| Music Major Headed to Music Conservatory |
Ariel Deshotel, senior music major, comes from a musical background; nearly everybody in her family sings. Growing up, she sang in every church choir because that was what children at the parish did. As a result, having music in her life was not a decision to be made but simply a way of life.
Because of her musical background, hard work and perseverance, Deshotel will attend the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, where she will study to earn a dual master’s degree in vocal performance and music theory.
Deshotel is one of 323 undergraduates and 747 graduate students graduating during the 62nd Commencement Ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12 at Reliant Arena, One Reliant Park.
Like all children, Deshotel went through phases of what she wanted to pursue as an adult: a rocket scientist and then a math teacher. It was not until her final semester of high school that she decided she wanted to pursue music as a career and not merely as a hobby.
“I didn’t know anything about becoming a music major and how to go about that,” Deshotel said. “I just had this vague sense that I wanted to sing.”
With the help of a mathematics teacher, Deshotel was introduced to Marion Russell Dickson, a voice teacher who would later become one of Deshotel’s mentors. With the help of Dickson, Deshotel rehearsed several audition pieces.
After auditioning at the University of North Texas and the University of Houston, Deshotel, at the request of Dickson, auditioned at the University of St. Thomas. Dickson had just been hired by the University as an adjunct professor of voice and diction.
“The audition process was very informal,” Deshotel said. “I came in and Dr. Knapp was sitting at the piano. I sang for him, he fixed something and it sounded better. It was like magic. Clearly this is where I needed to be.”
Coming from a high school with nearly 8,000 students, the University’s small size initially came as a shock to Deshotel. She soon found that everyone was friendly and the campus was beautiful, and she came to appreciate the intimacy of the small class sizes.
“At bigger schools you just get overlooked,” Deshotel said. “You are just not going to be one of 17 people in your class as you are here. At St. Thomas, I not only learned the material, but I was able to get personal experience and real world advice from professors and other students.”
While Deshotel sings praise of the entire Music Department, two professors played a special role in her development as a musician: Dickson and Dr. Malcolm Rector, assistant professor of music. Both have active careers in performing, publishing and composition, and they are able to use their life experience to help Deshotel develop in her professional career.
Perhaps the most important lesson they have taught her is to be versatile and flexible. As a musician it can be difficult to earn a living by singing only one style of music. During her time at UST, Deshotel studied different styles of singing including Broadway and choral, and she feels comfortable in her ability to succeed as a musician.
She aspires to be an opera singer but has learned the importance in being versatile, which is why she is preparing to teach as well.
“St. Thomas has given me a strong musical foundation,” Deshotel said. “I feel prepared to take the next step in Cincinnati.”