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June 5, 2018 > East Bay professor prepares music educators, inspires young musicians

East Bay professor prepares music educators, inspires young musicians

By Victor Carvellas

Though school music programs are generally healthy in the East Bay, maintaining opportunities and providing consistent encouragement is an ongoing process, requiring the talents and attention of educators from the pre-school to the university level.

Dr. Danielle Gaudry, Director of Bands at Cal State East Bay, prepares the next generation of music teachers with such classes as instrumental technique and orchestral conducting. Not content to simply wait for students to arrive at the music departmentÕs doors, Gaudry is an active participant in the musical life of the East Bay. ÒI try to create opportunities to connect with high school musicians,Ó says Gaudry.

That includes two festivals a year. The Instrumental Music Festival in the fall features about 100 young musicians nominated by their teachers for their talent and dedication. The other festival, which took place this past February, invites local high schools to perform for an adjudication panel. There are clinics and breakout sessions where students can choose to hear about topics of particular interest. The day closes with a performance of all the musicians alongside the Wind Symphony, an exciting experience not soon forgotten. ÒItÕs a great chance to get them on campus and to work with our different faculty members and experience some of the things our music department has to offer,Ó says Gaudry.

Gaudry began playing the organ around six years old and knew Òfrom an early age that music would be my path.Ó Along the way she picked up violin, electric bass, double bass, and percussion. Not content simply to perform, she decided to put all her skills and experience to use as a music educator, picking up degrees from McGill University, University of Toronto, Penn State, and the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts in wind conducting with a cognate in music education. Five years ago she came to CSUEB.

Though GaudryÕs passion for performance is evident in the fact she resurrected the once defunct university orchestra, she sees a music degree as a stepping stone to other channels besides performance. ÒWe get a lot of students here who want to teach or want to be performers, but there is more. Our job as professors is to provide them with options. There are many things you can do with a degree: we need arts administrators for professional and amateur organizations; you might be producer, a sound technician, or even an instrument repair specialist. Certainly we get students here who want to compose, and many have gone on to very successful careers doing all of those things. The reality is weÕre not all going to be the next Yo-Yo Ma.Ó

In the Information Age, the role of the university is changing. Students are not just absorbing information, but sharing it and shaping it collaboratively, and Gaudry understands the need to evolve. ÒI think our role is changing in some way,Ó she says. ÒLike many institutions with a historical component, we have to struggle to remain relevant.Ó One way to do that is to supplement the traditional content with up-to-date approaches to presenting and understanding music history.

Says Gaudry, ÒI think there are some masterpieces that can enrich our lives in ways that we donÕt know unless we are exposed to it, and as educators, part of our job is to expose our students to that; but by the same token I think as an institution we have to evolve to meet the needs of our students.

ÒOn our campus, for example, we have a library where you go and check out books, but soon weÕll have a new center that will revolutionize the concept of a library. ItÕs going to be more about meeting spaces where people can collaborate on things; weÕre going to have more emphasis on digital media rather than paper books; itÕs going to have access to all the different ways we consume information, because our students donÕt go to the library and check out a book when they can access things from all their personal devices.Ó

Two years ago, