Where will a music degree take my son?

by Dawn Stephens –

Music has always been an integral part of my son Daniel's life. Be it singing with one group or another, strumming his guitar to relax, or sitting at the piano composing, music is where he feels most comfortable and able to be himself. So it was no surprise when Daniel declared that he was pursuing a music major in college. To be honest, a scene of him standing on the street corner strumming his guitar with a tin can sitting in front of him did flash through my mind. Would he be able to support himself with a music degree? I was also worried if he could handle the pressure of majoring in music. I had heard horror stories from friends whose children were music majors at a large state university (near our home in Flower Mound, Texas) about all the pressures their children had on them and their inability to handle them. I had many long nights worrying about if Daniel could handle it or not.

I am glad to say that my worries were for naught. From the moment Daniel stepped on Trinity University's campus as a prospective student, his passion for music has been fed and encouraged. It hasn't been easy for him (I don't think there is one degree at Trinity that could be defined as "easy") but Daniel has been given so many opportunities to grow and develop that I know he is in the right place.

Trinity has so many opportunities for music majors. Daniel has sung with the Trinity Chamber Singers since he was a first-year student. They have performed in many venues in San Antonio, they were a featured choir at the annual Texas Music Educators Association convention in 2015, and last spring they toured from Seattle to San Diego. The range of music these talented young people perform is amazing. He is a founding member of "Overheard," a jazz acapella group that sings throughout campus. Daniel is the student assistant for the Trinity Hand Bell Choir. This past December, they performed with the San Antonio Symphony at their Christmas concert. Daniel has also been a part of the Trinity operas, and last summer he traveled with other Trinity students and professors to Beijing, China, to participate in a month-long opera workshop with students from across the United States, China, and Taiwan.

Majoring in music means practice, practice, practice!
While Daniel has loved performing, he would tell you that, as a choral music education major who hopes to one day direct a high school choir of his own, the opportunities in the classroom have been just as important to his development. Trinity has been named an All-Steinway school, allowing every piano student the opportunity to practice and perform on the best instrument in the world. His weekly private voice and piano lessons are led by professors who challenge and encourage him. The small sizes of his music and education classes have allowed him to develop deep relationships with his professors who challenge him to go outside his comfort zone and to do his best. With a broad curriculum, Trinity requires students to not only focus on their area of interest, but to take classes from all of the academic areas to be a well rounded person. These classes have forced him out of his comfort zone to explore and learn new things. He has learned to question and investigate many interesting subjects.

Trinity has also allowed Daniel to explore outside the classroom and the music department. Among the many events in which he has participated, he has enjoyed Bible studies, the weekly chapel services, and has recently become involved in fencing, which let him meet friends who enjoy this unique activity as much as he does.

Daniel has matured during his time at Trinity as both a musician and a person. Each new experience inside and outside the classroom expands his world. That "tin can" scene does pop up in my head from time to time, but I am confident that when Daniel completes a five-year program in which he will receive both a Bachelor's of Music and a Master of Arts in Teaching, he will be ready to support himself and make a positive contribution to the world with his music.

Trinity music student Daniel Stephens with his mom, Dawn Stephens.

About Dawn

Dawn Stephens has been married 27 years to her husband, Millard. A native Texan, Dawn is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has lived in Flower Mound, Texas, for 25 years, where she is a substitute teacher and active in her church. When she is not attending one of her son Daniel’s many performances, she likes to travel and read.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to you on having such a fine son and to Daniel on this accomplishment. I, too studied music at Trinity with a piano concentration. The experience was filled with growth, challenge, plenty of mistakes and life enriching moments. My piano teacher, Andrew Mihalso was one of the most sincere, encouraging men I have ever known. I wasn't fully mature enough for college right out of high school so finished my degree years later at UTSA. I also received a degree in communications at James Madison University but no school has stayed in my memory and heart as Trinity has. Living near the campus, the red brick buildings remind me often of my time there. For years my photography graced the Trinity Magazine cover and features inside (yes, my second love and career. I also teach piano in my home). It is with pleasure that I read of your son's many interests nurtured by caring faculty. It seems like yesterday that I walked into my dorm room as a nervous freshman, wondering what college would be like. Three weeks ago, Dorothy Dowling, my roommate from that first year came to visit me, laughing over old times and wishing we lived closer to one another. We came to Trinity in 1965. We were the class of '69. Daniel is part of a long legacy of friendship building, character strengthening and eye-opening education. I wish him the best of luck when he heads out into the 'real' world. Trinity will always welcome him back to share his stories and adventures. Good luck, Daniel! Susan Masinter Riley