Not all college music programs invite undergraduates to participate in full-scale operas. But in his four years at CU-Boulder, Colorado Springs native Chas Douthit has played roles in four.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “Undergraduates and graduates can work together, which raises the bar and gives everyone a chance to learn and improve.”
Douthit, who will receive his bachelor's in music education with a choral music emphasis on May 6, has always been involved in performing at the College of Music, whether as Alidoro in Eklund Opera’s La Cenerentola last fall or in the chorus of The Pirates of Penzance. He says the best piece of advice he could give to a young music student is to take advantage of every opportunity.
“What’s been really fun for me is staying curious about a lot of different things,” he said. “There are so many resources here to help you learn about a wide breadth of things.”
One of Douthit’s favorite activities has been singing with vocal jazz ensemble Table for Five.
“I’ve been in the group for two years and it’s been wonderful to build a relationship with the other members as friends and musicians,” he said. “It’s satisfying to come to a group where everyone has a voice in where the music is going.”
And while his schedule became busier this past semester as Douthit began student teaching full time, he says it’s been rewarding and exciting to be in front of a classroom every day.
“Student teaching is a great way to learn by doing," said Douthit. "It’s really challenging but I’m learning a lot.”
In addition to taking voice lessons with Patrick Mason, Douthit also learned valuable teaching skills as a learning assistant for School of Education professor Susan Jurow.
“You should always get to know your professors whenever you can," said Douthit. "They’re here to help you—and they want to get to know you too.”
Douthit will address fellow graduates at College of Music commencement next week. As he and his classmates enter the professional world—Douthit hopes to land a full-time teaching gig in the next three to five years—he says they must keep in mind that learning doesn’t end with your diploma.
"You have to be humble, and not let the differences between your actual self and your 'ideal-self' bring you down,” he said. “I've learned that you must love and be kind to yourself exactly where you are in your learning.”
This summer, Douthit will perform in CU NOW’s Composer Fellows’ Initiative. He also plans to commit himself to his band, in which he collaborates to write and perform original rock music, and teach at a summer camp.