Cumberland University


Corey Carlton: Finding New Voices


Corey Carlton has never been afraid to raise his voice. Singing regularly in performances with the Cumberland Chorale and University Singers and in musical productions with Cumberland University’s theater department, the Music major is never shy about making his vocal presence known.

For Carlton, however, the joy of singing lies not in the individual performance, but in the shared effort of a group.

"I love choir, and I have friends in it that will be my friends for life,” Carlton said. “There’s just a sense of ensemble you get when you’re performing with a group of people all working towards one common goal: to sound like a million bucks. It’s a really good thing to be a part of."

It is a feeling that the Mt. Juliet resident hopes to bring to others as a future music teacher. Attending Cumberland since 2009, Carlton is pursuing that goal as a Music major with an emphasis in vocal/general Music Education in the University’s School of Music and the Arts.

Originally attending a larger state university, Carlton transferred to Cumberland in part because of the University’s emphasis on personal attention.

“The small campus and class sizes are what attracted me,” Carlton said. “I saw that it was impossible to fall into the cracks here.”

Since his arrival, Carlton has done anything but. Now a veteran of numerous Cumberland choir and theater performances, Carlton is learning everyday how to build upon his musical talents in and out of the classroom with the help of faculty mentors.

“I couldn’t have done this much on my own,” Carlton said. “My professors have been extremely helpful to me. Dr. Brian Kilian has taught me about conducting and choir, and I’ve learned by his example. Dr. Michele Paise has taught me everything about voice, singing, and music education.”

Carlton has also begun to win acclaim as a leader. In 2011, Carlton became the president of the Middle Tennessee regional and Cumberland University chapters of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Collegiate organization. That same year, Cumberland’s NAfME chapter would win a national Chapter of Excellence Award for its Music Teachers Talking events.

In 2012, the multitalented singer and guitarist followed that success by becoming the representative for the School of Music and the Arts in Cumberland’s Student Government Association.

With so many commitments, Carlton describes his life as a music student as brisk but rewarding.

“Being a music student takes a lot of work, a lot of practice time,” Carlton said. “It’s busy, but it’s so fun that it almost doesn’t feel like work.”

At no time was that truer than in February 2012, when Carlton and other NAfME students participated in the Nashville Symphony’s Pied Piper Concert Series. The highlight of the event for Carlton was when he instructed children who attended the concert in basic techniques with musical instruments.

“We volunteered to work their ‘Instrument Petting Zoo,’ and I got to teach children how to hold a guitar and how to hit the strings without breaking them,” Carlton said. “I loved it.”

Such a sentiment is not surprising coming from Carlton, who is looking forward to a life as a music educator. Since high school, Carlton has known exactly what he wanted to do: to become a high school music and choir teacher.

Preparing for that goal at Cumberland University, Carlton has found his voice helping others find theirs.