Becoming a Master: The Start of a Journey for Adrianna Jones ‘22
By Caitlin Preuss ’23
Masters students in the Music Theatre Vocal Pedagogy program have one crazy year ahead of them. It’s a year of learning, teaching, growing, and performing. On Monday, October 4, 2021, all of the current graduates had the opportunity to perform an initial presentation: a song that showcases their artistry. The “Meet the Masters” concert is a yearly tradition in the program here at Carthage, and each year undergraduates such as myself are eager to hear people like Adrianna Jones ’22 perform at the concert.
Adrianna got her BFA in Music Theatre from Webster University in 2014, and since then she worked for 3.5 years in Los Angeles. She booked her first cruise line gig on Norwegian Cruise Lines and performed on the ship in Footloose. At the start of the pandemic, Adrianna was sent home at the beginning of her second contract with the ship. With the performing arts industry on a lull, it’s the perfect time to go back to school, which is something Adrianna always wanted to do. She found Carthage, and the rest is history!
I sat down with Adrianna to talk about “Meet the Masters,” how the program is going so far, and to hear about what’s next for her after this year of learning.
Why did you choose the Masters in Music Theatre Vocal Pedagogy at Carthage?
My experience had been all performing up until this point, so I thought about what kind of degree I could get that uses my skills. Whenever I was working on the ship, I worked as the vocal captain. I was helping people with their understudy roles, answering questions, and helping the cast learn parts. I really love doing that - so vocal pedagogy is something that would allow me to do more music teaching. It seemed like the perfect fit. This is one of the few programs of its kind, there’s only a handful. I started the audition process and was lucky enough to be accepted to Carthage, so that was pretty much my road to here.
It’s been a couple of days since “Meet the Masters”, how do you feel like it went?
I feel like it went well! Luckily we had awesome people working on the sound team - Liz Weiland ’21, Emily Carr ’23, and Dimitri Shapovalov - and they last minute set up an entirely new sound system because the current one wasn’t working. They were amazing and got it all done by the time we had the concert that night. It was a great performance, and it was really fun. Everybody got up and was able to sing one song. I performed first, I love that, because I like to perform either first or last. I sang “Come See About Me” by The Supremes. I love the pop/rock genre. The thing with pop/rock songs, especially in the context of musical theatre is that we’re taught to have a point of view. You’re not just up there singing a catchy song, you’re a character with a backstory. I was happy with my performance, I feel like I told a good story.
How much rehearsal time went into “Meet the Masters”?
A lot of it happens behind the scenes. We had the tech part of it with a sound check earlier in the day. Part of my job on campus as a graduate assistant was to help out a lot with this event in general. I helped out with a sound check without the performers so we could figure out how the sound would work. You’ve got to have those tech rehearsals beforehand to try and figure out what problems you may run up against. For each performer, we’re rehearsing the choices. You have to make choices, you can’t just go up there and wing it. For me, I like to know exactly what I’m doing before I go on stage so I’m not caught like a deer in headlights. Personally, in order to find different colors, I like to associate a word with a certain section of the song. You can make it even more specific than that, but it’s a good place to start.
We’re a little over a month into the academic year: what has been a highlight of the program so far?
A big highlight has been just breaking down exactly what the vocal mechanism is doing. Specifically in our vocal pedagogy class, we talk about this. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff in just the four weeks we’ve been here. It can be hard to keep it all straight, but when you know exactly how the vocal mechanism is working, it connects to what you do when you’re performing. At least it has for me. In addition to the coaching that we have once a week, we also have two voice lessons a week with two different instructors. I find that every time I go into a lesson, I’ve learned something new in class that I can bring.
What are you looking forward to as the year progresses?
I’m excited to get to the point where I feel like I’ve mastered the things we’re learning! It is a masters degree, so I’m looking forward to being the master. I’m also excited for the process of getting there, the discoveries I’ll make about my own instrument, and about the kind of teacher I want to be. The way I want to teach might be different than someone else. What I bring to a student is going to be different than someone with a different backstory. I’m already thinking ahead about the kind of students I want to work with. I’m trying to gear the information I’m learning towards that group.
After you’ve become the Master, what will be next for you?
I was performing when I started this, and I’m hoping to go back to performing when I finish it. I feel like I still have a few good years in me of going out there and doing it! What that looks like: I’m not sure. When I performed on the ship, I gave up my apartment and sold my car because, well, I was working on a ship. When I got furloughed, I had to go home to my hometown. Now I can essentially move anywhere after this. It’s exciting, but a little bit nerve-wracking. I’ve talked to some of my teachers about potential places I’m thinking of going to, and already they have connections, which is amazing. In any field networking is important, but especially in the arts, it’s about who you know.
What piece of advice would you give to an undergraduate currently studying Music Theatre?
Be open. Be open to different opportunities, even if they are not necessarily related to the field. It’s all part of the journey. It’s not compromising if you have to delay the plan, or change the plan. The plan is going to change. You have to be open to change. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that plans change and you have to be flexible. All of that is going to make your story more exciting in the end.