Portia Davis – Alumna Spotlight
Music Teacher, Jackson Public Schools
Assistant Collaborative Pianist, The Mississippi Chorus
Hometown: Mobile, AL
BM in Music, emphasis in Music Education, Keyboard Concentration (2013)
Portia Davis showed a love and interest in music at a young age. She began learning piano at the age of 10 and quickly added flute and singing to her arsenal of musical talents. She was heavily involved in pre-college music programs through the University of Houston and other universities in the surrounding area.
While earning her BM in Music with an emphasis in Music Education, Davis studied keyboard at UM under the teaching of Dr. Ian Hominick. She then attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she completed two Masters of Music: the first in Piano Pedagogy under Dr. Reid Alexander and Dr. William Heiles and the second in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying under Professor Dennis Helmrich. Ms. Davis has accompanied countless vocal and instrumental recitals and numerous opera productions and choral programs.
She now resides in Jackson, Mississippi, where she is the piano and written theory instructor at Power Academic and Performing Arts Complex. She continues to make music every day and looks forward to many more musical opportunities in her future.
When and why did you decide to study music?
I have always been interested in music. I attended many concerts and was in choir. In elementary school I was a competitive dancer; feeling the emotions in music through dance shaped me into the musician that I am today. My first piano teacher saw my passion for music even when I couldn’t see it. I began playing in public, and was soon competing in state and national competitions. By my senior year, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. At my audition at UM I visited with faculty and knew I had found my home away from home, a place that could allow me to express myself. Little did I know the impact that Ole Miss would have on me.
What were some significant accomplishments at UM?
As an honors student, I wrote my senior honors thesis on a comparison between Chinese opera and Western opera. I studied piano with Professor Hominick, who challenged me every week in lessons and prepared me for collegiate competitions and a very successful senior recital. I also had the opportunity to accompany voice and instrumental students, an experience that helped set my future path.
Tell us about your educational/career path since UM.
After graduation, I attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to earn a MA in Piano Pedagogy and a MA in Vocal Coaching & Accompanying. I then moved to Jackson, Mississippi, to teach piano and theory at the Power Academic and Performing Arts Complex. It is fun to see my students become well-rounded musicians. I use many skills that I learned at Ole Miss every day in my teaching.
Why study music at UM?
Undergraduate years can be sometimes overwhelming because big decisions are made. While it is true that UM is a large school, the department felt like home and my classmates and teachers felt like family. The faculty want to see their students succeed and will make your dreams a reality.