(Jan. 12, 2018) -- John Nix, associate professor of voice and vocal pedagogy in the UTSA Department of Music is recognized as one of the nation's leading voice pedagogy instructors and is the founding director of the UTSA Vocal Arts Laboratory.
His current and former students include members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, members of the Army Soldiers’ Chorus and faculty members at universities in Montana, Texas, Wyoming and New York, to name a few.
At UTSA, Nix has inspired music students and faculty to get involved with a vocal community outreach project called America Sings Together. Through the project, held on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he hopes people across San Antonio and the nation pause to sing portions of “Amazing Grace” together as a sign of unity to honor Dr. King’s legacy.
We sat down with Nix to learn about his passion for singing and why he thinks music truly is the universal language.
Why do you believe music can bring people together?
When people make music together, they not only have to sing or play their part, but they also must listen to and coordinate their singing or playing with all the other people performing at that time. It is a shared experience, and a very ‘in-the-moment’ activity. We feel most alive when we are engaged in emotionally important activities, such as singing.
Can you talk about the America Sings Together project and why it’s important?
It’s about getting people of all races and religions to stop for a moment and sing together in honor of one of our country’s greatest leaders. Many of the concerns raised by the civil rights movement are still serious problems. As a country, we need to keep working to make Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream” a reality for all Americans.
What would you say to a student who is interested in entering your field?
I would tell a prospective student that it’s not only about your singing; you must develop your mind and spirit so you have something to say. Read poetry and literature, go to museums, go see thought-provoking theatrical productions, go hike in the woods and see the beauty of nature, study history, travel and learn how to dance. You must develop good health habits to stay active for a lifetime of singing. You must also learn everything you can about your art and the business side of your art, so that you know how to create opportunities for yourself.
What is an important thing going on in your field that no one is talking about but should be?
In addition to teaching singing, I also conduct research on singing and the human voice. One thing that really interests me is what is going on with our voices as we become more computer and text message-driven in our interactions. Nothing matches the expressive potential of the human voice, and I am afraid if we don’t regularly use it, we could lose it, so to speak.
What makes your department at UTSA unique?
It’s a cliché to say, “we’re like a family,” but in many ways, the UTSA Music Department is. We are small enough – we have about 325 music majors – and all the music faculty truly know the students and care about them. I know every voice major by name. I will teach every undergraduate voice performance or choral music education student and every graduate voice student, at some point in their time at UTSA. That’s pretty cool!
Where do you find inspiration?
For years, I got inspiration from famous performers: Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, etc. As I have gotten older, I am inspired by people who make a difference. I recently was in an airport in Atlanta, and I ran into Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of the original organizers of the March on Washington in 1963. He has devoted his life, and risked his life, to fight against injustice and to look out for other people who are less fortunate. It was a great honor to speak with him. I thanked him for his lifetime of work.
This high school student exhibit features images, videos, interviews and writings that the students learned about while participating in "The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity."Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Join the UTSA TEAM Autism Research Center for a presentation by Dr. Felipe de Jesús Díaz Reséndez from the Universidad de Guadalajara - Centro Universitario del Sur. The event is free and open to everyone.Frio Street Building (FS 1.406), Downtown Campus
UTSA has a greater focus in 2018 to serve the local community. Learn the many opportunities you can get involved.Student Union, 1st floor corridor, Main Campus
Dr. Ricky Jones, professor and chair of the Department of Pan-African studies at the University of Louisville. He will share his expertise on the impact of African American history on today’s society.Student Union, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Join the UTSA TEAM Autism Research Center for a presentation by Dr. Felipe de Jesús Díaz Reséndez from the Universidad de Guadalajara - Centro Universitario del Sur. The event is free and open to everyone.Frio Street Building (FS 3.530), Downtown Campus
Public administration and criminal justice undergraduate students share their experiences at prestigious local and national internship programs with fellow classmates.Durango Building, Paseo Room (DB 1.120), Downtown Campus
Neeraj Bhatia, assistant professor at the California College of the Arts, will discuss design agency and working in the public realm, commoning at the domestic and urban scales, and ongoing research into co-living experiments.Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
MacDonald, a criminology and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak about the effects of local police surges on crime and arrests in New York City.Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
© 2017 The University of Texas at San Antonio | One UTSA Circle San Antonio, TX 78249 | Information 210-458-4011