Sarah Schulte, a 2018 music education major from the School of Music, is currently the Associate Director of Choirs at Blue Springs South High School. As part of this year’s programming, she included “The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre for her combined 9th-12th Soprano/Alto Choir to be submitted for the virtual Missouri Large Ensemble Contest. After watching Eric offer a keynote address at the virtual MMEA conference in January, she felt refreshed and inspired and decided to reach out to see if he might offer a clinic to her students on this piece. He said yes and she proceeded to handle the arrangements of a virtual clinic in March.
What was it like doing this project virtually?
SS: We’ve had composers clinic their pieces for us at BSSHS before, but never virtually. My colleague Jason Bean and I set up our Performing Arts Center (PAC) so that our students could be socially distanced and still sing for and interact with Eric while his face was up on the big screen and voice was projected over our sound system. We sang, talked, and finished our call with a Q&A where I ran around the PAC, bringing my laptop camera to different kids so that they could ask Eric questions face-to-face. It was definitely a unique master class, but since Eric is based out of LA, we may not have had this opportunity if not for Zoom! The students were thrilled with the experience and haven’t stopped talking about it.
Would you do a project like this again?
SS: I’d absolutely do a project like this again. I’d also encourage other educators to reach out to the composers of pieces their students are singing to see if they’d be willing to meet virtually. We all have the same mission: to keep our choral art alive during this time and to serve young musicians the best we can!
What is your favorite memory of MU?
SS: My favorite memories of MU took place on our University Singers international tours. I never thought I’d be able to meet people and sing abroad in places like China, Sweden, or Estonia, but I was afforded those opportunities through choirs at Mizzou. I treasure those memories and hope to return and sing soon.
Eric praised her students and her teaching on his social media the next day.
Sarah has recently accepted a new position as Director of Choirs at Park Hill South High School next Fall and is very excited for this new adventure. Congratulations to Sarah on the Whitacre clinic and the new job!