Teuscher — from Vancouver, Washington — will graduate with a BM in commercial music on April 24, 2020
A young Brigitta Teuscher fell in love with music long before music started loving her back.
“I’ve always been drawn to music and making up songs, but when I was younger, I was a terrible singer,” she explained. “It turns out I just have long vocal cords for a girl, so I developed later in life.”
By the time Teuscher arrived at BYU, though, her voice had matured to the point where she was consistently competing in music. Her unique sound quickly landed her the position of jazz vocalist for BYU’s premier big band Synthesis, and from there she decided to dedicate her undergraduate studies to music, ultimately landing in commercial music.
“I decided that I wanted to go all in on music,” Teuscher said. “I chose commercial music because it allowed me to study contemporary voice outside of just musical theatre while also teaching me different skills like composition, audio engineering, production and vocal performance technique. I was able to learn a lot of things in one major.”
Eager for a variety of experiences, Teuscher was able to travel throughout her time at BYU as part of performance tours and experiential learning opportunities. She toured twice with Synthesis — first to Scandinavia and the Baltics and more recently to the Caribbean and Cuba — and joined the Department of Theatre and Media Arts on a London study abroad. Teuscher also received an experiential learning grant to go to a competition in Sacramento, where she won first place as a jazz vocalist.
“It’s been a really fun opportunity to travel and sing, but the highlight for me has been meeting different groups of people I would have never been exposed to otherwise,” she said.
While commercial music has proven to be the right path for Teuscher, she wasn’t as confident when she began her first classes in the School of Music.
“Starting out in the major, I knew nothing about audio engineering; it was really daunting for me because I was in these music technology and recording studio classes with peers who seemed like they had been doing this their whole life,” said Teuscher. “I felt inadequate every day, and I was just way behind everybody.”
But — just as with singing earlier in her life — Teuscher was determined to stick with these new concepts and technologies until they became skills and tools for her.
“It’s been three years since those first classes, and now I’m a recording studio TA,” she said. “The things that were so challenging then are things I do every day now, and they’re relatively easy for me. When I look back at where I started and how far I’ve come, that’s probably one of the most rewarding accomplishments for me here at BYU.”
Teuscher will take the lessons she has learned about hard work, dedication and patience — particularly patience with herself — into future performance and educational opportunities.
“I’ve learned that growth is a very gradual process and that it’s vital to enjoy the moment and the process, little by little and day by day,” said Teuscher. “Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not immediately an expert at something, because years go by faster than you think, and you’ll be able to look back and see your progress. I struggled with everything when I started my major, except maybe singing. I mean, I couldn’t even read a bass clef, but now I’m composing music.”
Though many of Teuscher’s immediate plans are conditional upon COVID-19 considerations and protocol, she is currently slated for a leading role in the Hale Center Theatre’s summer production of “Million Dollar Quartet” before moving to Spain to pursue a master’s in contemporary performance at Berklee College of Music.
As Teuscher prepares for her BYU graduation this month, she offers advice for students who are just starting out in the School of Music.
“Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things you need to learn, and don’t be daunted by the people around you,” she said. “It’s important to let people succeed and to cheer other people on. When you first start school, it can feel like a big competition, but once you really meet the people sitting alongside you in your classes, you find the similarities between you and them. You realize that this isn’t one person versus another — you’ll only succeed by being a kind person and focusing on your own progress instead of comparing.”
Q&A WITH BRIGITTA TEUSCHER, BM ‘20
MUSIC | COMMERCIAL MUSIC
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“I wanted to be one of those zoo trainers that do the bird shows where they summon owls and falcons. I really like taking care of animals and exotic birds — I’ve had over 50 birds in my life. Right now I have a rose breasted cockatoo.”
What was your favorite class that you took at BYU?
“I really enjoyed Dr. Harker’s History of Jazz (MUSIC 308). It was the perfect combination of fascinating historical stories and good music. It was fun, but taken seriously at the same time. Dr. Harker is one of my favorite professors at BYU.”
Is there a specific work or practitioner in your field that has had a particular influence on you?
“This is kind of a clichéd answer for a jazz vocalist, but I’ve always been inspired by the virtuosity of Ella Fitzgerald and her skill in effortlessly improvising. She was a positive light for others, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to emulate in myself, to use jazz music to make people happy. On the other side of the coin, I look up to Billie Holiday, whose emotional introspection combined with an unusual voice has shown me the importance of telling a story through music and using your past experiences to reflect emotion through your voice.”
Do you have a hidden talent or a hobby outside of what you do for your major?
“I like to do a lot of different things — and some of them are a little weird. I was a ski instructor for a while, I train exotic birds, I ride a unicycle, I really love yoga and I like to bake.”
What is your favorite snack for between classes?
“The pumpkin cream cheese bread that they have in the vending machines. It’s so good, and it always hits the spot. That with BYU milk!”