For this month’s Student Spotlight, Emma W. takes the stage—something that she is quite familiar with doing. Between singing with a choir and acting as the lead in musical theater productions, Emma has had a fantastic time singing and performing for people. Find out what inspires this versatile vocalist to share her love of music, and learn what advice she has for aspiring singers and musical theater performers alike.
MM: How did you get started with music? How long have you been singing?
EW: I hadn’t done any real singing at all until 7th grade when I was cast as Belle in my school’s production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. Of course, initially having no training was making playing the role a bit difficult. That was when we found Molly and the rest is history. I’ve been singing ever since!
MM: What inspires you as a musician? Who inspires you?
EW: It sounds super corny, but really it’s my friends and my emotions that inspire me. I simply can’t sing or play a song without some real feeling behind it. I sing with my friends almost every day, and through that we inspire each other.
MM: You’ve been the lead in some musicals, what was that like?
EW: It’s really a fantastic feeling! I always want to feel like I’m contributing a lot to whatever show I’m in, and leads require a lot of work. Of course, it’s just as satisfying to add to the ensemble or work behind the scenes!
MM: What are your favorite musicals? What are your favorite songs to sing?
EW: A few of my favorite musicals are Next to Normal, Once, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, and Into the Woods. My favorite songs to sing are any of the songs from Beauty and the Beast, any of the duets in Next to Normal, and “Gold” from Once.
MM: In terms of music, what have you been involved in recently? Any performances?
EW: This year at Mater Dei High School, I’m a member of the Chamber Singers. We’ve been performing at festivals and small events many times so far this year, along with our Fall Concert and annual giant Christmas celebration, Madrigal Feast. I was also in the ensemble for Mater Dei’s production of All Shook Up.
MM: I hear you have a versatile voice. Which styles of singing are your favorite? Which styles do you find the most challenging?
EW: My favorite styles of singing are radically different—either it’s brassy belting or it’s a more reserved singer/songwriter feel. The most challenging style for me is probably classical operatic, especially in the higher register. Since I’m a low alto in my choir, I’ve somewhat lost the strength of my soprano range.
MM: What advice do you have for students who are new to music? What about students who want to try musical theater?
EW: This sounds cheesy, but—never give up. At first, all that sheet music and breathing exercises and all that talk about stuff called the “diaphragm” and the “soft palate” is challenging, but it will start to make sense and you’ll begin to really enjoy it. That’s the only reason anyone makes music, right? It’s all about having fun while improving yourself. For musical theatre, it’s important to remember that every single member of the cast and crew is vital to the show. Even if you’re “just” ensemble, ensembles are a ton of fun to be in and they help set the entire tone of a show. Also, never be afraid to audition for anything. Even if you think you won’t get the part or be good enough, just go for it. Audition experience is so helpful, plus you never know what role might come your way!