The Gateway is running an ongoing special feature on members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha adjunct staff. They are the underserved backbone of our University, and we thank them for their effort. These stories have been contributed to us by students within the UNO School of Communication.
–Jared Kennedy, Editor-in-chief
Emma J. Steeve
When Wendy Eaton isn’t teaching at UNO, she is performing as a mezzo-soprano and giving private vocal lessons.
The students she enjoys working with the most are the curious ones and the ones who work hard. According to Eaton, she finds it rewarding to help students find their artistic and creative self-expression through music.
“I think as a teacher I’ve learned a lot about myself through my students and through the work I do with them because as a teacher you’re always trying to communicate,” she said.
Alyssa Askeland, who takes private vocal lesson with Eaton, described her as “personable and kind with a lot of patience, knowledge, and constructive feedback.”
In addition to being a part-time instructor, Eaton performs in concert and on stage, and has appeared with the Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Heartland Opera Theatre, Orchestra Omaha, and the Heartland Philharmonic. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and a past member of Nebraska Arts Council Touring Program.
“Going from performing and into a classroom and becoming an educator makes me re-examine what I do. Working as an interpreter through this temporal medium, which is music, is a constant revolving evolution for me,” she said.
Originally from Boston, Eaton’s passion for singing came at a young age when she would make up songs as a child. Not until junior high school did she get involved with singing when she auditioned for the chorus in a musical. The next year, she joined choir. In her sophomore year, she began taking voice lessons. She started working at The Rose Theatre in 2000.
“For singers, the voice changes. As my voice settled and grew into my adult sound, I was encouraged by the amount of recognition and opportunities that I had and I loved it,” she said.
“Making a living in the arts is not easy,” Eaton said “The people who stay with it are the people who have such passion for it and I think that it is a life well lived and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my work life another way, work is so much a part of your life, but it also my art.”
Some of her favorite memories include working at The Rose Theatre and performing in musicals such as, “Seussical the Musical” as Gertrude and “Madeline’s Christmas Musical” as Miss Clavel. She especially enjoyed “Madeline’s Christmas Musical” because she remembered reading the books when she was younger and passing them on to her children and then grandchildren.
As for retiring, she describes her work as “mature middle.” And not stopping soon. Eaton will be singing the alto solos at Creighton University with the Creighton Choirs in its Classical Christmas: Beethoven, Mass in C. She will also be organizing a spring concert at UNO.
Eaton, holds a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from Florida State University and a master of music degree in voice performance and an equal emphasis in choral conducting from UNO. The classes she has taught include Applied Voice, Music Appreciation, Diction, Class Voice and Song Literature.
Eaton said: “I think that people who pursue the arts as a career are lifelong learners and that’s the draw because you are never done. It’s also never dull and that is a challenge as well as a joy.”