On Friday, Nov. 11, Drew students were treated to an exclusive music masterclass experience with acclaimed professor of music Dr. Don Simonson. The event was sponsored by the Drew Music Department. Vocal students taking MUS 325 (Advanced Vocal Instruction) had the option to sign up for ten-minute slots, during which they would perform a piece and Dr. Simonson would offer personalized feedback on the spot. The masterclass enabled all Drew students to observe how a vocal lesson is conducted. It was also an opportunity for vocal students to develop new skills with a new professor while observing their peers.
Dr. Simonson recently retired from his position as the head of Iowa State University Music and Theatre Department. He earned his degree in music from Northwestern University and studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria. While he was abroad, Dr. Simonson studied under acclaimed European opera singers and even performed leading roles in operas. He has traveled the world performing and teaching music. It was a great experience for Drew students to get the chance to learn from such an esteemed performer.
During the masterclass, Drew students performed a wide variety of music that ranged from classical romantic-era pieces to modern Broadway. Each performance was beautifully execute and won compliments from Dr. Simonson. The most impressive part of the masterclass was Dr. Simonson’s ability to offer personalized advice for each student on the spot. He demonstrated his extensive background in music by finding the best in each student, giving them detailed feedback after hearing just one song. He also told many stories throughout the day, which helped connect him with the students. While his storytelling caused the event to go thirty minutes over the scheduled time, it helped create a welcoming environment.
When asked about her opinion of the masterclass, Avelyn Simons (‘23) said, “I thought that the masterclass was a great opportunity for students to learn from their peers and from [Dr.] Simonson. His expertise and experience was astounding.” Overall, the masterclass was a very educational event and a great experience with such an acclaimed performer.
For those interested in getting involved with the musical scene on campus, personal vocal and instrumental lessons are offered at the beginner and advanced levels here at Drew University. They are a great opportunity to either start or continue music lessons for whatever instrument you play. If you have any questions about the Music Department at Drew, you can email Dr. Trevor Weston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amelia Tirey is a sophomore majoring in history and minoring in political science and music.
Featured image courtesy of Dee Cohen.