School Orchestra Teacher of the Year
In the middle of a lecture series in 1943, C.S. Lewis said, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” I believe that statement still rings true 80 years later.
The greatest desire I have for my students is that they will become productive, intelligent, relational, and kind members of our society. Each day, students come into the classroom with difficulties of their own. Whether it’s the desire for perfection, or the desire to feel loved. The desire for success, or the desire to be unique. The desire to observe, or the desire for loyalty and safety. The desire to escape pain, or the desire for justice. Or maybe it’s a desire for peace. Even though their years are few, every student comes with a special viewpoint on how they see the world.
At the high school level, the orchestra classroom provides an environment for students to use skills they’ve developed to better see and understand the world. My job is not to tear down what they’ve learned or negate the experiences they’ve had. My job is to water the areas that are dry and need tending to.
Through orchestral learning, students engage in a community of encouragement. We learn to build self-confidence through performance, while building up others in support. We accept that not every performance will be perfect but strive for the best that we are able to achieve. We settle for nothing less than what our hard work can earn. We develop the necessary skills of being on time, setting goals, prioritizing, and tolerating others who are different than ourselves. We learn the value of kind relationships and work together to build a tradition of excellence in our musicianship.
Through this model of excellence in musicianship, I’ve had the privilege to see the Putnam City High School Orchestra program achieve great things. In 2018, the Symphony Orchestra earned its first Sweepstakes award in over 15 years. In 2019, the orchestras of Putnam City traveled to England to participate in the London New Year’s Day parade and gala concert series. Earlier this year, the Symphony Orchestra had the honor and privilege to perform as one of the OkMEA Honor groups for the January conference.
It can be easy to think that one person achieves success on their own, but it’s the kindness, encouragement, and support that I received from various teachers when I was a student that paved the way for me. Because people like Robyn Hilger, Sarah Grote, Dawn Thrailkill, Peter Markes, and John Schimek invested in and encouraged me, I now have the opportunity to do the same for others. Today, I’m so thankful for the people who continue to irrigate the deserts of my life. People like Jeremy Scott, Levi Dobrinski, Samantha Sy, Haley Hanzel, Marissa Crowson, and so many others.
I’m incredibly grateful for this recognition and wouldn’t be half the teacher I am today without the support of the teachers of Oklahoma. I have nothing but humble gratitude for each of you.
Dr. Tess Remy Schumacher
Collegiate String Teacher of the Year
Thank you, Oklahoma Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, for the award “Collegiate Teacher of the Year.” I feel honored and humbled amongst so many outstanding pedagogues!
I dedicate my statement to my own teachers and students who continue to have such a deep impact on my musical and personal life.
I am grateful to my mentors who encouraged me to play concerts and instilled a passion for performing at a very early age, in particular Jacqueline Du Pre, Boris Pergamenschikow, Siegfried Palm, Lynn Harrell, the Amadeus Quartet and Eleonore Schoenfeld. To this day, I treasure all their diverse technical advice for fingerings and bowings, and their musical suggestions. I continue to share these with all my students, and I am very proud that they have developed into accomplished and passionate pedagogues and performers in Oklahoma, surrounding states and overseas, in China, Thailand and Montenegro.
I understood early on that there is “no pain, no gain”; the demands of preparing for concerts and the nervousness before the performances seemed to be the price for exciting opportunities to perform for an audience. Yearly competitions added another very challenging component to my early life and career. I always rejected the idea of “competing against fellow musicians”. However, a musical career, scholarships and concerts are almost impossible without participating on the draining competition life.
During these early years, my hero and model had always been the famous British Cellist, Jacqueline Du Pre. Her cello seemed to sing with an unlimited amount of expressions and feelings. It belongs to one of my great musical fortunes that she accepted me as her last student in London after hearing me play.
The time studying with her was one of the most transformational experiences in my life. I understood that each person has a choice which attitude and road to take, no matter how brutally fate may intervene, (Jacqueline was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis). Jacqueline’s monumental passion for music and teaching, her love for music and people, fulfilled her life, and it has been my desire to share this with my own students.
I believe that students need to have a good professional foundation. They need to learn their craft and the material of their individual discipline. But only the emotional and psychological preparedness for challenge, a positive attitude- no matter what life “throws at you"- and sacrifices lead to growth and a fulfilling life.
Research, especially in the area of historical performance practice, has always been a passion of mine. In 2010, I had the unique opportunity to be a Visiting Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. This experience ultimately lead into my establishment of the UCO Brisch Center for Historical Performance together with my colleague Dr. Ted Honea.
