Passion. Escape. Happiness. Those are words Judson College’s new maestro Mr. Garret E. Torbert uses to express his love for music. Torbert joined the Judson Music Department for the spring semester 2019. He is currently teaching music theory and an ear training course, as well as serving as the choir instructor.
Torbert was born and raised in Mobile, Ala. Though he inherited his musical voice from his paternal grandfather, Torbert is the only one in his immediate family who is gifted with musical talent. He started taking piano classes at the age of six; since then music has become part of Torbert’s everyday life.
His Life Decision
Torbert made the decision to pursue music as his career in high school during a major vocal performance. He attended the University of South Alabama for his undergraduate degree and he went to the University of Missouri-Kansas Conservatory (UMKC) for his master’s degree. Currently, he is pursuing his doctorate degree at the University of Alabama (UA). At UA, he not only does piano accompaniments but also teaches voice lessons to undergraduate music education major students and music therapy major students. He has spent most of his time on solo performances until he extended his passion to teaching music as he continues to pursue higher degrees. Aside from playing piano and performing vocally, Torbert is also blessed with his talent for playing trumpet in a band. Whether it is teaching or performing, Torbert declares that music gives the same amount of excitement for him. When asked about his interests other than music, Torbert shared that traveling is another passion in his life.
Torbert learned of Judson from a good friend—a previous instructor here at Judson—who recommended him for the position. Torbert then got connected with Dr. Cindy St. Clair, the head of the Music Department. With such musical talents, Torbert is a joy to the Judson community. He shares his positive impression of the school that “There is a lot of potential here at Judson. I think the amazing thing about Judson is that it’s an all women’s college, and we are living now in an age where women should feel in power. Through not only the empowerment of women, but through their faith with God, and the combination of those two, I think Judson could really put itself back on the map.”
As a vocal performance instructor here at Judson, Torbert also explains how he is working to eliminate the misconception that solo classical singing and choral singing cannot meet. He explains that even though his major focus is on solo performances, the two methods of singing are not that different from each other. He is able to apply the aspects of his voice instruction to the choral experience.
‘Music is my passion’
The result of this practice has been a great benefit to each member of Judson choir. Torbert shared that the upcoming activities of the Judson choir group included singing on the Preview/Scholarship day on February 16, participating in the African-American Read-in on February 21, and performing in the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame on March 7. The group will also have a choir tour and recruiting day to invite students for the 2019 fall semester.
Torbert concludes the interview with what music means to him, saying, “As cliché as it sounds, music is my passion. It is my life. It is a means of escape from everyday life even though it is my everyday life. It is an emotional experience for me. When I am playing or singing, it is a way for me to immerse myself into a state of complete happiness and freedom.” He is truly excited about this semester and the potential of Judson College musicians.