I started out as a theatre major in a small private liberal arts university much like Mount Union. After one voice lesson, I fell in love with singing and changed majors. Performing led to teaching, which also fulfilled me. Teaching future music educators combines all of these things that I love to do.
Research in the Classroom
Because I did not have formal music lessons until college, I used my musical gift of a good ear to replicate music and perform it. I even made up a way to understand how the music goes by making up my own written symbols for the musical notation. This "invented notation" (notation that is created by the listener) became the central focus of my graduate research and continues to be something I advocate for in my methods classes. Learning proceeds from the known to the unknown, and we must learn to accept our students' myriad ways of knowing. We must let our students create their own notational symbols, accept their invented notations, and then lead them to an understanding of what real music notation looks like and how it works. Right now I am enjoying reviewing vocal pedagogy books and book proposals for a small publisher in California. It's like doing book reports again!
Benefits to a Small Campus Community
We are unique in that we really know our students and we are readily available to help all of them as a collective group. We are a village. I first started here in a part-time capacity. I visited campus, CV in hand, and walked into Cope Music Hall. Immediately I felt at home, comfortable, and realized the unique nature of the Department of Performing Arts - we are like a family. And I had not even met the Chair yet! When a full-time opportunity opened up, I was lucky to be considered and hired
Our music educators have a strong professional curriculum in place that prepares them fully to teach band, orchestra, general music, and choir. The entire music faculty works together and is tireless in helping each music student achieve a high level of teaching skill. When a student graduates and achieves licensure for teaching in the State of Ohio, we all rejoice. We also have a good number of fieldwork hours required in the degree, allowing the student to experience firsthand how the music classroom looks and feels.
Students are the Driving Force
Easily, the students make me the happiest. They are the reason I get out of my car in the parking lot behind the Giese and go into my office. Mount Union music students are special and so dedicated to their studies. They make me want to be a good teacher.