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Alumni Profile: Katie Davis

UVMC’s board president Rosie Greenstein caught up with Katie Davis, a recent alum of UVMC, to hear more about her experience here and her musical endeavors. 

What and when did you study at UVMC? 
Katie studied voice at UVMC, starting with Singing for the Stage summer camp after fifth grade in 2015. That fall she enrolled in the semester program with Julie Ness and Jennifer Hansen and continued through eighth grade. Her growing interest in musical theater inspired her to take voice lessons with Julie, beginning in 2016 and continuing until her graduation from Hanover High School in 2022.
Katie also had a great time during those years participating in community theater groups. She was in Trumbull Hall from eighth grade through high school and was also on stage with NCCT, where her first show was The Secret Garden. She expressed deep appreciation for the ways Singing for the Stage and her work with Julie over the years encouraged and supported these “educational and fun” activities.

What is the role of music in your life now? How did your studies at UVMC influence and make possible these options?
Katie is now, in the Spring of 2023, completing her first year at Carleton College in Minnesota. Music remains an integral part of her life; it was non-negotiable for her that the college she selected have opportunities not only to sing, but also for voice lessons. At Carleton she is a member to two choirs and is about to begin voice lessons. Though she’s heard very good things about this teacher, she commented, with characteristic liveliness, “it’s crazy to be with someone not Julie!” While she doesn’t plan to major in music, she is currently taking “The Philosophy of Music,” and in this course, as at UVMC, is discovering new perspectives. Singing for the Stage and her lessons with Julie were transformative for Katie as a singer, through the abundance of detailed, personalized instruction. As she put it, “all of that made me the singer and performer I am now and got me into musical theater.” She also saw this as the “jumping off point” that led to her current musical interests and activities at Carleton.

What was your favorite “special moment” at UVMC?
“Julie is amazing, I really love her, she’s very sweet and very kind but really knows what she’s talking about; she has a great way of phrasing things, so that I understand exactly what to do. She has helped me grow for so many years and was particularly interested in helping me with the songs and genres I wanted, but also helping me to branch out.” In addition to taking her beyond pieces for musical theater, Katie’s original interest, Julie guided her through the exploration of her full voice range, from first soprano to alto.
Two experiences stood out for Katie, both occasions when Julie’s guidance took her to places where she hadn’t thought she could go. One occurred during a “Covid” Zoom lesson. While working through a classical piece, which Katie doesn’t see as her forte, a bit of instruction Julie provided enabled her to achieve a kind of resonance she hadn’t thought she could. As she put it, “it was a big ‘aha’ moment as I realized I could reach that space.” On another occasion, the achievement was developing more chest voice: “I never knew I could make that sound come out of me.”
Along with broadening her musical horizons through the study of pieces ranging from musical theater to opera, Katie found that her time with Julie and at UVMC surprised her by significantly developing her capacity to receive and implement feedback, especially in “master class” settings.

What advice would you give to a young student?
Katie encourages anyone interested in voice lessons to take advantage of studying with the wonderful teachers at UVMC. She advises trying many different things, because it’s essential for learning, widens your range of possibilities, and, importantly, is fun. Katie also emphasizes that master classes, while requiring courage, are really helpful; over time nervousness is reduced and you become much more comfortable.

What did I not ask that you’d like to tell me about?
Katie pointed out that the variety of performance opportunities at UVMC are especially valuable learning experiences that really help in building confidence. She saw UVMC as a gift to her over her school years, saying, as we concluded, “I cannot thank you all enough!”