I have been excited about the successful research of my students who have presented and performed as specialists in historical performance practice and contemporary music projects. My 28 research assistants to date have participated on most of my 21 published CD recordings.
I look forward to continue seeing my former, current and future students grow and lead happy and successful lives. I will always be eternally grateful that they allow me to share my passion for music and life with them and be a part of their journey.
ASTA-OK 2020 School Orchestra Teacher of the Year
As I reflect on my teaching philosophy, I realize I have many ideas surrounding the art of teaching--and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that none of these ideas are my own! All of these teaching ideas belong to so many of the awesome teachers who have encouraged me and helped me become the teacher I am today.
When I was a young teacher, I never asked my incredibly knowledgeable teachers any questions! I thought if I did, people would think I didn’t know what I was doing. I so wish that I would have asked them for help. Instead, I burnt myself out fast and thought I would never teach again. Obviously, I eventually made my way back to teaching and decided not to do it on my own. The Oklahoma orchestra teaching world is an amazing community unlike any other! We help each other and make sure everyone is successful! However, we do need to know how to help and when it is welcome-- to those string teachers just starting out, never be afraid to ask questions!
A belief of mine, and I know it seems so simple and a bit cheesy---if your students see your passion for your subject area and your compassion for them, they will work hard for you! You will be their favorite teacher and your class will be their favorite subject! Challenge them to work hard and know that you are not only working for them, but with them as well! Many of your students may not grow up to be professional musicians, but they will develop a love for music and great memories of the community built in your class!
I would love to thank the Oklahoma Chapter of the American String Teachers Association for awarding me this great honor! I love being a part of this amazing group of musicians! Thank you to the teachers who showed me their passion for music and challenged to be the person I am today-- especially Dawn Thrailkill, Anne Guevara and Tess Remy Schumacher! I think sometimes it is so easy for us teachers in everyday life to forget the impact that we have on our students---that you are changing lives--and these ladies, along with so many more, have changed mine! Lastly, thank you so much to the community of school orchestra teachers who pull together and help each other to make our state’s orchestra programs the best around!
ASTA-OK 2020 Collegiate Teacher of the Year
I believe in empowering students to engage in music-making as not just a means to an end, in terms of a career, a degree or a performance, but as a life-long, continually evolving forum for discovering how they process information, how they experience the world, and how they express their thoughts and feelings about what they encounter. While practicing and performing challenge even the most motivated of musicians at times, we work to find ways to keep it a flexible process that responds to the musical and personal needs of the student. Music does not exist in a vacuum, so I work with my students to integrate their musical goals into the fabric of their lives beyond the practice room.
I believe that my students already know best how to teach themselves but might not be mindful of what stands in the way of accessing this inherent wisdom. My role is to ask more questions than I answer, inspiring my students to own the process of learning new skills and concepts. If I do my job properly, the student should become their own best teacher. As their professor, I provide a basic structure to the teacher/student relationship: I help guide students in terms of repertoire sequencing and technique development. More importantly, I encourage students to define their own goals and to be involved meaningfully in crafting the direction of their undergraduate education. For graduate students, I serve as a career-coach as much as a violin instructor. Together, we shape the course of their graduate work based upon their career aspirations, as well as their short-term musical goals.
In recent years, I have become interested in mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) and how to apply these to string pedagogy in the studio and classroom, as well as how they might foster a wellness-supportive teaching and learning environment. In 2020, I completed certification through the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Wellness and Pedagogy and now enjoy working with students in applying mindfulness concepts to their performance, practice and everyday life. In addition, I have been active in researching the intersection of contemplative practices, creativity and issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in tertiary education. I have found that the non-judgmental, present-centered nature of mindful inquiry provides a framework within which to interact with my students in a manner that supports compassion, curiosity and the nurturing of creativity in our relationship.
ASTA-OK 2020 Private Studio Teacher of the Year
It has now been almost ten years since together with my husband, Dustin Jones, I founded the Oklahoma Conservatory of Music. During this time, we grew from ten students and a team of three teachers to about 140 students and a team of 11 teachers. I am incredibly grateful to be surrounded and inspired by a group of such incredible artists and pedagogues.
Over those years, our students have been admitted to and received generous music scholarships to universities across Oklahoma and Texas. My cello students have consistently placed top chairs at Oklahoma All-State Orchestra. They have also received prizes at numerous competitions and participated in various summer music festivals, both in the United States and Europe. Cultivating excellence in music performance has always been one of my main goals at OCM. I strive to teach my students in the best way I can and direct the music school in a way that elevates our teachers, students, and parents.
