Whether she's speaking or singing, Bridget Dolan McCormick has a joyful tone in her voice. Mother, teacher and musician, she has enjoyed numerous accomplishments in her life. And now, with the new role of recording artist under her belt, she's sharing her talents, gifts and experiences with others.
McCormick graduated from Fontbonne University in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in music. She had always studied music, encouraged by her parents who supported her in piano lessons and practice. When it came time for college, Fontbonne was a natural fit - close to home and financially viable, with a strong music program. The music program was phased out in 1997.
"My Fontbonne education has helped me tremendously," McCormick says. "Because of its small size, even a core class like English was intimate. (Music majors) were very fortunate; there were only seven or eight of us who graduated in my year. This offered a big advantage - it was almost like we were privately tutored."
After graduation, McCormick taught at Ursuline Academy for four years, then put her career on hold to raise five children. She continued singing and playing piano, often at mass in local parishes, and went back to work in 2000, first as a children's liturgist and then teaching music at various Catholic grade schools in the area. She is currently the music teacher in her own parish - St. Clare of Assisi in Ellisville, Mo.
"Music is such a good outlet. I hope kids come into my room and ‘whew' - breathe out," McCormick laughs. "When they come in, I want the environment to be comfortable. I want them to enjoy the beauty of music."
McCormick believes that everyone should be able to appreciate and take pleasure in music. Throughout her life, especially during times of significant meaning - her first child's birth, her grandmother's death - she has written music and lyrics. Then last year, someone suggested that she record her music, if only to leave her children with the legacy of their mother's melodious gift.
Admitting that it had always been a dream to record her own album, she found a recording studio and laid down six initial tracks. These first few songs, she said, were "OK," utilizing only a keyboard, her own vocals and the vocals of another St. Louis singer, Barb Sorel. She spent early 2008 improving tracks, adding new songs, bringing in a male vocalist and including drums in the mix.
McCormick describes the resulting album as "contemporary Christian" - most of the songs have a religious or social justice context. Called "In the Silence of My Prayer," the album derives its inspiration from religious and Biblical stories, readings and even daily life, McCormick says. The 11 tracks range from the contemplative ballad, "Was It Only a Dream," to the upbeat praise song, "Gloria."
"I hope it brings listeners peace and tranquility, McCormick says. "And if it's thought provoking - even if it makes them uncomfortable - that would be okay."
Her compact disk debuted in the summer of 2008 at a St. Clare of Assisi fundraiser for Fr. Brian Fischer, a St. Louis native and, at the time, a missionary in Bolivia. CD sales contributed to the nearly $100,000 raised through a combination of fundraising efforts that weekend - more than twice the funds needed for Fischer to build a chapel for the people of La Paz, Bolivia. And McCormick developed a new following for her music.
McCormick continues to write, play and teach music. Now that her children are older, she has found a little more time for herself, and maybe in the future, she says, she just might develop another CD.
"If you feel compelled to compose, teach, direct or play music, just work at it; hone your skills," she advises aspiring musicians. "The better you are, the more comfortable you are, and the more you enjoy what you're doing."
Editor's note: McCormick is looking for advice from fellow alums regarding marketing and distributing her efforts. She can be contacted at email@example.com. McCormick's "In the Silence of My Prayer" is available at www.bridgetmccormick.com.
Learn more about undergraduate degrees programs at Fontbonne.