Troy University students and students from area schools and community colleges had a chance to work with acclaimed performer and educator Cindy Dicken during the two-day Vocal Jazz and More! Workshop Feb. 26-27.
Dicken, an internationally renowned singer, currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Mt. San Antonio College, El Camino College, Fullerton College and Concordia University Irvine, and has sung on the soundtracks of more than 50 films, including “Spider-Man,” “Star Trek,” “Wall-E” and “Ice Age.”
The event began in 2015 as an on-campus recruiting and outreach opportunity for middle school through community college students.
“We actually changed the event a bit this year because of her skillsets,” said Dr. Diane Orlofsky, Director of Choirs. “She has a broad and wide background that lends itself to the versatility and programming of an event like this. She does solo work herself, but she also teaches commercial voice. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Orlofsky opened the event to soloists this year, and Dicken spent the second afternoon working with them on their unique talents.
During the course of the event, she also worked extensively with Frequency, TROY’s vocal jazz ensemble.
“It was really fun. I got to polish things that have been set aside since Frequency’s beautiful concert on Feb. 14,” Dicken said. “After a concert, it’s a big high, and it’s hard to let things go as a performer. We took things and looked at them from a fresh point of view, with a fresh set of ears and eyes. It’s been really fun to hang out.”
She left the event impressed with the openness and coachability of not only the TROY students, but the high schoolers as well.
“Everybody was so open and ready to learn something new, to figure out things from a different point of view,” Dicken said. “They allowed me to pick apart what they were doing so that together we found a road that was maybe an easier road than the way they were going, and got them somewhere they wanted to get. Sometimes you get to a technical place that stops your artistry. Our job as teachers is to help get students over those humps, and I think we did that here.”
She credited Orlofsky’s guidance with preparing TROY students to learn the skills necessary to progress in their singing.
“The kids were amazing because she prepared them,” Dicken said. “I’ve found with the kids here at TROY that their director is so humble, it was easy for me to come in and do whatever I wanted. She has prepared them so completely to be open and to be teachable, and that is such a great life skill. If you are a teachable human, you will go through your life constantly learning and being excited about things, always adding to your toolbox. That is a life skill.”
Dicken said she hoped students walked away from the event with one key lesson.
“I want them to know that it’s OK to be who and what they are, that they don’t have to be anything more than that,” she said. “They should not be constantly longing to be what they’re not, because what they are is beautiful.”
Vocal Jazz and More! was presented thanks to a Jazz2U grant from the Jazz Education Network.