Student follows passion for music, hopes to play church organ in the future

Alissa Davis is the only undergraduate student in her major: church music.

Davis has played the piano since childhood and chose to study the organ when she was 14 years old. Her mother suggested the switch to the more complex instrument, Davis said.

Seven years later, she is now a senior church music major with the organ as her primary focus. She plans to graduate this May and hopes to find a job as a church organist.

What made you decide to become a church music major?
I always thought it would be a good path for me to work in a church. I started taking organ when I was 14. And I really got attached to it, and I loved it and was very excited to be able to study it in college.

What are the components of the church music major? What do you learn?
Church music encompasses piano, organ and voice. Organ is my primary, and voice is my secondary. So I’ve taken voice lessons, and I’ve taken choral conducting so I’d be prepared to maybe conduct a church choir. I’ve taken choral literature courses so that I can pick music for church if I’m a director. And organ is my primary so that’s what I spend the most time on.

What would you like to do with your major?
I think I have a lot of options, but I’d be really excited to find an organist job at a church. I could also be a church choir director maybe later if that’s the way I want to go, but mainly organ.

What are your classes like?
My classes are very specific. I’ve taken a lot of courses that vary from church history to advanced theory, which you’d need for organ improvisation and things like that, and a lot to do with the church so I’d be comfortable working in a church, picking music for services.

Do you take classes in the religion department for your major as well?
I’ve taken a few classes from the religion department, and I took a class from the music department about sacred music.

Are your organ classes one-on-one?
I have lessons individually once a week, and I also meet with one grad student and one doctorate student, and we have a studio class every week as well.

What is the best aspect?
I really like all of it, but I would say learning more about conducting a choir and getting to know a well-rounded view of everything that goes on with church music.

Have you come across any challenges?
The theory aspect of it is pretty difficult. It’s a lot of performance-based type theory and stuff, but that’s pretty much it. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Any plans for after graduation?
Right now I’m just looking for maybe an organist job in the area and just keeping my options open.

What other things are you involved with on campus?
I’m president of the Taekwondo Club, and I believe in physical fitness.