Singing with the best

CC music student trains with one of the world’s best


Centralia College music student Ruth Newkirk recently had the honor of participating in a master class taught by master voice teacher Robert Edwin.

Edwin, who trains classical singers, music and theater performers, rock and pop vocalists, child singers and pageant contestants, is a leading authority on contemporary commercial music. He travels around the US, Canada, the Bahamas and Australia leading master classes and workshops for aspiring vocalists.

When Ruth’s voice teacher, Dan Colgan, found out about Edwin’s class, he encouraged her to audition. To her joy, she was accepted. Colgan then helped Ruth prepare music for her session with Edwin.

On the day of the master class, Ruth, along with several other nervous and excited voice students and their teachers, met together with Edwin at Bellevue First Congregational Church. Unlike private lessons, these voice lessons were taught on a stage in front of the other students and voice teachers so that everyone in the room could benefit from Edwin’s expert teaching.

When it was her turn, Edwin worked with Ruth for about 20 minutes, helping her refine her skills and giving her tips and techniques that he has used with professionals.

“He worked with me a lot on making my consonants clearer. He also helped me tell the story of the song, expressing what the writer wanted the song to be about through inflection and emotion,” she described.

Ruth shares that she also learned new techniques from watching Edwin work with the other students, instruction that she found just as valuable as her own lesson.

Singing is nothing new to this Running Start graduate.

“I started singing with my family,” says Ruth with a smile. “My family is big on music.”

Ruth plays flute, violin, and piano, and sings soprano. She teaches a few voice students, tutors choir students at the college, and also teaches piano, violin, and flute to a few others. She herself played violin in the Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra for about 10 years and is currently playing percussion in the Lewis County Community Band. In addition, she is part of the Uptown Voices, a local group specializing in patriotic tunes sung in eight-part harmony. Ruth, who is number seven out of 10 children, continues to sing with her own family, who are well-known musicians in the area.

Ruth earned her associate degree in fine arts 2012 along with her high school diploma and is currently pursuing her general associate degree at Centralia College. After graduation, she plans to continue her passion for music by enrolling in a vocal program. Always looking for a challenge, Ruth says she is next considering singing opera.


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