I have always been torn in my career. It takes a substantial time commitment to teaching, running day to-day operations, as well as learning how to be a better pedagogue. At the same time, being a musician means loving performance and making music. I try to never let go of this love for performing and creativity. Performances and creative projects are also time-consuming, but I think they are very important in maintaining sanity for a musician, who is devoted to both music making and teaching. And it is also very inspiring and important for students to see their teachers perform and create.
The life of a musician/teacher is very demanding, but it is also extremely rewarding. I am grateful to the fellow OK ASTA members and happy to receive the Private Studio Teacher of the Year award.
Meryl Geib was nominated by
Teacher of the Year
It is an unexpected honor to receive this award, but very appreciated! Thank you to all my ASTA mentors and colleagues for your help through the years!
Teacher of the Year
Scott Jackson was nominated by Angela Ruiz of Enid, OK
Scott Jackson, director of the Stillwater Public Schools Orchestra Program since 2002, is originally from Enid, Oklahoma where he began studying the cello with Daphne Dougherty in 6th grade. In 2001 Mr. Jackson received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Oklahoma State University. His cello teachers at OSU included Evan Tonsing, Larry Stomberg, and Jeffery Lastrapes. He also studied conducting with Joseph P. Missal, Richard Prior, and Douglas Droste. In May of 2008, Scott Jackson received a Master's degree in Cello Pedagogy and Performance from OSU.
As director of the Stillwater Orchestra Program, Mr. Jackson instructs grades 8-12 at the junior high and high school. The four performing groups which make up this area of Stillwater’s Orchestra program regularly earn superior ratings at OSSAA Orchestra Contests. The SHS Orchestra has qualified for sweepstakes in 11 of the last 15 years, and they have earned superior ratings at every Fall String Orchestra Contest since inception.
Mr. Jackson frequently serves as a faculty member/guest conductor for music camps and youth honor orchestras in Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas region.
Mr. Jackson maintains membership in the National Association for Music Education and the American String Teacher Association. During the 2008 – 2009 school year Mr. Jackson served as chairman of the Oklahoma Music Education Association All-State Orchestra, and from 2011-2013 Mr. Jackson served as the Orchestra Area Vice- President for the OMEA.
Teacher of the Year
Dr. Morris was nominated for this award by ASTA-OK career member and Elizabeth Green award-recipient, Anne Guevara. He received the award at the Oklahoma Music Educators Association Fall Conference in October 2016 at Oklahoma City University.
Carl Flesch commented in his landmark work on violin playing that it was not his aim to teach a student how to play the violin, but rather to give the student a thorough knowledge of how violin playing works so that with time and the aid of a good teacher, the student can become his own best teacher. With this philosophy always near in mind, Ralph Morris, D.M.A., began teaching violin, viola and string pedagogy at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1991 and later began serving as director the UCO Symphony Orchestra in 1995.
In keeping the idea to provide a thorough knowledge of how violin playing works, Morris identifies three aspects of string playing to each of his students, technique, interpretation with expressiveness, and performing, always emphasizing that while these elements are distinct in nature, they ultimately construct one whole.
Under Morris’s tutelage and teaching philosophy, numerous UCO string students have become successful public school teachers in Oklahoma as well as nationwide. Others hold tenured positions as university professors. At the high school level, his students have had success in the OMEA All-State Orchestra, at the Quartz Mountain Summer Arts Institute, and at the Buttram String Competition, with students serving as principal players and winner in all the above venues.
“I am honored to be recognized by the fine group of string teachers we have here in Oklahoma,” said Morris. “I will also always be grateful for the training of my own teachers, who invested so much in my life and gave me the opportunity to develop as both a teacher and performer working locally and internationally.” It is Morris’s aim to share the same experiences I was afforded with his students.
Dorothy Hays retired in May, 2002, after completing 29 years of making stringed music, from the Putnam City School District. Though responsible at times for teaching stringed instruments to students in Kindergarten through Grade 12, her focus was being the orchestra director at Central Junior High/Middle School (now Capps Middle School) for 25 years. Since her retirement from public school teaching, Dorothy was the Master Teacher with the Sooner String Project at the University of Oklahoma from 2002 to 2005.
Dorothy is currently teaching and coordinating adult beginning violin, viola and cello classes called “Be the Orchestra” as an outreach program for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. From these classes, the Society of Strings, a string orchestra for adults, was organized. With new beginners graduating from “Be the Orchestra” every March, a second, less advanced orchestra, was begun with Dorothy as the director and John Schimek was brought in to direct Society of Strings. These outreach programs for the Philharmonic have allowed Mrs. Hays to continue to teach, encourage, and help these adults, who possess a great desire to learn to play a stringed instrument.
Mrs. Hays has been a member of the cello section in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic since 1989.