“I want to do what I love to do, which is make music and teaching,” Cornwell said. “Those two things have guided my life.”
Cornwell completed his master’s of fine art degree in musical theater from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and is continuing his education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Cornwell is working towards obtaining his second master’s degree in vocal performance and pedagogy, the science of teaching, as well as music education.
“I am finishing my teaching requirements to teach high school band and choir,” Cornwell said.
Cornwell evolved from an instrumentalist to a vocalist and after receiving his bachelor’s degree in communication and musical theater, he moved to New York to explore his career options.
“New York is the place you go when you want to do musical theater,” Cornwell said. “It wasn’t about stardom, it was about doing what I love to do.”
Cornwell’s love for music runs deep and so does his love for his community.
“Sparks Music Center is the musical connection in the community,” Cornwell said. “I would like to see things grow in Sparks as far as musical performance and theater.”
The dream to see Sparks’ musical community grow starts with Cornwell’s voice studio. Cornwell explained that since the studio has just opened, he is still looking for new students of all experience levels and ages.
“Students audition so I can get an idea of what they want and where they want to go,” Cornwell said of the first step.
From the audition, Cornwell assesses the student’s vocal abilities and sets goals for the student.
“I want the students that I work with to develop a love for music,” Cornwell said.
Cornwell said that while he hopes to encourage students to have fun and experiment with music, he wants to instill proper vocal techniques in his students.
“I work hard to find a technical and healthy approach to vocal training,” Cornwell said. “How to get the sound you want without damaging your vocal cords.”
Making sure to keep the vocal cords healthy is important: Cornwell cited Queen lead singer Freddy Mercury as a vocalist who was classically trained but still performed rock music.
“Everyone is chasing instant celebrity and doesn’t realize the people they idolize have been doing this since they were children,” Cornwell said.
Cornwell pointed out that the people who have won American Idol have formal training or some type of vocal background. His own professional experience started before graduating high school when Cornwell sang for small gigs and with a Jazz combo.
Cornwell said that while he would like students to be committed to long-term lessons, he is willing to help people practice for special occasions, such as engagement proposals, weddings or anniversaries.
“I think the most important thing is that the studio and the way I teach is student-focused,” Cornwell said. “I try to tailor lessons specifically to the students and to have fun.”
In addition to having fun, Cornwell wants to create well-rounded musical students. This includes the ability to read sheet music, sight read sheet music and find pitch by ear.
Cornwell believes that regardless of experience level, his classes are perfect for the high school or home-schooled student who wishes to continue their music education in college or prepare for auditions.
For more information on Cornwell’s voice studio or to set up an audition for lessons, call 762-5377. The public is invited to see Cornwell perform at his graduate recital on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Reno.