Graduate School

International Experience Makes DMA Alum Competitive

by lehrkeat


SUMMARY: With dreams of conducting opera in an academic position, David says that for a classical musician, the ability to perform and teach in Europe maximized his professional experiences.

David Hill

International Experience Makes DMA Alum Competitive

You need exceptional experiences to be an outstanding candidate when you seek post-graduation opportunities, according to Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) graduate David Hill. For David, his exceptional experiences included three summer study abroad opportunities in Freilberg, Germany. Freiberg is a town with a medieval city center, Freiberg Technical University, and the Mid-Saxony Opera Theater, a center for education and musical artistry. David participated in the JMU short-term study abroad experience titled “Opera, Lieder, Language and Culture of Germany: Summer Music Program for Singers, Pianists, and Conductors” taught by several faculty including Dr. Dorothy Maddison from JMU.

With dreams of conducting opera in an academic position, David says that for a classical musician, the ability to perform and teach in Europe maximized his professional experiences. The financial support he received from The Graduate School helped enable him to be part of the 6-week summer experience he described as a “packed program.” During the six weeks, he served as a staff accompanist, conducted a double bill with six performances, participated in two Lieder concerts plus five recitals in various venues with the group from the United States. He also provided piano accompaniment for operetta rehearsals as part of the main show in the opera house.

David’s wife, Leah Hill (2012), an alumnus of the JMU Master of Music program, assisted the group as a staff member. In addition to stepping into a leading role to cover for another singer who became ill, Leah sang a solo during the final arias concert.

This and other study-abroad opportunities are available to provide professional development and diverse experiences for JMU graduate students. The Graduate School is committed to supporting students like David and his wife as they broaden their skills and expertise to reach their goals.

As Dr. Dorothy Maddison says, "It has been a joy to coordinate this program with the Graduate Office, the School of Music, and the Office of International Programs here at JMU. David and Leah represent some of the best advanced students that are now being drawn to our university to further their knowledge, musical skills and life experiences. The communities that work with us both in the USA and Germany have also been enriched by the Hill's participation, and the long-term friendships and networks that they have helped us to build are an integral part of JMU's international mission in the world."

In addition to preparing David with unique professional experiences, his time abroad sparked a genuine love of the culture and people of Freilberg region of Germany. After graduation, David and Leah Hill accepted full-time faculty positions at Pensacola Christian College. Moving into a music faculty role marked the beginning of a new season and the accomplishment of an important graduate school goal. David feels that the professional development experiences offered at JMU, and through the Freiberg summer program, equipped them for their new careers.

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