Music senior wins Student Research Days award

Nathan Petsche
Nathan Petsche

Glenn Korff School of Music senior Nathan Petsche received an award from the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, Office of Research and Economic Development and Office of Undergraduate Research in conjunction with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Student Research Days in March.

Petsche, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance with minors in dance, musical theatre and musical technology, won $250 for his presentation titled “Musical Theatre Scenes—Constructing a Canon.” His research is focused on making musical theatre arts more accessible through the use of small-scale scenes from larger musicals.

“When I was e-mailed that I won an award for my research, my first reaction was shock,” Petsche said. “I honestly had no expectations of anything coming of this. Especially with how unorthodox my research is, I wasn’t quite sure how it would translate in a medium such as Research Days. However, being able to talk face-to-face with people about my work was one of the most validating moments of this entire endeavor. It was an incredible experience to be asked questions like, ‘Why isn’t this a thing already?’ Now winning this award, I feel further confirmation that this work is all going to be worth it.”

Petsche said it’s often overwhelming to ask brand new directors and performers to prepare a two or two-and-a-half hour show on their own, not to mention the financial investment required for mounting such a production.

“These musical theatre scenes are all 10 minutes or less, involve 3-6 performers and can be done with nothing more than a table and 6 chairs,” he said. “They are short, impactful and give opportunities for students and directors to experience this medium without the strain of a full production.”

This criteria was pulled and adapted from the musical theatre category of Large Group Speech in Iowa.

“When I came to Nebraska, I realized that only Iowa has this category, and by extension, only Iowa has access to this wonderful avenue of education,” Petsche said. “My research has served as a way to ‘spread the love,’ for lack of a better term.”

Petsche received guidance and support from William Shomos, the Richard H. Larson Distinguished Professor of Music and Director of Opera in the Glenn Korff School of Music.

“He actually was the one who called me up this summer to pitch the idea of doing a UCARE project on musical theatre as a supplement to my current education,” Petsche said. “Though all of the research is mine, Bill has served as an invaluable mentor for me this year.”

Shomos said Petsche’s research has been helpful.

“It gathers, in one place, a rich listing of musical theatre scenes that can be extracted for virtually any level of study,” he said. “The experiential phase of the project has also been quite successful, giving opportunity for aspiring student directors to stage various scenes with students who love to perform in the musical theatre genre.”

Petsche’s research is available at He also hosted a Musical Theatre Scenes Festival on May 5 that featured student directors and performers.

“This has allowed my research to already serve as a vehicle for musical theatre arts education in my own university,” Petsche said.