JSU alumna Madison Baldwin has been offered a position with the Soldiers’ Chorus, a group within the US Army Field Band. According to Baldwin, “The Field Band is known as the musical ambassadors of the army, and their mission is to connect the American people to their army.” Originally from Fort Payne, AL, Madison graduated from JSU in Spring 2018 as a Vocal Music Education major.
Why did you choose to attend JSU?
I had considered attending a larger university before deciding on JSU, but ultimately a smaller school was a much better fit for me. I never felt like I was lost in a sea of students. The Music Department faculty are some of the most outstanding musicians, educators, and people that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. On top of that, they truly made me feel like they cared about my education, future, and well-being. So many of my classes were very small and allowed for more one-on-one time with the professor. There are many more opportunities to stand out and more leadership roles to fill. I got to do so many things that I never would have been able to do at a larger university, and I found that it was very easy to come out of my shell.
Why did you choose music for your major?
I come from a very musical family and decided to join my high school’s chorus when I was a freshman. Joining the chorus truly changed my life. It had such a positive impact on me, and I wanted to have that same impact on my future students. I also love choral music and had dreams of being a choral conductor. I became more focused on performance rather than education during my time at JSU, but I know I will find my way back to teaching one day.
In your opinion, what is the coolest thing about the Music Department?
The JSU music department provides you with endless opportunities. I was never confined to only choral ensembles just because that was my major. Every section of the music department is open to any student willing to put in the time and work. I was able to sing in several choral ensembles every semester. I had amazing solo opportunities in those ensembles. There were so many operas and musicals to be a part of, and I got to perform some of the most amazing roles (Cinderella in Into the Woods, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Christine in The Phantom of The Opera, to name a few). I got to sing solos with the concert band, Chamber Winds. I got to dance as a ballerina with the Marching Southerners. I worked as a student worker in both the choral and music department offices. I even helped create a small vocal ensemble. I dipped my toes in everything that I could, and today I am a better musician for it.
What clubs/organizations were you involved in?
The Marching Ballerinas, Jacksonville Opera Theatre, Drama Department, A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, Civic Chorale, Vocal Octet, Encore! Show Choir, Sigma Alpha Iota, National Association for Music Education, and American Choral Directors Association
What was your favorite thing to eat and/or drink on/off campus?
These are both off campus, but my favorite food was definitely the ribs from Cooter Browns and my favorite drinks were the margaritas from Baja.
Where was your favorite place to hang out on campus?
Mason Hall (the music building). It was my sanctuary. My safe place. There was nowhere I would rather be. I had unimaginable highs and lows in that building. I met some of the most important people in my life there. Performances, break throughs, musical and life lessons learned. It’s a little overwhelming to think of what that place means to me.
What have you been doing post-graduation?
After graduation, I moved to New York City with my two best friends, whom I met while we were all students at JSU. We are all performers with dreams of Broadway and a love for the city. I am so thankful that Jacksonville brought us all together. I never could have made that leap without them.
What is the last song you had on repeat? Who is your favorite musician?
“Linger” by The Cranberries. Billy Joel.
What are your hobbies?
When I was living in New York, my favorite thing to do was go see Broadway shows on my nights off from work. I also loved exploring the city and trying new foods. There is never enough time see and try everything in NYC.
When I’m home in Alabama, I love to play music and watch football with my family.
What advice would you give a student who is new to JSU?
Create an experience for yourself. Your undergraduate years are so special and so short. Get the most you can out of your professors and the opportunities they give you. Go out and make friends and memories. Also, keep an eye on your Chick-fil-A intake. The freshman 15 is real!
What is a course you would recommend to a freshman at JSU?
A Cappella Choir!!! There is truly nothing like singing in a choral ensemble. There is so much to gain from participation and it’s a wonderful way to meet new people.