In our first ever "College Week," The Ensemblist is celebrating the myriad of ways aspiring theatre artists receive an education in the arts. Today, we hear from Jonathan Heller, currently getting his graduate degree at NYU.
As an undergrad, I studied opera at the Eastman School of Music. I loved every moment and opportunity that I had to perform at Eastman, but I discovered that my passion lies with Musical Theatre somewhere during my Junior year. At that point, transferring to a Musical Theatre program and starting over again was not a logical or financially possible choice. I figured that good training is good training, and I loved all my teachers. Looking up to actors like Audra MacDonald and Kelli O'Hara who were in the same boat served as inspirations to me as I continued my studies
When senior year came around, I was on the fence about whether or not I would apply to grad programs or just take an amalgam of classes in the city to fill in the gaps of training that I was missing. I did some research into programs, and I decided to only apply to NYU Steinhardt's Masters in Musical Theatre and Vocal Pedagogy. I knew that I wanted to perform and teach voice, so this program seemed like a perfect fit! I also met some of the faculty in a visit during the Fall of my senior year, and I absolutely fell in love with the program. Luckily, I was accepted and I can't wait to start classes in a little over a week!
I think it is very important as a performer to remember that there is no "right" path to achieve your goals. That has sometimes been difficult for me to accept, but it is the truth. There were definitely times in undergrad when I wished I was in a BFA Musical Theatre program, but I would not trade the knowledge and experiences I obtained from Eastman for anything in the world. Being unique and having your own journey is a beautiful thing. I can't wait to see what the future holds.
Listen to our episodes on college theatre programs here.