Since high school, Lisa Driscoll knew that she wanted to tell stories through words both sung and written. With majors in music and journalism, Lisa is among the 40% of School of Music students who pursue additional degree tracks. During her two years at UMD, Lisa has combined her knowledge of music with her strong writing skills. Her article about the School of Music’s 2012 festival, “The Art of Argento”, was featured in Classical Singer, one of the most widely-read trade publications in the opera world. She frequently contributes to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s blog, and recently began writing reviews of classical music concerts for DC Metro Theater Arts.
Cara Fleck: How did you learn about University of Maryland?
Lisa Driscoll: When I was applying to colleges, my voice teacher at the time immediately recommended Maryland because of its strong programs in music and journalism. When looking at what the School of Music and School of Journalism had to offer, all of the pieces seemed to fall in place.
CF: What initially attracted you to the School of Music?
LD: I just felt welcomed; I think that was the number one thing. My audition at Maryland was my first audition for college, so I was especially nervous. After I sang, the voice faculty completely put me at ease during my interview with them. It was at that time that I was drawn to Professor Ziegler, who is currently my voice teacher. I felt so comfortable; I think the interview was my favorite part of the audition. It’s two years later and I still feel at home at UMD. Everyone is so open and eager to know you. Music is an incredible gateway to talk about all that’s wonderful in life, and I’ve had many memorable conversations with my classmates both in and outside the classroom. It’s been a beautiful experience.
The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is also an outstanding facility. This immediately stood out to me when I auditioned. I knew I’d appreciate a nice setting since I’d spend a lot of time here practicing, studying and performing.
CF: Why did you choose to double major in music and journalism?
LD: I knew that I wanted to tell a story, and that music and journalism were the two avenues through which I could express not only myself, but the stories of others. I've always loved to write, and got into journalism in high school. Music was a huge part of our lives at home; we always sang. I couldn’t image not singing.
I am so thankful that I can make music. I've learned a lot about myself – more than what I think I would have learned if I'd only studied journalism. Aside from that, making music is super humbling. The School of Music is a place where everyone is striving to perform at the highest level possible. It’s incredibly motivating.
CF: What are some of the challenges of double majoring?
LD: Time is the first obstacle. It can be difficult to find enough time to practice and do music history or theory homework. Music theory, in particular, does not come naturally to me, so I take extra time to study and do homework.
Journalism is also time-consuming. We write stories, make videos and do research. Like music, a lot of what’s required must be done on our own outside of class.
The second challenge is to continually maintain high expectations for yourself. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by everything on your to-do list, and consequently tackle your work without thinking everything through. I constantly ask myself how I can do my absolute best and finish my assignments on time.
CF: How do you balance all of your coursework?
LD: I think the main thing I’ve learned – and am still learning – is the value of supportive relationships. I’ve found it’s essential to being a healthy person. When my relationships are solid, I thrive. When I’m not giving my best in my relationships, I realize I'm not giving in my classes, either. I would have never guessed these two things would correlate, but since everything I do as a musician and writer involve communication, they do.
CF: How do the skills that you're learning in music and journalism relate?
LD: I always thought that journalism and music complimented each other since they both involve telling stories. However, I didn’t expect the practical skills I’ve learned in both journalism and music to relate, but they do. This has been a huge gift.
The interview process is one of my favorite things about journalism, and it’s helped me with music. When doing an interview, I love feeling the energy of the other person, getting a sense of the little treasures that he or she might bring to the world, and translating that through writing. When singing an art song, it’s tough to dive into a character and remember that it’s not you. In order to separate myself from the person I’m portraying, I ask what the story is – something I learned in one of my journalism classes.
As a singer, it’s an honor to have text to convey the story. Reading the poetry of an art song helps with my own writing. I love how Professor Ziegler knows what I like and is able to find songs with text I can connect to. And, in both journalism and music, it’s not just text; it must be elevated in some way.
CF: Do you know what shape you'd like your career to take, and do you think it will involve both music and journalism?
LD: How it will play out is very open right now, but I hope to do both. I enjoy performing sacred music and chamber music, so whether it's singing in a professional choir or performing benefit recitals, I want to collaborate with others. I love collaborating; it’s just great.
With journalism, there are so many options that sometimes it's overwhelming. I thought that I just wanted to write, but now I'm taking an interest in broadcast news. I have a music blog, and have written for the Clarice Smith Center’s blog and DC Metro Theater Arts, so I’d love to continue covering the arts.
Read some of Lisa’s writing at the websites below:
- Lisa’s Blog: Make Music Speak
- DC Metro Theater Arts: Maria Schneider Orchestra at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
- Clarice Smith Center Blog: Anda Union Wind Horse