Before arriving at Plattsburgh State, Lauren Mueller had never taken a voice lesson, but the current senior music major with a psychology minor has finally found her passion through the help of her friends and professors within the college’s music and theater department.
Playing flute for 10 years, Mueller found herself in the music department after graduating from high school in Poughkeepsie. With dreams of earning a degree in music therapy, she realized singing was a better fit for her career path, a voice is the largest instrument studied at PSUC.
“I was kinda welcomed with open arms,” Mueller said. “I expected it to be cliquey, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m really lucky to be where I am.”
Mueller said she wasn’t accepted to a lot of other schools when applying for college. But as the first daughter of her household to go to college, PSUC seemed like the perfect distance away from home.
“I kind of took a leap of faith,” she said.
Even though Mueller had a passion for music, she didn’t want to attend a music college with higher standards and even higher stakes.
“I didn’t want to be the music kid who practices five hours a day and does nothing else but make people feel bad about how talented they are compared to you,” Mueller said. “It’s just not my environment.”
Mueller soon discovered her comfort zone in the small, tight-knit environment of PSUC’s music department.
“In smaller groups, I’m more comfortable being myself, and that was just a coincidence [to find] in Plattsburgh, so I’m really lucky to be as accepted as I am, and it makes me feel welcome,” Mueller said.
PSUC music professor Daniel Gordon said Mueller took many of his courses, from intro-level lecture courses to upper-level seminars and ensembles.
“In all of them, she has been a standout,” Gordon said, referencing Mueller’s performance as principal flutist and volunteerism as ensemble librarian for the college’s symphonic band. “She was my right-hand person, and I could always depend upon her to get things done right.”
Outside of academics, Mueller experiments with even more music, learning guitar, saxophone, ukulele and piano in addition to flute and voice, which remains her favorite.
To her, her weaknesses included learning to memorize her music and transition from flute to singing so quickly, learning different skill-sets and sometimes different languages.
“It was hard to put down the flute,” Mueller said. “When I auditioned as a vocal student, that felt like a new Lauren. That felt like I was an adult with new passions. And it was scary, but also really exciting.”
While it was harder than she expected, Mueller said singing felt the most natural for her.
“Singing is just this shiny, new exciting thing,” she said.
Mueller was involved with PSUC’s student a capella group Minor Adjustments for a year and had roles in a few theater department productions, such as “The Drowsy Chaperone” last fall and “Babar and the Carnival of Animals” last spring. Currently, she remains props manager and secretary for the College Theatre Association, a Student Association club known for organizing the annual Student Night of One Act, or SNOOA.
Mueller became a psychology minor to tie into her music major, taking personality, cognitive psychology and abnormal and deviant behavior classes to broaden her perspectives for a career in music therapy.
“I want to take a balance of the psychology that works with the brain and the psychology that people think about,” she said.
Along with studying and practicing music, Mueller recently enjoys aerobics, like yoga and kickboxing, to de-stress.
For the past two years, she has sung to the elderly at CVPH Medical Center to earn a small paycheck, in addition to working at T.J. Maxx in Plattsburgh and Chuck E. Cheese back home.
“Before college, I didn’t really have too many hobbies besides music,” Mueller said. “I just like being around people. I’m super into socializing.”
PSUC junior environmental science major Andrew Guerci has been dating Mueller for a couple months now. He described her as hardworking, passionate and deeply genuine.
“A fun hobby of mine when we hear music together is to ask her what each little thing means with regard to music theory,” Guerci said. “I feel I have a lot to learn and a lot to gain by simply knowing Lauren.”
Guerci also advocates for Mueller’s academic success.
“Over her time at Plattsburgh, she has build long-lasting relationships with her professors
and peers and demonstrated a willingness to work hard in order to achieve those relationships,” Guerci said. “She doesn’t shy away from the opportunities presented to her.”
Mueller is expected to graduate in December and has already been accepted to the music therapy graduate program at SUNY New Paltz.
“It’s a little scary to be thinking about how close it’s coming,” Mueller said.
Knowing she has more schooling ahead of her, Mueller is confident in her goals for the future as a hard-worker and music lover, as she prepares for her upcoming senior recital this semester.
“I’m a singer, and it’s fun, and just because I’m a singer doesn’t mean I’m not anything else I want to be,” Mueller said. “I don’t want to do anything else except music.”