth-grade choir students passed the tests.</p><p> His work at the school seems never-ending.</p><p> Jones started after-school clubs at the school, one of which is a music memory academic club that meets once a week for third-through-fifth-grade students. “We study scores of classical pieces. They have to memorize and learn every piece, who wrote it, when they wrote it, and the names of large and small works,” he explained. His students entered a regional competition this year and nearly all of the students placed.</p><p> In addition, he received a grant to organize a year book club, allowing the school to publish its first year book in 30 years.</p><p> Jones is earning a second master’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio where he received the Presidential Scholarship from the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. He also received the Dashnell Endowment Scholarship for which he was the first elementary focus to receive.</p><p> He is being mentored by the nation’s leading expert on a Dalcroze Eurythmics at UTSA, a developmental approach to enhance musical expression and understanding for students of all ages.</p><p> He is an active member of the San Antonio Teachers’ Alliance (campus representative), the Texas State Teachers’ Association (regional and state delegate), the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and the Texas Music Educators’ Association. For two years, he has been a 2012 corps member for the San Antonio Region of Teach for America. </p><p> One of his best pieces of advice to future teachers:</p><blockquote> I teach my students how to be thinkers. I learned at Emory & Henry to be a thinker, not a follower or just a doer, but instead a thinker and a leader. And that’s what I want my students to learn.</blockquote></div><a href="/live/profiles/12-jason-jones" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>
- <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/693-warren-fuson" title="Warren Fuson" aria-label="Warren Fuson"><img src="/live/image/gid/2/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,500,272/343_6969c4a26ecd70316cf5735d50b4835e_f6478.rev.1500312430.jpg" alt="Warren Fuson" title="Warren Fuson" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="500" data-max-h="272"/></a></span><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_profiles_headline"><a href="/live/profiles/693-warren-fuson"><p> SPEBSQSA</p></a></h4><div class="lw_profiles_description"><p> Founded in 1938 by Owen Clifton Cash, the Society for The Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America was an organization with a mission. Mr. Cash was worried that people had ceased to sing the “old songs” – so he set about the business of preserving old music, and to make sure that the pastime of singing in four-part harmony didn’t fade away.</p><p> Fast forward 78 years, and you find a guy like Warren Fuson (E&H ’73) serving as the chapter president for the SPEBSQSA chapter in the Research Triangle of North Carolina. “There are 800 chapters world-wide,” says Warren, “and you can find chapters in up to 11 different countries.” This is especially noteworthy because the rules are that Barbershop music has to be sung in English.</p><p> Warren reflects that this type of singing is a distinctly American tradition. “There are only three indigenous American musical art forms. The other two, blues and jazz, come from the same roots and became popular around the turn of the last century. Scott Joplin, W.C. Handy, Jelly Roll Morton, and even the great Satchmo himself sang in barbershop quartets in their youth.”</p><p> Warren says there was a time when singing together was just what people did for entertainment. “Before recordings and radio, folks gathered in parlors and played the violin and piano and sang songs together. After recorded music became popular, people started to lose interest in making their own music. O.C. Cash wanted to preserve that tradition.”</p><p> Warren was a Concert Choir member during his student days, and he glows when speaking of former director, Chick Davis (Dec., ’52). He never lost his love for singing, and for over 40 years he has sung with church choirs, community choirs, and he even sang a bit with the Army while in basic training. But he was looking for a real challenge. And when he saw a bumper sticker that said SPEBSQSA, he asked a few questions and he’s never looked back.</p><p> He serves as a contest judge, is an officer at the district level, and will soon be competing at the International Barbershop convention in Nashville (July, 2016) – where the top 30 choruses and top 50 quartets in the world will be competing before a crowd of nearly 8,000.</p><p> Warren gives upwards of 50 hours a week to this hobby – work that includes the obvious practice time with his 2 choruses and 2 quartets, but also a lot of administrative time to make the organization run smoothly. He and fellow chorus members also do perform publicly to raise money, and they volunteer time to bring <em>a cappella</em>singing to local high schools and middle schools. “It’s not like other types of singing. Half the guys who do this can’t even read music; it’s ‘ear singing.’ You’ve got to know how to tune properly – listen closely – and harmonize. If you do it right, you can produce overtones that make 4 people sound like 5 or 6.” These are guys who just genuinely love to sing – and are likely to gather in random stairwells to belt out a tune together.</p><p> According to Warren and his wife, Andy, “Barbershop is a brotherhood of the kindest, most sweet-spirited, romantic, big-hearted men you’ll ever want to meet. If your car breaks down, you can call one of these guys and get not only a ride but also help with the repair, overnight lodging, and breakfast in the morning!”</p><p> And most likely, a song.</p><p> You can hear a bit of Warren’s group singing at this <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUAVELlpis">YouTube</a> link.</p></div><a href="/live/profiles/693-warren-fuson" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div>