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!

Lee Students make NATS SemiFinals

Since COVID-19 has put a stop to most events, many vocal students were concerned that the National Association of Teachers of Singing’s yearly competition would not take place. However, through the use of virtual auditions, students were still able to compete. This year, we have two semifinalist coming from Lee University, Senior Libby Clark and Junior Rose Livingston. We had a chance to ask them a few questions about online auditions.

Q: How was your experience competing, particularly through Zoom? 

R: I was actually able to film videos of my repertoire and submit them through YouTube links.  I am so thankful that I was still able to compete despite the unusual circumstances!  My choir director from my home church accompanied me and my brother filmed the videos for me.  It was a great learning experience working with others on the spur of the moment to accomplish something in a short amount of time. I really couldn’t have done it without the help of others!

L: My experience competing through video had its pros and cons. I was able to relax more while I sang and take the time to prepare mentally for each piece, because it was not a live audition. I do feel, however, that a performance or experience can be cheapened when it is not experienced live and in person.

Q: How has this competition enhanced your learning experience? 

R: I’ve always wanted to try a competition but have never gotten the opportunity until now, so I jumped at the chance!  This competition was not only a fun goal toward which to work, it was also a rewarding learning experience.  It helped me to focus my attention on aspects of my performance that do not come naturally to me.  I concentrated on improving my interpretation of the music through my body language and motions.  I was also able to gain insight about my performance through comments the judges wrote; this is so helpful in learning and growing! 

L: This competition always enhances my learning because with each audition, you are given written feedback from adjudicators who have never heard you sing before! This is always really informative and useful because it is unbiased advice on how you can improve as an individual performer.

Q: How did Lee help you to be successful in this competition?

R: The most significant way that Lee has helped me to succeed is by creating a great environment of love and encouragement.  This encouragement comes not only from the faculty but also from students.  I am so grateful to those who have prepared me throughout the school of music by their instruction, guidance, and support, especially Mr. Deaton, Dr. Lee, and Ms. Wickes!  

L: Lee helped me greatly! My vocal coach and voice teacher were extremely supportive in the application process for the competition. Without them, I would not have had the time or resources to do well and succeed!

Congratulations to you both!