Spotlight on the Faculty, Part 1

"Know the Score" is the official blog of the Luther College Music Department. Students, faculty, and staff provide content on music tours, concerts, recitals and scholarship happening on and away from Luther's Decorah, Iowa campus.

Here at Luther it's no secret that we have outstanding music faculty. We can read about their accomplishments in their web biographies, listen to their great recordings, and give standing ovations at their recitals, but because we can't take weekly lessons from ALL of them we miss out on personal thoughts and practical advice that might not make the concert program.

Therefore, in anticipation of the start of the 2013-2014 academic year we did a little Q & A with some of our studio faculty on the smaller details of being professional musicians and educators as they look forward to the coming year.

Du Huang, Kylie Toomer, and Benjamin Yates are the focus of this first installment and stay tuned for more to come. 

Du Huang DU HUANG - Associate Professor of Music 

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

A: I am most curious about what kind of new students will be part of my piano studio and in my class piano lab. 

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: I am looking forward to rehearsing and performing the Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor with our own Luther College Symphony Orchestra this November.

Q: List your top three practice strategies?

A: Don't crowd your calendar too much; maintain a clear practice plan from day to day; be patient and be determined.

Q: Favorite place you've ever performed?

A: I like the fact performing takes me to all kinds of places in Asia, Europe, and many states in this country.  I remember fondly playing in Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall for the first time in 2000; recording in IPTV studio (with my wife and piano duo partner, Xiao Hu); and performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Luther College Symphony Orchestra in Vienna's Konzerthaus. 

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: I would like to perform and connect with audiences wherever life takes me.

Learn more about Du Huang

 

Kylie ToomerKYLIE TOOMER – Alumni Guest Lecturer in Music 

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

A: I am most interested in seeing how my studio of first-years will adjust to life as sophomores.  They have a year of solid technique formed, and I look forward to seeing their progress continue!  

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: Singing Mimì in La Bohème with my colleagues on a faculty recital this spring.

Q: List your top three practice strategies?

A: Begin with the text!  It was written before the music!  Knowing what you are saying and how to properly inflect in another language is paramount.  Would one say in English, "THE sky is blue TOday"?  Probably not.  Now try saying this in Italian, German, and French. Most save this step for last, but I encourage to begin dissecting the text right away.  

Know when enough is enough.  Sure, I love singing, but knowing when to stop practicing for the day is important for my vocal health.  Singers cannot practice hours upon hours like other instruments.  Your vocal folds will tell you when they are tired, so listen!

Practice your vocalises! They are so much more than scales and melodies! Vocalises will help in learning to navigate your voice from top to bottom, allow for more consistency in vowels, connection to breath, etc. They are a priceless tool for singers! One wouldn't run a marathon without first warming up--the same applies to the voice.  

Q: Favorite place you've performed?

A: Salzburg, Austria. Close second: Czech Republic.

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: Hogwarts.  But in all seriousness, I love to perform anywhere! No specific place, just as long as I am singing.

Learn more about Kylie Toomer

 

Benjamin Yates BENJAMIN YATES – Adjunct Faculty in Music

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2013-2014 school year?

This year, like most years, is jam packed with music making on campus. Nothing is more exciting to me than watching ensembles and groups start to appear in the first week of classes. Students return to campus with improvements made over the summer and they are hungry to make music!

Q: What piece are you most looking forward to personally working on this school year?

A: My favorite works are typically those that are not easy to get through when the ensemble first reads them. The group will struggle for a few rehearsals, and typically there will be a rehearsal when everything works! As an ensemble coach, conductor, AND performer, that's the best feeling that can come from preparing a concert!

Q: List your top three practice strategies?

A: Make a practice session plan (and follow it!)

Practice a short section

Practice SLOW

Reflect on the session and make a plan for the next!

Q: Favorite place you've ever performed?

A: Orchestra Hall, Chicago (home of great brass performances!) AND the gazebo at Water Street Park, Decorah!

Q: Place where you'd love to perform someday (real or imagined)?

A: With the Wiener Philharmoniker at Musikverein Hall, Vienna!

Learn more about Benjamin Yates