Students get an uplifting message from Barbra Streisand

Laura Sherman with her music theory students prior to classes moving online last month. Photo courtesy of Laura Sherman
By Amanda M. Perez

Laura Sherman with her music theory students prior to classes moving online last month. Photo courtesy of Laura Sherman

Students get an uplifting message from Barbra Streisand

By Amanda M. Perez
Laura Sherman’s music theory class was elated and inspired after they received audio communication from an iconic legend.

When students logged on to Zoom for Laura Sherman’s online music theory class, they thought it was just an ordinary day. Little did they know the lecturer in the University of Miami Frost School of Music would surprise them with an audio message of encouragement from singing and acting legend Barbra Streisand.

“Barbra Streisand wants me to get out of bed in the morning!” was one student’s reaction. 

Jenna Robinson, a first-year musical theatre major, said she was in total shock when she listened to the message. 

“I’ve been a fan of her all my life and look up to her,” Robinson said. “Hearing these words of encouragement is incredible, and [she is] inspiring us to put our best work forward even during quarantine.” 

Sherman, who is Streisand’s touring harpist, said the idea to reach out to the singer came from her partner Chris Carlton, who is Streisand’s longtime sound designer.

 

“He took matters into his own hands and emailed her after I introduced him to my Zoom class,” Sherman explained. “Within a matter of hours, she replied to him with an audio message to share with the class.” 

According to Sherman, the best part of it all was to see her students’ reactions. They were completely surprised and uplifted by Streisand's generous gesture. 

“They really seemed so encouraged and comforted. I think all of us can benefit from reassurance right now during this uncertain and disruptive time,” she said. 

Robinson explained that it has been challenging to transition into online learning as a musical theatre major. But she is thankful for her incredibly accommodating teachers, including Sherman, who have made it more manageable. 

“We just have to keep working on our craft. I believe in life, you have to take in all of your experiences and use it to be a better actress for the future,” she noted. 

Sherman is continually trying to keep her music theory course as interactive as possible to ensure students stay engaged.

“I’ve revamped the entire class to make it feel like a community environment in spite of the fact that we’re all in separate places. It’s really important for them to keep a quality education with a little less pressure and a more creative approach,” she said. 

She is proud to say she has had 100 percent attendance since transitioning online. 

“We meet three times a week, and the students are from all over the country, living in different time zones,” said Sherman. “They have told me how they look forward to our classes. This keeps me inspired to keep providing them with an interactive community space that musical theatre students enjoy having.” 

Robinson said Sherman has been incredible. “We’re learning so much in her class and she’s so understanding about the circumstances we’re all living in,’’ she said. “We all feel comfortable in her class and are always ready to learn.”