The transition to learning within a virtual atmosphere throughout the past year has posed unique challenges to all our students at WMU, especially to those accustomed to spending class time on stage, in concert halls or in practice rooms. Despite the barriers to in-person learning, students like Josh Vreeland have found that the support from professors and resources within the School of Music has helped alleviate the difficulties of pursuing his degree from home.
As a senior enrolled in his last semester as a vocal performance major, Josh feels confident that although he didn’t imagine finishing the majority of his studies virtually, he will be ready to take the guidance he gained at WMU into the next chapter of his life.
“I am now at the finish line of my academic career at Western and it is abundantly clear I made the right college decision. The support of the voice faculty throughout my journey here has been incredible. In particular, the support of the director of choral activities Dr. Kimberly Dunn Adams has been integral to the success of our department. Dr. Adams conducts over 100 students each semester and still manages to attain a personal relationship with every student. She has helped guide my academic choices and improve my musicianship skills as a singer.”
In addition to the training Josh received to help him improve his skills as a musician, he also credits Dr. Adams’ efforts to continue providing quality instruction amid a shifting educational landscape.
“I have been particularly impressed by her response to the pandemic. She has created and maintained a safe environment for choral singing during a period of time where such a notion almost seemed impossible. Even from a distance, I’ve been able to continuously develop my skills and gain more knowledge of my field. Her impact on me will be something I carry with me throughout the duration of my professional career.”
As his time at WMU comes to a close, Josh has also been reflecting on the journey that led him to become the musician he is today. Although Michigan is home to several prominent schools of music, he believes his undergraduate experience as a Bronco is unrivaled.
“Music has always been a major part of life and it was clear that I was going to pursue voice at the collegiate level. When looking at potential universities, my educators and peers at the time kept recommending WMU as an elite music school with ample performance opportunities for undergraduate musicians. After touring the campus and interacting with the faculty it was clear that Western was the best fit for me to succeed.”
Aside from using his talent to make an impression on campus, the support of donors and alumni allowed Josh to take advantage of musical opportunities at the international level.
“With funding from scholarships at WMU, I was able to travel abroad to study at the American Institute of Music in Graz, Austria in the summer of 2019. While there, I was able to hone my skills as an opera singer in a fully immersive professional experience. I had the chance to make new connections, learn from experts in my field, and perform at some of the oldest opera venues in the world. This opportunity would not have been possible without the help I received WMU’s support.”
Josh’s aspirations for his post-graduate path aren’t singular; he plans to use what he learned from WMU and apply it to a variety of different professional settings. After leaving campus, he hopes to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a professional opera singer by enrolling in a master’s program. As a graduate student, he will receive advanced training in operatic studies to improve his technique and master his musical craft. One day, Josh also aims to become a vocal performance teacher at both the high school and collegiate level. In this environment, he hopes to inspire passion for vocal performance in future generations in the same way that his faculty and colleagues in the School of Music did for him.
Josh’s story is emblematic of the Bronco experience. Students at Western use the support they’ve cultivated from faculty, staff, and donors to thrive and adapt to the current moment. Thanks to contributions from alumni and friends like you, WMU can ensure that students like Josh continue to succeed.