The Well Rounded Singer: An Honors Thesis Recital

Open Access
Hendler, Kelsey Anne
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Fenner Spivey Iii, Thesis Supervisor
  • Linda Carol Porter Thornton, Honors Advisor
  • voice
  • vocal pedagogy
  • music
  • music education
  • pop music
  • a cappella
  • musical theatre
  • recital
  • singing
Penn State’s music education curriculum prepares an undergraduate student to teach music to students in grades K-12 in diverse school settings. This mission implies that each graduate will emerge a well-rounded music educator. Such a comprehensive program runs the risk of developing “a jack of all trades but master at none.” To combat this issue, the curriculum requires students to focus on a specific discipline while learning the remainder of the curriculum. Disciplines include band or orchestral instruments, voice and piano. One issue still remains: academic requirements within each discipline are narrowly focused in Western Art Music. This creates a musician who may not be well-rounded. Being a “master of one” is a problem because there is a variety of music of equal relevance and importance for music educators to learn and pass on to their students. Take the discipline of voice, for example. In her junior year, a music education student studying voice must prepare six pieces for her bi-annual jury (a jury is a performance in which the student is graded by all of the voice faculty members). Generally, the majority of the pieces are supposed to be music of the classical variety. Of course, there is variety in the time period, language, and style of the songs; however, most art songs and arias reside under the Western Art Music umbrella. As much as I enjoy singing the music of Mozart and Schubert, and as much as I see the educational benefit of singing Italian arias and German lieder, there are so many varieties of music out there to be sung. Limiting a student in the choice of repertoire constrains the singer from developing into a well-rounded musician because every singing genre is different in purpose and performance practice. This honors thesis tells my journey of studying singing in the genres of solo classical, solo musical-theatre, choral and a cappella at Penn State. I will analyze the historical background, technique, presentation and function of each singing genre and apply my analysis in the form of a recital.