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Notes of Triumph: Unveiling the Musical Highlights of the Year at Dynamic Music Studios

As we reflect on the past year at Dynamic Music Studios, it's with immense pride and gratitude for the remarkable musical journey that unfolded. Our commitment to fostering a dynamic and enriching musical environment resulted in numerous milestones and accomplishments. Simultaneously, in my personal journey as a teacher and performer, it's been a year of challenges, triumphs, and continuous learning. From innovative studio events to impactful community service initiatives, each month brought its own set of achievements, adding to the tapestry of our musical narrative. I would like to take a little time to reflect and highlight some of my most memorable sutdio and teaching moments in 2023.

January: At Dynamic Music Studios, we kicked off the year with our first monthly group class—a performance class that brought joy to both students and teachers. The students and teachers had a fantastic time. I also returned to Kirkwood Community College for my eighth year as an applied voice teacher.

February: Our monthly group class in February focused on music theory at DMS, while I proudly watched my student Beth Poe take the lead in Grease with Regina High School.

March: March saw the success of our second annual Practice-A-Thon at DMS, raising nearly $1,000 for the United Action for Youth. I celebrated the achievements of four students—Allison, Emily, Melanie, and Madeline—who all took home first prize in their categories at the Iowa NATS competition in Pella, IA.

April: Funds raised during the Practice-A-Thon allowed us to paint a mural in the studio's group space at DMS. I enjoyed a live performance of "The Lion King" at the Des Moines Civic Center with a dear friend Brittany, whom I met while studying music at Wartburg College.

May: We celebrated the graduation of two seniors, Ryan Brentner and Zach Wieskamp, at DMS, while I honored my Jesup student Hannah at her senior voice recital, who earned a scholarship to study music therapy at Wartburg College.

June: In June, we held a virtual recital at DMS, showcasing performances from all studios. I saw students Allison and Rachel in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Cedar Falls Community Theatre and Frozen Jr. with Young Footliters Youth Theatre. I also performed a deeply personal piece, "Bye for Now" by Lisa Neher, at Coe College for the Iowa MTNA conference in Cedar Rapids, which incorporates voicemails from my deceased mother and grandfather.

July: Our favorite studio dog, Ginger, made a visit to DMS. I witnessed students Rana, Savannah, and Madeline shine in City Circle’s teen production of High School Musical.

August: DMS took the stage at the Iowa State Fair, performing on the Anne and Bill Riley Stage in Des Moines. I saw students Allison in Fame Jr. with Cedar Falls Community Theatre and Melanie and Allison in Waterloo Community Playhouse's "Musical Theatre Showcase." I also held a coffeehouse event in Jesup, IA, at Em’s Coffeehouse.

September: Welcoming a new voice teacher, Rebecca Burton, to the Forte Cooperative was a highlight at DMS. Throughout the year, I rekindled my passion for opera, landing a role in Opera Quad Cities' production of La Boheme, and started the invigorating Twang Farm series with Tom Burke. My article with Lisa Neher about Composer Collaboration in the Voice Studios also came out in the NATS Inter Nos newsletter.

October: DMS hosted three jam-packed Halloween recitals. I attended Central Region NATS, celebrated students' achievements, and presented on Composer Collaboration in the Independent Voice studio about my collaboration with composer and friend Lisa Neher.

November: Another pooch, Ruth, baby of Saul Lubaroff our winds instructor, visited DMS. I completed training, "Voice Growth and Change in Kids and Teens," with Dr. Jenevora Williams through Full Voice Music. I also enjoyed seeing students Allison in The Little Mermaid at the Waterloo Community Playhouse and former voice teacher Dan and Rosemary. I auditioned for Sondheim on Sondheim with City Circle and was cast.

December: We closed the year at DMS with a coat drive and open house, collecting 52 coats for the North Liberty Community Closet. I held an intimate winter recital with my Jesup students and began rehearsals for Sondheim on Sondheim.

This year brought personal and professional growth, marked by collaboration with Tom Burke and a year-long program. Excitement fills the air as we look forward to more performances and returning to the stage after a few years off. The growth at Dynamic Music Studios is equally thrilling, with amazing students, teachers, and community support. I can't wait to see what 2024 holds!

Dr. Jessica Saunders is co-owner and voice instructor at Dynamic Music Studios in Coralville, IA.

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