It’s always the greatest of honors to be recognized by one’s peers. And it’s surely a privilege for me to introduce your IMTA Teacher of the Year for 2010. Let me first recount a bit of personal experience. Many years ago I was teaching a group of somewhat reluctant theory students. I was constantly on their tails, asking them to master the subtleties of chromatic voice leading or the long-range implications of remote-key relationships. The semester ended with the usual intensive flurry; the exams were graded; the student evaluations came in. My chair at the time complimented me on the positive evaluations from what she knew was a reluctant class. I told her I was pleasantly surprised and mentioned that one student had even written “This class was fun!” My chair snorted, “That’s not the point!” Being a somewhat contentious brat in my younger years, I shot back: well, I think that’s exactly the point … if they could have a good time while being subjected to a fairly rigorous approach, they just might have the motivation necessary to alter a bit in the future the way they perceive the important works of the repertoire. My chair responded, “But aren’t you the one who chides your piano students: if you’re having a good time in the practice room you must not be doing it correctly?!” Yes, that was me. And to this day, even after all these many decades of working with college students, I’m still searching for that balance of rigor and inspiration in my teaching: the toil and sweat to develop our craft on the one hand, the unearthly inspiration from the great masters of the past and present on the other — if we might only unlock their profoundest secrets.
Our IMTA Teacher of the Year for 2010, however, seems to have figured it all out: teaching, performing, service to the profession, effective role model for future generations. This person’s colleagues speak of tireless devotion to students and the institution. Former students write glowingly about the unending support, both personally and professionally. Our recipient “nurtured us as individuals, not only as pianists.”
Our honoree this year is an accomplished performer and sought-after collaborator, gearing concert programs to both younger and more mature audiences around the country. A recognized teacher of teachers, our recipient’s pedagogy courses are “refreshingly enlightening, thought-provoking, and encouraging,” with a “passion for pedagogy” that is contagious. A former student writes, “I loved the energy and enthusiasm … and the commitment to being an excellent teacher AND performer. This made me want to do the same.”
Our honoree this year has published widely on pedagogical topics, including sight reading and intermediate repertoire. A book on stylistic awareness for younger students is in the works. You will find the articles in Clavier, the American Music Teacher, and Keyboard Companion. Our recipient has presented conference sessions nationally and internationally, including the World Piano Pedagogy Conference, College Music Society, MTNA national conference, and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.
Our 2010 Teacher of the Year has made a lasting impact on HER home institution, with a commitment “that all students receive the best music education possible,” according to a colleague. She has spearheaded curricular reforms and developed a flourishing Master’s program in performance and pedagogy. Another colleague writes of “a real team player who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to every to every situation.” She offers thorough guidance to graduate assistants in group piano and serves as faculty advisor for the student MTNA chapter. In addition, she finds time to teach summers at the international festival in northern Indiana, serving as Piano Program Director since 2006.
Our recipient has served the profession tirelessly at the local, state, and national levels. She has served the IMTA Board with distinction, with a “terrific ability to speak clearly, take action, and get changes made” according to a fellow board member. Her leadership skills are well documented and known to us all. Indeed, you all know her as past president of IMTA. Please join me in recognizing a performer, pedagogue, leader, administrator, and persuasive advocate for the entire musical community: Dr. Lori Rhoden.