Diverse Paths to Full-Time Employment: Four Recent Graduates in Voice

Author: Matt Haines

Jessica Bush Working

Jessica Working

There are plenty of jobs in church music for organists; choral conductors have many posts to apply for in colleges and in universities, and especially if their keyboard skills are up, in churches too. But what about someone with an MSM in voice?  Of course, some of our graduates go right on to DMA’s and we’ll be hearing about them later as years go on. But some want to be out working right away, and here are the stories of four of these singing strivers, two from the class of 2015 (Caporizo and Dotterweich) and two from the class of 2016 (Bush and Noone). Their paths are very different, yet each is employed full time, and they use a variety of skills for the church, for teaching, and for the concert hall, providing a dazzling display of entrepreneurial energy.

Jamie Caporizo Headshot Blue

M. Jamie Caporizo has always had a teaching bent, beginning her professional life as a secondary music teacher for Connecticut public schools, but then going on to graduate school at Notre Dame. She told us how much she appreciated her opportunities to sing solo and choral repertoire in the Sacred Music program, also while working as an intern for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, here in South Bend.  One week she would be singing a solo alongside Nathan Gunn, and the next week she would be planning a liturgy for a major feast in the Church of Loretto, motherhouse for the Sisters of the Holy Cross. This hands-on experience of many varied types, combined with her academic curriculum at Notre Dame, was a lively and nurturing blend. Little did she know how useful those diverse skills would be!

She now serves as Assistant Director of Liturgy and Music for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, working alongside the Director of liturgy to prepare and rehearse a choir of 60 singers -- lay and religious -- and to provide music for 2 weekend liturgies, and music for feasts and for funeral liturgies throughout the year. Yet along with her work in the church, Caporizo maintains an active career as a singer, in great demand locally. She is engaged as a soloist with the South Bend Symphony, Notre Dame Concordia choir, the Notre Dame Vocale, and the South Bend Chamber singers. Last year she played the role of Rosalind in Roger Steptoe’s opera As You Like It to great acclaim. In addition Caporizo now is teaching voice as an adjunct professor both at St. Mary’s College and at IUSB.

Samantha Headshot

Samantha Dotterweich settled in Indianapolis right after graduation. She has taken to the city and the city to her! She is employed full time, while getting lots of opportunities to sing, both as a chorister and as a soloist.  Her jobs are a combination of teaching positions, for the Indianapolis Children's Choir, where she conducts one of their neighborhood preparatory choirs and teaches general music classes, teaching for St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school, and both singing at and teaching for St.Paul's Episcopal Church.  Dotterweich is in demand as a soloist, and spent a few weeks this past summer at the Atlantic Music Festival, where she got to work with some great coaches and voice teachers and performed a great deal. 

She was one of the featured musicians (along with organist Jonathan Embry) in the short film produced by Brendan O'Shaughnessy on the Sacred Music Program.  If you haven’t seen it, have a look!  Dotterweich also worked with Dr. Doerries and the NDCC in the production of their new CD of hymns, forthcoming in the next few months.

Sarah Noone Headshot

2016 graduates are already fully employed as well in the work for which they were trained.  Like Samantha Dotterweich, Sarah Noone has put together two church jobs to make a whole, allowing her to live in the city she loves, Pittsburgh.  Ms. Noone was recently appointed Director of Music for the partner Roman Catholic parishes of St. John the Baptist and St. Joseph in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. She will be overseeing the Music Ministry for both parishes by planning music, coordinating and planning an annual concert series, managing and creating a training program for all volunteer cantors and musicians, and collaborating with the parish school to provide occasional music workshops. The two parishes began the merger three years ago, and Noone will be an asset during their continued transition to a solid partnership. She will also be serving as an Artist-in-Residence at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Robinson, PA where the music ministry is under the direction of fellow recent Notre Dame alum Brendan Barker (MSM, choral conducting, 2015).


Jessica Bush

Jessica Bush is working full-time in a parish (Christ the King, in South Bend), putting her training with the NDCC to work not only in the parish, but in the school as well.  We caught up with her last week (not easy to do) in the midst of her busy new life and asked a few questions. We also found out last week that she will be playing the role of Queen of the Night in the ND Opera production of Mozart’s Magic Flute this Spring.


What is your Parish like?

We have over 1400 registered families, and over 500 students in Christ the King School.

In the parish school, I am beginning to teach a brand new choir elective for 7th and 8th grade. I also rehearse and direct the student choir at the school masses each week, where I also accompany. I plan and coordinate weddings, funerals, school masses, weekend masses, and special liturgies throughout the year. I do everything from cantor, play organ, train lectors and cantors, rehearse choirs, select music, evaluate congregational singing, and work closely with the Pastoral Team to provide liturgies that will allow all who come to have a personal encounter with Christ, and to let Him be known, loved, and served.


What has surprised you the most about your job and your life as a full-time church musician and teacher?

The biggest surprise has been how much behind the scenes coordinating and communication that has to occur, and another pleasant surprise has been how team-oriented ministry is and what great support I have from my fellow rectory staff and volunteers. I would say only about 30% of what I do is directly music performing related, since so much is planning, preparation, corresponding, and coordinating - but it is so important to have an exemplary foundation of musical skills so that part will come somewhat automatically because there is so much else to do.


What advice would you offer to current students in training at ND?

I would advise current voice students who are interested in a church job to 1) read widely in liturgical documents and official/unofficial writings online and in print about church music, liturgy, and theology; 2) brush up on non-musical aspects of church service, such as Art and Environment and the other liturgical ministries; 3) be able to accompany and improvise on piano and organ, 4) have a clear idea of your own thoughts on church music and have an open mind to hear others' opinions, and 5) talk to a LOT of current people in the field, because sometimes there are questions you didn't know existed until you encounter them.  Lastly: keep your own prayer life central. Be patient with yourself, accept failures, keep track of your successes (I have a folder where I document encouraging notes I get from people), stay very organized, and keep in touch often with your mentors and peers.