Zachary Ross finds his passion in many different forms of musical and theatrical arts, and would find it hard to concentrate on only one. At ETSU, he enjoys the freedom to pursue all of these avenues without becoming “pigeonholed.”
Ross, a senior honors student from Johnson City, first got involved in music when he joined his middle school band. By age 15, he was playing drums and guitar – and writing original music – in bands with his friends.
His acting involvement also began around that same age, when he joined his high school theater group. Quickly hooked on acting, he auditioned for everything he could and eventually got a part in a musical, which he enjoyed so much that he joined the school choir.
During high school, Ross got to know several faculty members from ETSU’s Division of Theatre and Dance. Their encouragement, as well as a full scholarship through the Honors College, led Ross to come to ETSU as a theater major.
In addition to his acting, Ross joined the ETSU Chorale, and soon changed his major to vocal performance, keeping theater as his minor.
Because he loves and excels in numerous aspects of music, one of the things he loves most about ETSU is the freedom to participate in many different things.
“Here, I play piano in the jazz band, sing bass in the choir, sing in the vocal jazz ensemble Greyscale, and play guitar in the classical guitar ensemble. And, I study piano and composition.
“Those are so many things to do, but I wouldn’t want to axe any of them for scheduling reasons. The faculty’s willingness to work together and allow me to make scheduling adjustments has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had other places, where I would have been forced to choose one small aspect.”
Ross also appreciates the chances ETSU music students are given to showcase their own compositions in solo recitals or as featured numbers in major ensemble concerts, and to bring their own ideas on musical interpretation to the mix.
On top of his artistic endeavors at ETSU, Ross is a husband and father, and he works as a youth music director at Grace Fellowship Church and as a private music teacher at Trinity Art Center in Johnson City.
Spring 2014 will be a busy semester as Ross prepares to graduate in May. One of his primary projects will be his honors thesis – a song cycle for piano and soprano that will debut in April.
How does he do it all? Ross credits his organizational skills, faith and a positive attitude – all attributes that should help as he goes down any or all of the numerous avenues he’s interested in exploring after graduating, such as trying his hand at songwriting in Nashville or perhaps pursuing a master of education degree and teaching.
But one thing Ross would most like to do is achieve success as a performer, be it as a singer, accompanist, or member of his band, A Great Disaster, which includes several of his friends from ETSU.
“We write all of our own music, play throughout the region, do recordings, and post our music online,” he said. “We’ve only got one life, so we might as well try and make it work!”