Julie Dean - Class of 2018
Hi Julie!! We heard that you have one heck of a voice and have been in the process for trying out for The Church of the Highlands choir. Could you tell us about the experience? (how many hours per week and how many weeks and what the practices/auditions consist of)
Sure thing! I auditioned to be a vocalist for Church of the Highlands’ worship team last summer, and I am currently involved in a program called Infuse, a training program all musicians and production team members go through after the audition process. This training involves some basic music theory lessons, group vocal training, and lots of on-stage worship experience. I never realized how much preparation goes into the worship services until I began this process! Leading worship at Church of the Highlands requires that you be completely comfortable with everything on stage—the in-ear monitors, the bright lights, the voice of the music director in your ear giving notes to the musicians during the set—so that you can fully focus on worshipping The Lord without Ricky Bobby-ing your way into an awkward hands situation. We have rehearsal every Thursday night, where we go through the following Sunday’s worship set (with the production team, as well) and receive feedback from the instructors. I have gotten the opportunity to sing at several Sunday services at various campuses around Birmingham (FYI, call time is 6:30 AM!!), and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve on this awesome team!
How old were you when found out that you could sing?
I think I started singing about the same time I started talking—now my family and friends can’t get me to stop doing either! Some of my earliest memories involve my grandmother teaching me how to sing “Amazing Grace,” and I would perform it at every family gathering until everyone finally got sick of hearing it. So I had to learn some new material.
Did you take any professional voice lessons?
I was a musical theatre major for two years in undergrad, so I had weekly voice lessons during that time. We did a lot of Italian arias and Broadway tunes. Every semester ended with a vocal jury, a graded performance in front of the entire music faculty… I still have nightmares about those!
Have you ever sung at special events like weddings, sports games, or talent shows?
I frequently sing at wedding ceremonies (mainly of family and friends), and I participate in the annual UABSOD Variety Show every year. I love singing at weddings, but it is definitely very nerve-racking. I would hate for someone to be watching the recording of the ceremony a few years down the road and be like, “Well no wonder that marriage failed, did you hear the singer??”
Do you have a specific routine you do before performing?
No matter where or what I’m singing, I always get lots of nervous energy. I’ve found that this is a good thing though, because it motivates me to do my best. To calm myself down, I take a walk or do a couple of jumping jacks beforehand. Not during the wedding though, I don’t want to be too winded once I get up there.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in trying out for a singing group while in dental school?
I say, “Go for it!” It’s always good to have interests and hobbies outside of school in order to keep yourself sane. While it will require some good time-management to juggle professional school while learning music and making it to rehearsals every week, it’s totally doable! And if you find that it’s not, then just drop out of dental school and work on your music full time!
Just kidding, stay in school.