Education as Inspiration: Music Grad Applies Lessons to Real Life

Oct 21, 2009 (University of Alberta, Edmonton) - Individualized instruction; advanced learning opportunities; passion and dedication: these are the reasons why alumna Becky Claborn chose to stud

21 October 2009

Oct 21, 2009 (University of Alberta, Edmonton) - Individualized instruction; advanced learning opportunities; passion and dedication: these are the reasons why alumna Becky Claborn chose to study music at the University of Alberta.

An undergrad of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire, Claborn applied to U of A as a masters student based on its small class sizes and teaching staff. Though one of three universities she applied to, Claborn said the music program at the U of A delivered exactly the skill set and experience she needed to begin a successful career in teaching and performance.
"I wasn't entirely sure what to expect," she admitted, "but it proved to be exactly the education I needed."

An applied music graduate in vocal performance, Claborn took advantage of every learning opportunity she could while she was in the program.
"The small class sizes allowed for personalized instruction - anytime I had a question, faced a problem or needed direction, my instructors were more than willing to help me learn," Claborn said.

Studying under the direction of Jolaine Kerley, Claborn was able to hone her expertise in and passion for early music and historical music practice.
"I grew up in a very musical house," Claborn explained. "And while my dad listens to just about everything, and was the first to start teaching me how to play music, it was my mom's love for classical that began my own passion for this genre. I remember sitting in front of the television when I was just eight years old watching entire opera recordings and singing along," she laughed.
But it was under the steady guide of her instructors that Claborn was able to turn her passion into reality.
"All of the instructors in the department are so dedicated to helping each and every student perform to the best of his or her ability," Claborn said. "So long as you're open to constructive criticism and are willing to work hard to hone your craft, the instructors will walk with you every step of the way."
In her final year of the program, Claborn was presented with the opportunity to study under Adjunct Professor Deen Larsen, founder and director of the Franz-Schubert-Institut and expert in poetry of the Lied.
"The Department of Music offers amazing opportunities to connect with other programs," she says. "Thanks to a partnership through the department, I spent the summer of 2008 studying at the Franz-Schubert Institut in Vienna, Austria." An experience, she explains, which was transformative. "I came back a completely different singer - the insight I gained from having the opportunity to intimately focus on one genre has influenced how I sing all types of music."
Claborn said there was a chance she'd not have had an opportunity like studying in Vienna had she chosen to study elsewhere. "The professors in the U of A Department of Music make it possible for students to connect with true professionals. I learned so much through the various masterclasses and lectures I had the privilege of attending during my time at the U of A. It's proven extremely useful in my career."

Now a private instructor with the Giovanni Yamaha School of Music teaching more than 20 students between the ages of nine and 24, Claborn also pursues an active performance career.
"I regularly perform with Pro Coro Canada, Alberta's professional choir, the U of A Madrigal Singers, Ensemble de la Rue and Ensemble Sospiri, which was formed out of a class I took while I was in school" Claborn reported.
"I also strive to continue my education," she said. "This past summer I studied with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir in Toronto, and this year I've been invited to take lessons with countertenor Daniel Taylor in Montreal."
With plans to apply for post graduate school in London, England, Claborn has big hopes of taking her career internationally. "I hope to perform with some of the early music groups in London as a way to further my experience as a performer even more."
Before she heads overseas, Claborn can be seen on stage with nearly 200 other performers on Thursday, November 5 at the Winspear Centre for the Arts as the U of A Department of Music and The Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies celebrate the 200th anniversary of Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn with a performance of Haydn's signature oratorio Die Schöpfung (The Creation). Claborn will make a second appearance with U of A performers on December 4 and 5 for the annual presentation of Handel's Messiah.
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