BWW Blog: Freshman Year at Temple University β Musical Theater
In August of 2019, I began my freshman year as a Musical Theater major in the School of
Theater, Film, and Media Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia. I had not pictured myself going to school in a city, however as soon as I visited, I fell in love! What makes Temple stand out is the people. It is a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff who all deeply care for one another and encourage those around them to do the best that they can. I arrived at school and immediately found a family with the 20 other students of the 2023 Musical Theater class. This year was a ton of hard work, but it was always reassuring knowing that we had each other.
Our days are packed with 18 credits almost every semester. Dance begins freshman year with ballet, where we are placed into one of two levels to best address our current skill set. Additional tap and jazz classes can be integrated where scheduling allows but become a staple in our course work beginning Sophomore year. We also have the opportunity to add a dance minor, through the Boyer College of Music and Dance, which several of my classmates and I have taken advantage of to incorporate additional dance classes into our schedule.
Acting classes take shape in the form of Acting I, Speech for the Actor, and
Fundamentals of Voice and Movement. Acting I incorporates the work of Uta Hagen into monologues and scenes, as well as acting exercises. (I also learned how to catch a bean bag really well in this class.) Speech for the Actor teaches speech techniques including the International Phonetic Alphabet, an alphabet made up of sounds rather than letters, useful for learning regional dialects (and forcing me to acknowledge which words I say with a New Jersey accent!). One of my favorite classes of freshman year, Fundamentals of Voice and Movement, has us reevaluate the ways we use our bodies and voices for storytelling.
Voice classes include private voice lessons, Voice I and II, Choral Ensemble, as well as
two music theory classes. Freshman have weekly, half hour voice lessons, which increase to hour-long lessons for the next three years. Beginning Sophomore year, we take a weekly studio class where perform and work on repertoire for all our voice teacher's other students. Voice I and II focus on exploration and performance of audition cuts for new repertoire. Each week focuses on a different category, some favorites include Golden Age, Pop-Rock, and Disney. We are a part of a choral ensemble for our first four semesters to build skills in sight singing as well as blending within a group and singing in different vocal styles. Freshman music theory classes build necessary skills that are expanded upon in Aural Theory during Sophomore year.
A unique class offering is Production Practicum, a weekly class that theater majors take
all 4 years of their study at Temple. All theater students, regardless of concentration, gather as we hear from various guest speakers (Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie and The Sopranos was a fan favorite this year) as well as talkbacks with the casts of mainstage shows during their runs. We produce at least 6 mainstage productions a year, allowing ample performance opportunity during our time at school. I was fortunate to participate in New Voices 2019, an annual play festival Temple produces in partnership with Philadelphia Young Playwrights, where short plays written by middle and high school students are performed by Temple students.
Another standout feature is the MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration where the next
generation of directors, composers, and playwrights work with students as they develop new works of musical theater. I had a blast workshopping one of the musicals written as a thesis project for this Masters program last semester, set to premiere at Temple in the Spring of 2021.
I am so incredibly lucky to have found a family at Temple University. My first year of
instruction was all that I hoped for and more (although I will admit I did not envision learning online for quite as much of it!). Temple is an amazing place to learn, grow and become the person that you want to be. Go Owls!
Learn more at @templemusicaltheatre and @templetheaters on Instagram and "Temple
Theaters" on Facebook!