Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Laura Schultz
Current Location: Irvine, CA
Laura, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I have loved singing and performing for as long as I can remember. My mom would say it all started when she noticed that I would memorize and sing along with every soundtrack she'd play in the car. Even as a young child, I was introduced to a variety of music including The Beach Boys, Peter, Paul and Mary, Evita, and even my dad's favorite: Maria Callas singing the score of Carmen. Have you ever seen a five year old singing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" in the living room?
My love of singing turned into a passion for loving musicals when my family and I would celebrate special occasions when attending shows at the Elizabeth Howard's Curtain Call Dinner Theater and performances at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. When I was twelve years old, I saw a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera and according to my parents, they looked over at me at intermission and I was so moved and inspired that I couldn't even speak. When they asked if I liked it, all I was able to reply was - "I LOVE it."
The opportunities I have had with music and performing, including attending Orange County School of the Arts for Musical Theater, being section leader in my college's world touring chorus, and participating in numerous theatrical productions, has also inspired me to share my love with younger generations. I am now a vocal music educator in the Irvine Unified School District and my hope is to instill the same love and passion for the performing arts in my young learners.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
Although I am currently teaching online with 4th-6th grade students, my typical assignment is Kindergarten-3rd grade general music, 4th and 5th grade Vocal Music, and 6th-8th grade Chorus and Musical Theater. The scope of this position presents challenges but the rewards of seeing students embrace their unique talents and excel in the arts has been exceptionally rewarding. Along with teaching, I love to continue my own growth as a performer by participating in shows at the Rose, as well as practicing my skills on the ukulele and the piano.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
I did not begin having competitive experiences in the arts, such as performing in musicals, until I was in high school. The competitive aspect was very intense for someone like me who was, and always has been to this day, sensitive. This piece of advice was given to me later in my high school career and I always wish it had been said sooner. No matter how talented you are, it all depends on what the director is looking for. An audition is not entirely a judgement of your talent, as much as it is an exercise in transforming yourself into a character that matches the director's vision of what they want for the show they're casting.
This advice is more applicable to what I do in my career now. When I direct a musical each spring for the students at our middle school, I have a transparent and detailed conversation with them before the audition process so they better understand and are more equipped with the outcome of casting. We work constantly on accepting roles with grace and humility, and being supportive of one another in a collaborative experience which is an essential formula for a highly successful arts experience.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about something that maybe inspired you to pursue a life in the arts?
Inspiration for me originates from observing an artist who is giving an authentic performance that is relating to the human experience. This could be an artist who is really immersed in their performance and sharing their humanity in a modality of expression that they excel at. This could be an instrumentalist, a dancer, a visual artist, an actor, a singer, etc.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
I am extremely proud of having become a teacher because it merged my passion for the arts with an opportunity to provide meaningful experiences to others. Earning the recognition from colleagues and administration has reinforced my vision for what arts education should look like. I am proud to have been awarded the 2014 IUSD Teacher of Promise, the 2018 Orange County Arts and Administrators Elementary Vocal Teacher of the Year, and the 2020 IUSD Visual and Performing Arts Elementary Teacher of the Year.
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
The arts are all about connecting human emotion and experience. It brings people together. Once the channel has opened, then it allows for shared perspectives, and simply a deeper understanding of one another. I am so proud of the Rose for setting an example of how community art can still flourish. Art needs to be accessible and available and it needs to stay active in the mind of patrons that support it and embrace it.
YouTube Channel: @Schultz Singers
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