Presbyterian College Voice Student Wins State Musical Theater Competition

Presbyterian College Voice Student Wins State Musical Theater Competition

On Oct. 17, sophomore music major Emlynn Shoemaker performed and won the South Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Musical Theatre Student Auditions held at Winthrop University. She will continue on to the Regional Student Auditions to be held in March 2016 at College of Charleston. Shoemaker is a voice student from Pendleton, S.C.

In these Student Auditions, singers perform and receive written feedback about their performances. They also meet with and hear other singers, while teachers who are members of NATS can become better acquainted with their colleagues. During these auditions, everyone has the chance to hear a variety of songs and see a diversity of performances.

In the past, Student Auditions consisted of a classical competition, which Dr. Christian Elser, associate professor of music, requires his music majors to compete in each year in the spring. This year, however, the student auditions were divided into classical and musical theater competitions. The musical theater competition was a voluntary competition Elser’s students could participate in.

This is exactly what Shoemaker did in order to further immerse herself into the “mysterious world that is auditioning.” Her main motivators were gaining experience and putting herself and her name out there; but also, she said, “I enjoy winning.”

On the day of the competition, Shoemaker entered Winthrop University without fear. “I had to stop worrying about whether or not I looked awkward on stage,” Shoemaker said. “So that’s what I did in my audition as well. I just went for it. And once I gave my all to the judges, I told them to have a wonderful rest of the day, and then left.”

For Shoemaker, participating in competitions is not a strange experience. Indeed, the fact that she was participating in a statewide competition didn’t cross her mind until after she had left the building to go home. She feels more nervous going to her voice lessons each week because she knows there is always a chance for improvement that her voice professor, Elser, will point out.

“[Elser] is constantly pushing me, which is what I need,” Shoemaker said. Elser had been working with Shoemaker on her repertoire for the competition since August.

However, Shoemaker also recognizes that she is still just starting out in her musical career, and that added to her nerves before the competition began. The Friday before, she practiced one of her songs on stage to “get the feel of it,” and realized that the stage was huge for just her and her accompanist. “My presence has to make up for the lack of everything else and occupy all of that empty space, so I just went for it,” Shoemaker said.

“I realized that I have to sing every word as if I’m the one saying it. I’m telling the story. I just had to get over my head telling me that everyone is judging me for being overdramatic,” Shoemaker said. And that is exactly what she did, which helped her to win the musical theater competition and to continue on to the regional auditions.

When she heard the news of her winning the competition, Shoemaker screamed, jumped out of her bed that she was trying to nap in and called her mom. Rather than crying with joy, she couldn’t stop grinning all day. “[Winning] made me feel like I could do anything. It definitely gave me the confidence I need to participate in the classical division,” Shoemaker said. She will participate in the Student Auditions classical competition in February.

Elser was not very surprised at Shoemaker’s win in the musical theater competition, but certainly very happy. “Emlynn is very talented and I expected her to do quite well,” he said.

While she is nervous for the regional auditions, Shoemaker is channeling those nerves into her vocal practice, working continuously each day to improve her musical ability.


Written by Allison Cooke, a junior English major, media studies, journalism track minor from Winnsboro, S.C.