20 Aug Music: A Universal Truth
Mentor Scott Purcell has pursued a wonderful singing and teaching career. However his first mentors weren’t singers, but conductors. Read on to see how he was inspired as a young child to pursue a career in music and how he is sharing that inspiration with the next generation of ArtSmart students.
I’ve always loved music. My Mom likes to tell me the story of when I was 5 and would watch Disney’s “Fantasia” and conduct to each and every song. Funny enough, I remember that. Even funnier, I remember memorizing the patterns of Leopold Stokowski, the conductor in the first piece: Toccata and Fugue by Bach. Maestro Stokowski would gesture to the left and right for each side of the orchestra toward the end of the piece, and a wave of colors would rise with his gesture. I would stand in front of the TV and copy his gestures, prompted by the colors. Another favorite maestro of mine was Leonard Bernstein (pictured above) who was not only a fantastic conductor, but a dedicated music educator. What’s even more amazing about this memory: I was only 5 years old.
Perhaps my most treasured memory, and most important moment in my musical life, was the moment I decided to become a professional musician. I was 16 years old, and had just gotten accepted into a very selective summer program at Westminster Choir College called the Vocal Institute. This program was a summer choir program with emphasis on musicianship, teamwork, and the highest level of singing possible. While there, I got accepted into the audition-only chamber choir. This choir was composed of only the strongest, most dedicated singers in the program. Being in this choir gave me a taste of what it was like to be a professional musician. We were held to the highest standard, by the most passionate conductor I had ever met. The experience of being in that choir made my decision for me. From that time on, I knew I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to recreate that feeling of passion, dedication, and pure joy that I experienced in that choir, and I certainly have done that many times throughout my career so far.
My relationship with my first teacher also had a huge impact on my musical and singing life. I was very lucky, because he was an accomplished opera singer. He sang in virtually every opera house (and Broadway!) in the world. Those years with him were when I learned the most important lessons about singing, and life. He taught me respect, passion, discipline, and gave me the most solid of vocal foundations. He gave me the tools to succeed as a singer at a very early age.
When I heard about ArtSmart, it made me think of those years with my teacher, and how, since then, I’ve wanted to instill those same lessons into my own students. Singing is my life, my passion, and my reason for existing. That’s why I’m here at ArtSmart: I believe that these lessons transcend singing. They help to instill qualities that students can take with them to any profession, any facet of their life. I hope to teach them everything I’ve learned, and I can’t wait to see where they go after this program.