Master Class with Sylvia McNair: College of the Arts students learn from a professional performer
By Lauren Highfill
(From left to right) Kayce Grogan-Wallace, Nick Morrett, Joshua Reiff, Sylvia McNair, Michael Alcorn, Michael Speer and Amy Hoelscher
On October 19, the day before her concert at Kennesaw State, celebrated singer Sylvia McNair held a master class for KSU students in the new performance hall at the Bailey Performance Center. Six students from both the Department of Music and the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies participated in the two-hour learning experience.
McNair’s class changed the perspectives of many of the students, including music education major Amy Hoelscher. Working with McNair, “we were able to see things from a professional perspective,” says Hoelscher. “She also had us do a few exercises to show the difference between what the audience hears and what we hear ourselves.” Hoelscher also says McNair “taught us that intonation and good diction make up 80 percent of what we do.”
Kayce Grogan-Wallace, a theatre and performance studies major, also gained valuable insights from McNair. “It was an awesome experience,” says Grogan-Wallace. “After we sang, she told us what was good and also gave us suggestions for things that could be fixed quickly as well as some long-term elements to work on.”
Nick Morrett, a musical theatre major, has participated in several master classes at KSU and found that McNair's class was unique in her use of the audience. "The members of the audience were asked to close their eyes and, as the performer sang, to raise their hand when they heard a word that they didn't understand," says Morrett. "I had never been to a class where the audience was asked to participated in that way, and I think it was really helpful for people."
In addition to KSU students appreciating the opportunity to work with McNair, McNair seemed to be impressed with the and students of KSU and complemented the level of preparedness and excellence of the students.
Other students who participated in the master class were Michael Alcorn, Michael Speer and Joshua Reiff.