Beth Ray Westlund

As a new college graduate, I started work toward a career in psychology and social work. My path soon changed in order to pursue music on a full-time basis when I realized that, as Weston Noble said, my “spirit wasn’t being fed.” What a privilege to now work, learn, and share the inspiring power of music with my students and colleagues at Luther College.

I believe that singing completely exemplifies the liberal arts. Of course, there is the element of music and all that it encompasses. With the addition of text, singers also explore the fields of literature, poetry, theater, history, mythology, linguistics, and multiple languages. As performers, we incorporate drama, psychology, movement,and the skills of public presentation. Because the body itself is the instrument, singers must also learn about anatomy, physiology, wellness, athletic training, and even physics. Add to all of this the affective/aesthetic realm and the tradition of sharing music in community.

When you consider everything that is involved in being a singer, it is pretty difficult to be bored! I work with my students to develop these elements to the best of their current abilities. And when the elements come together in performance, the result can be transformative for the audience and for the performer. The power of such expression and communication is, ultimately, what we strive for.