Alumni Spotlight February 2020

Our Alumni Spotlight of this month belongs to Sarah Nordin! Sarah graduated from Lee in 2005 and has since performed lead opera roles all over the country. We were able to connect with her and ask her a few questions about her time at Lee and after.

Q: What made you decide to come to Lee?

N: I was all set to go to Florida State and we went to visit it on our way to Missouri on a family vacation and I didn’t like it.  The school was too big and had too many distractions that had nothing to do with music.  It was the June before I was going to start school in the fall.  Lee University was not a school I had heard of but they had a billboard along highway on 75 so I decided to check it out.  Lee was so delightfully, small and seemed like a place I could focus practice in peace.  I was allowed to apply despite the late date because I spoke with admissions and told them my situation.  I got accepted right away to the school of music and as I was walking out of the building I started talking to Dr Holsinger.  Even though I planned to major in voice I am also a horn player and he has always been someone I admired.  After talking with him I decided then and there to come.  At the very least the music theory and composition classes would be both challenging and creative and that was important to me.  When I first arrived it was also Dr Holsinger who in my audition for the Wind Ensemble told me to join the opera workshop and suggested I go meet Tony Deaton.  Tony ended up being my voice teach and if it weren’t for him I would not be the professional opera singer I am today. I truly feel God sent me to Lee and helped me meet all the right people in a time when I was searching for the right path to take and a little lost.

Q: What did you learn from Lee that has stayed with you?

N: Lee is where I learned some basic skills that I still use now at my job everyday. Italian, French and German languages and the discipline of self-motivated daily practice. Most importantly, Lee University gave me the opportunity to perform my first 5 opera roles with orchestra. This was very valuable to me because when I left undergrad I already had 5 roles on my resume.  Many students have to pay for programs in the Summer to get that opportunity and I was able to spend my whole year working on my role with my teacher, Mr Deaton, and perform for the first time in a comfortable, loving and supportive environment.  Also while I was at Lee one of my professors, Dr Burns, cast me in a professional musical that he and his wife wrote.  This gave me the invaluable opportunity to learn how to creat a role with a composer and work in a professional environment along with a professor who was very patient and supportive.

Q: How have you used your education to get to where you are now?

N: I could not be the professional opera singer I am today with out my education.  When I began at Lee I had never sung in an opera before and I had only seen one.  Now I have performed at major opera companies all over the world including the Metropolitan Opera. 

Q: What advice would you give current Lee students?

N: Spend your time in prayer and thinking hard about what it is you want to do.  Then once you figure it out create a timeline and achievable goals to help you accomplish your dreams.  Lee has all of the resources you need to accomplish just about anything.  What you need is the ambition and self-motivation to take advantage of the resources you have access to.

We are so blessed to have Sarah Nordin as a Lee alum. We can’t wait to see what else you will accomplish!

To learn more about Sarah, visit her website below!

Guest Scholars Teach Education Workshop This Saturday

Join us tomorrow, the 22nd, for workshops sponsored by the Lee University division of National Association for Music Education. We will have two presenters discussing hymnody in multiple settings and also wind instrument repair. The workshops will be from 10-12pm and 1-3pm in the Choral Rehearsal Room. For members of CNAfME the workshop is free, and if you are not a member the workshop is only $5 for one or two people for $8. We can’t wait to see you there!

Orff-Schulwerk Level 2

Join us this summer for level 2 of Orff-Schulwerk! The program will cover the second level of certification and is recommended for all who want to advance into the next level of music education. The program starts June 15th and ends the 26th.

Orff Schulwerk is a unique approach to music education. Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman founded this child-centered approach that connects speech, movement, song, instruments, and listening, emphasizing creativity and active engagement by the children. Within these connections, the Orff approach addresses all aspects of a child’s musical development— performing, creating, listening, and analyzing—in ways that encourage the child’s joyful imagination and musical spirit.

To register, follow the link below. We’ll see you there!

Faculty Spotlight January

Our first faculty spotlight of this year is the well known Lee couple Dr. and Mrs. Sheeks. In Fall 2018, the Randy and Debbie Sheeks took over as directors of Ladies of Lee, and have even released a new album showcasing the choir’s growth. We had a chance to ask them a few questions about their time at Lee, and the impact the choir has made in the recent years.

Check out a small glimpse of their newest CD at the bottom of the page!

Q: How long have you both been at Lee?

D: We are in our 10th year of teaching at Lee.

Q: What is it like working together as a married couple?

R: It’s pretty wonderful to share so much of life together. However, you do have to be intentional to be sure you have a life outside of Lee. We enjoy our family, reading, movies, and a good trip to the beach. Then I am a huge North Carolina Basketball fan as well. (Don’t ask how I’m enjoying this season.)

D: Working together is wonderful!  We have been a team now for many years and it is our “normal” mode of life.  There are times of compromise and “give and take”, but for the most part, we manage that pretty well.  I think we both know we have certain strengths and try to use those in our work.

Q: The new Ladies of Lee album is finally out!  What are your favorite songs? 

D: Hiding Place, The Lord’s Prayer and Goodness of God.

R: We love them all for different reasons. The Ladies really did a great job recording these at the end of the fall semester. They recorded 8 songs in just two sessions and then we used recordings from previous semesters to round out the project. If I have to pick favorites, they would be The Lord’s Prayer, You Are My Hiding Place, The Goodness of God, and Psalm 23.

Q: What was the process like creating the album? Was it difficult to choose the songs? 

R: We really did not make song selection a difficult process. We chose songs that we were singing last semester and tried to choose things that represented some of the eclectic mix of songs in our repertoire. 

D: The Ladies of Lee made this process a real joy!  They came focused and prepared to work hard and give their best energy and vocal skills. 

Q: Why did you create the album? 

R: The number one motivation to record last semester was to provide an avenue for the Ladies to raise money for a European tour scheduled for May. We were able to record using funds raised last semester and allow the choir members to sell the CDs with 100% of the profit going toward their trip. This has been a nice way for the Ladies to raise money for the trip. Each choir member must raise $3500 so this was a great start. 

Q: What’s one goal for the Ladies of Lee this year of 2020?

R: In addition to emphasizing choral excellence and the Christian community within the group, the Europe trip is a huge goal. We will perform in 3 countries (Hungary, Czechnia, and Germany) and get to visit 5 (add France and Austria). We will sing in schools, churches, and a military base. One of the major stops on our trip will be Lee’s sister school, The European Theological Seminary in Kniebis, Germany. This is obviously a huge undertaking for the choir. The trip is scheduled for May 9-22. We believe it is a God-ordained opportunity to share the message of Christ through the unique and beautiful sounds of the Ladies of Lee. While it’s lot of work, it will be worth it!