American Idol winner Ruben Studdard will teach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

Next month, American Idol season two winner Ruben Studdard will give a masterclass for performing arts majors at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).

The course, which will take place March 7 and 28, will include first-hand experience from Studdard on how to prepare for the music industry while attending UTC.

“I’m extremely excited,” Studdard said in an interview with Diverse. “I never thought it would be something I would do, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.”Ruben Studard

The Grammy-nominated artist will work with UTC’s Singing Mocs, a contemporary singing group specializing in pop, acapella and vocal jazz.

“The main goal is to give music students the opportunity to talk to someone who’s actually in the music business,” Studdard said, “something I wish I had when I was at school. I want to talk to them about how to protect your voice, talk to them about making sure that knowing their stuff is important. In this profession, young people are not as prepared as they were years ago.

“This is an emergent process,” said Stuart Benkert, head of UTC’s performing arts department. “We want diversity. We want inclusivity and we need it to grow exponentially, hopefully on many levels. Ruben is an excellent musician and has a wealth of experience that not all talented musicians bring the same talent to the table.

The opportunity for Studdard to teach this course came when UTC Vice-Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement, Stacy Lightfoot, asked Studdard to sing the national anthem at a soccer game. at home last year. A friendship with the singer blossomed when she was executive director of his Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Musical Arts, which ran music summer camps for middle and high school students in her hometown of Birmingham. , To the.

“When I started my foundation,” Studdard added, “she became the first director and she put our foundation on a good footing.”

After the match, Studdard had dinner with UTC administrators, including Benkert, and they began discussing how music education could be improved to better prepare students for a successful career.

“We started a conversation about how to educate students who are good players, but don’t read music,” Benkert said. “They bar the door to those who have talent and who have no experience, and Ruben hadn’t thought of it that way.”

At this meeting, Studdard went further and told him that the university does not teach musicians contracts or even multiple singing styles.

Benkert recalls, “I looked at him and said, ‘You’re right.’ Why don’t you come and teach for me? He thought I was joking and he said, ‘Are you serious?’ and I said yes, why don’t you come here to teach?

For Studdard, teaching is part of the “family business” of which he was not a part. His mother, Emily, teaches at Birmingham Public School System and his father, Kevin, is a former bodywork technology teacher.

“My Aunt Pauline taught public schools in Atlanta for 30 years and the man whose name I bear, Uncle Ruben, was a professor at Central State University.”

Benkert has spent the past five years trying to figure out how his department could be a more inclusive environment for those who lack professional training.

“When I came back to [teach] performing arts, we decided that we weren’t just going to redesign the courses we have, we were actually going to redesign the curriculum, he said, adding that social media platforms like YouTube and Tik Tok show singers and musicians with raw talent but lack formal training.

“We redesigned the way we make music at UTC and the redesign was to allow people to come with any level of understanding of music and for us to find a way to teach them,” said he declared. “If they have a harmonica – fine – bring the harmonica. You play bass guitar – fine. We’re not going to make you play bass in an orchestra. If you’re making music on an iPad , certainly.Our job is to train people.

Just like in other fields, the music industry requires people to have several skills that normally don’t go together. Some institutions offer music degrees with a minor in business.

Benkert says his program at UTC also plans to offer these skills.

“We’re looking at doing some type of engineering programming, because a lot of the instruments we play currently use encoding software and who’s to say someone who has the modern musician will need coding skills? In fact, I saw a job posting where they were looking for a musician who needed to know SQL, it’s a programming language.

“You don’t want to reject someone because you don’t know how to deal with the software they have to play. You have to know how to do everything,” he said.

Studdard agrees.

“There are a lot of things that as a young person you can get away with vocally that you can’t get away with at 30,” he said. “Once I realized that was the root cause of why I had to go to the otolaryngologist so much, I changed it.”

Having a masterclass like the one he is supposed to teach would have been useful for a young Studdard when he was a student.

“If I was at Alabama A&M University and I was Ruben, the sophomore, who had recorded demos and if Ruben, the senior artist, showed up on my campus, I would be so excited to ask him questions about his experience and what I should do. That’s why I’m doing this,” he said.

Benkert said Studdard brings a wealth of experience to the classroom.

“He’s got it all. It’s the real deal,” Benkert said.

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