Alumnus and two-decade Anderson University professor of voice Dr. Tommy Watson trained national award winners and aspiring musicians
How did you come to serve at Anderson University?
I am a 1996 alumnus. Years later in spring 2001, the music department began a search for a future colleague who would teach voice and direct opera. The successful candidate would also teach other classes relating to voice as was necessary. I became knowledgeable about the vacant position, applied for it, was called to interview for the position, and was subsequently hired.
What do you teach at Anderson University? What does teaching your discipline require of students?
Primarily, I teach applied voice lessons, a required music history course for all undergraduate music majors; one or two history classes for the online master’s (degree) students. Every other year I teach opera workshop, song literature, pedagogical song literature and French and German diction. Teaching my discipline requires students to be consistently disciplined in the application of that which they learn in the studio and classroom.
Why did you choose to work at Anderson University instead of another institution?
I choose to work at Anderson University because I believe that I have been called to be here by Almighty God to minister to the AU community, particularly our clients and the external community at large. I believe that I make a difference for the better, especially as I have ample opportunities to bear witness to, and share, Jesus as is found in the Gospels.
What’s the most memorable thing that has happened to you at Anderson University?
There are many things to remember. I have two equally positive memorable things that happened to me at AU. First, Cory Simmons, a baritone and an applied voice student of mine, was the 2017 first-place winner for his category in the National Student Auditions, sponsored by NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing). He competed against thousands of other qualified students throughout the United States and won first place for the musical theatre category in which he sang. Secondly, another applied voice student of mine, Hannah Wise, a soprano, stated that I was one of two teachers who challenged her most in her collegiate career, and because of her appreciation of the standards and expectations that I set and firmly held in all of the classes that she took with me, she is inspired to ultimately become a university professor because of this. These two students are both 2020 graduates of Anderson University and are testimonies of the quality of education that can be earned in the music department of The South Carolina School of the Arts.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experiences at Anderson University?
I happen to be the longest serving faculty member of color in the history of Anderson University: 18 years as a full-time faculty member and an additional two years as an adjunct professor before that. Ah, how time flies!