Senior Capstones: Recitals, Shows, and Performances

As students near the end of their college career, graduation isn’t the only goal to work toward. A capstone project marks the end of a persistent and arduous journey and allows students a chance to showcase what they’ve learned during their time in the program. Leading up to each recital, show, and performance, these students focused on practicing, preparing, scrutinizing, revising, and refining their craft for presentation.

There Rings a Melody

Shanda Waffle

Music students like Shanda Waffle (Sr., MI) spend much of their senior year working with instructors on songs that resonate with the student musician and stretch their abilities. As Shanda neared her piano recital, she recognized her own growth in memorization and being relaxed when playing. “My teacher (Dr. Gustavo Peterlevitz) and I had an extra one or two lessons each week this semester to spend more time fine-tuning my music—securing the memorization, adding extra musical expression, and practicing the duet that I played with my friend and roommate, Elizabeth Hoover.

“The most important thing I learned while preparing my senior recital is that your focus shouldn’t just be on having a ‘perfect’ performance,” Shanda explained. “While it is important to play the right notes and be technically correct in other aspects of the performance, no performance will ever be completely ‘perfect;’ the most important thing is communicating the emotions and stories in your music to the audience. Help them fall in love with your pieces the way you have!”

Thomas Molina-Morillo

Thomas Molina-Morillo (Sr., CA) chose to double-major in music education, studying both choral conducting and trombone. Practice for the recital began just before Thomas started his senior year. During senior fall semester, he and his instructor steadily worked through the fundamentals and technical aspects of the recital pieces. In the spring, he practiced through his recital program twice a day to build up endurance for the special performance. “My recital was an opportunity to showcase the work that the Lord has done in me over the last four years,” he said. “I can definitely say that the Lord carried me through the entire process, and it was incredible to see Him work in so many ways!”

“In the moment I finished my recital, the phrase that came to my mind was, ‘Only God.’ It was one of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever experienced!” Thomas continued. “It feels amazing to be done and there is a great sense of relief, but truthfully, I will miss the process of preparing for such a significant solo performance like this!”

From Page to the Stage

Sarah Drye

As a sophomore, speech and performance studies students are tested for their skill and ability in order to continue in the program. Even in the two years since her sophomore platform performance, Sarah Drye (Sr., NC) has seen tremendous personal growth. “I remember being terrified for my platform. I remember being so self-conscious and having such low confidence for that performance. However, with my recital, I felt nervous but excited to perform [Angel Street]. I felt so alive and engulfed in my characters. It was unreal, and it was an experience that is very hard to describe” she said. “The speech program pushes you and makes you grow. It challenges you mentally in ways that I never could have imagined, but it is fascinating to look back and see how much I have learned.”

Kelsey Venable

Like Sarah, Kelsey Venable (Sr., IN) is also studying speech, performing Alice in Wonderland for her recital. “Although I did not perform my recital until early March, Mrs. Webb pushed me to have my recital completely memorized by the end of Christmas break,” she said. “That is exactly what I did, and I am so thankful that she expected that from me. Since my recital was completely memorized by the beginning of this semester, I was able to focus on my pantomime, energy, and character distinction in the weeks leading up to my recital. I never had to stress about memorization.”

“My favorite part of the whole experience was definitely the performance,” Kelsey continued. “I loved every second that I was on stage. The audience responded so well, frequently laughing and smiling. Once, I heard my ten-year-old brother’s laugh echo out above everyone else’s. It was the best feeling in the world. Hearing his adorable little laugh reminded me of the reason that I chose Alice in Wonderland in the first place—to make people smile and laugh and to bring a child-like adventure to everyone in the audience.”

Making the Blank Beautiful

Josh De Ford

During senior year, graphic design and studio art students prepare their work for presentation during a Senior Art Show held each semester in the Visual and Performing Arts Building. Josh De Ford (Sr., AZ), a graphic design student with an invested interest in political design, began preparing for his Senior Art Show over the summer of 2020. Several of the pieces he included were from political campaigns he designed for in New York and Austin, Texas. “Over twenty of my closest friends and family flew into town for my show. It was so special to see everyone again and to share my work with them. It also gave me the opportunity to celebrate my mother’s birthday in a unique way as my show landed right on her special day,” he said. “As I anticipate graduation, I am so thankful for the teachers who have gone above and beyond by investing in their student’s academic and personal success. I would not be where I am without their advice and help.”

Rachel Wykle

For graphic design senior Rachel Wykle (TN), her art show’s inspiration was sparked by her experiences of traveling with her family. “Seeing different parts of the world has opened my eyes to so many more beautiful places that radiate God’s immaculate design. The world around me is what inspires my art, so I couldn’t choose any other theme except for travel,” she said. “My favorite piece I worked on was my ‘Adventure Awaits’ poster which is vector-illustrated with a vintage style. I wanted to challenge my vectoring skills to produce a scene with little detail that made sense visually.”

“The most difficult part was my grandmother passing away during my show-prep time,” Rachel explained. “This caused me to have to move my show date, but it gave me even more of a drive for excellence and success. She was one of my biggest supporters and I wanted to make her proud!”

Rebecca Lemoine

Studio art senior Rebecca Lemoine (Canada) themed her art show around people, featuring portraits and character designs in different mediums. “The piece that I am the proudest of would definitely be my family portrait. Previously, I had not yet made a portrait that I was truly happy with. After being taught the painting technique by Mr. Drushinin, I instantly fell in love with it,” she said. “At the art show itself, I was presented with a commission as well as two projects. These projects really caught me off guard, but they really encouraged me as well because I did not think my art would resonate with people the way that it did on the night of my art show.”

Spinning Words into Stories

Mary Legore

During senior year, professional writing students prepare, peer review, revise, and practice for a portfolio reading during either semester, where they read selections of their work before an audience. Mary Legore (Sr., PA) was nervous for her reading but found ways to confidently share her writing with the audience. “One thing that has always helped me with public speaking is drawing positive doodles in the margins of my papers, [so] I doodled little pictures that went along with my stories,” she said. “After practicing my pieces so many times, it was easy to find myself reading the pieces without emotion. During these times, I relied on the doodles in my margin to make me smile and add more emotion.”

Zach Jewell

For Zach Jewell’s (Sr., MI) portfolio, he aptly chose the theme “Drops of Ink,” taking inspiration from the first piece he featured. “[The piece] compares my life to being a drop of ink on God’s paper. He is the author of all of history, and each one of our lives plays a part in His grand story,” he explained. “My favorite part about studying writing has been being able to learn from teachers and classmates who want to see me improve. I always looked forward to getting feedback on one of my pieces because I knew my teachers and classmates would see something that I never would have. Through their tips and suggestions, I could revise my pieces and make them ten times better than they were before.”

Each capstone project and performance was a shared celebration of the time and effort spent toward earning a degree. With their time as students coming to a close, these soon-to-be-graduates will begin the next chapter of their lives. “When I finished my recital, I was satisfied knowing that I did my best,” said Kelsey Venable. “After months of practice, all of my hard work was recognized by my family, friends, and other audience members. It was truly amazing.”

Published4/20/2021

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