Student Spotlight May 2020

We have some exciting news!

Lauren Mills, a junior music education student, has been selected as a state representative for TMEA! To fully understand this honor, we asked Lauren to explain it herself.

“From June 23-25 (Lord willing), I’ll be traveling to DC with three other collegiate representatives from the Tennessee Music Education Association to attend the 2020 NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit “Hill Day”. During this event, we will receive advocacy and leadership training that will be put to use on the last day when we meet with the Senators and Congressmen of Tennessee advocating for music funding and support on a legislative level.”

But that isn’t all!

Lauren was also selected as this year’s Presser Scholar for the School of Music. The Presser Scholar is awarded to a music major entering their senior year, recognizing them for their dedication and excellence in the field of music.

Both of these are huge honors, and we are so proud of you Lauren! Thank you for showing excellence in the School of Music!

Alumni Spotlight May 2020

This month’s alumni spotlight goes to Dr. Ryan Fisher, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Memphis. As busy as his life is, he put aside some time for some questions!

Q: What is it like to be an associate dean?

R: It is a tremendous honor to serve as associate dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at the University of Memphis. I have gained so much knowledge and respect for the various disciplines represented in our college – architecture, art, communication and film, journalism and strategic media, theatre and dance, and my home unit, the School of Music. With over 1800 students and 150 faculty and staff, our college is extremely diverse and plays an important role on our campus and in the broader Memphis community. Our faculty represents some of the brightest and most talented scholars and artists in the profession, and our students and alumni are positively impacting their communities and achieving great things. It is exciting to have my finger on the pulse of all that is happening in the college and university and a tremendous privilege to know my thoughts and efforts are influencing policy and practices that directly impact our students, faculty, and staff.

Q: How did Lee help you get to where you are now?

R: First, Lee established the foundation of my knowledge and skills in the field of music and, more specifically, music education. Is it at Lee where my passion for impacting the world through music was ignited. My professors at Lee provided the tools I needed to become an artist and advocate for the importance of the arts in education and society. That passion continues to drive my efforts in advocating for the importance of the arts as an essential component of our university’s diverse offerings, and promoting the power and influence of the arts to positively impact and change a community. Memphis is known as a music city, but many may not know that our cultural industries have been central to the development of numerous arts districts throughout the city that are thriving with independent restaurants, small businesses, and arts organizations.

Q: How has music education shaped your life?

R: Music education has allowed me to see the beauty and diversity of the world. My countless hours of individual practice, ensemble rehearsals, and academic music study have enhanced my character and leadership skills. Because of my musical training, I have developed the skills to plan and execute large-scale events and create complex policies that consider potential impacts on programs and groups of people. I also have the self-discipline and perserverence needed to complete difficult tasks. The creative components of music-making have also influenced by ability to dream and vision for the various organizations I have been fortunate to serve.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at Lee University?

R: While I was at Lee, I had the privilege of being in the Lee Singers, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble (as a founding member), and Pi Kappa Pi. I made such incredible memories in all of these organizations and established life-long relationships with men and women who are now impacting the world and achieving great things in their respective disciplines. I was gifted to study with fine teachers and musicians who patiently mentored me and provided me wonderful opportunities to develop my craft while molding my character. My fondest memories from Lee come from the numerous tours and performances the Lee Singers executed across the United States, as well as China and the UK. As a country boy from a small town in northeast Texas, I would have never imagined the places I would visit or the diverse people I would encounter during my time in Singers. Those opportunities shaped the man I am today and opened my eyes to see the world in a different way. Because of those life-changing experiences, I learned to be more tolerant of people who do not look like me or share my same experiences AND to love “the least of these”.

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Ryan Austin Fisher

Faculty Spotlight April 2020

Dr. Ron Brendel has been on sabbatical this semester, and was excited to talk to us about it and some other big news!

Q: How has sabbatical been for you?

R: It has been a welcomed change of pace…I think I’ve been at this higher ed thing for 36 years, so it was good to take time away for a project, and just a sort of mind-clearning break. The whole paradigm shift with the global health issue caused some unforeseen challenges, but I have managed to do some of what I intended back in January.

Q: You were just accepted the position of Director of Graduate Studies in Music! What are you looking forward to the most?

R: This is a position I did not really go seeking, but have been thinking about administrative work for a few years, so when it was presented, after a few days of thought and prayer, I accepted. In a way, I’m looking forward to learning something new about the inside workings of the academy, and more specifically, to trying to facilitate some tightening up of degree programs, and doing some degree assessment. The bottom line, though, is to try to always have the student as the main motivation in any decisions or changes that may be made.

Q: Have you come up with the title for the book you’re writing during your sabbatical?

R: It changed a little from my proposal to when I actually submitted the idea to the publisher, but at the moment it is “Singing Britten: Suggestions for Tenors”

Q: What is one thing you would tell seniors graduating this May?

R: Without question, this is the hardest question to answer….and if I only get one “thing to tell seniors” it would be to stay grounded in the Truth of Jesus Christ. My life verse is Philippians 4:8-9. If your mind is firmly on Christ, everything else is secondary. Everything.

We can’t wait to see you back at Lee in your new role!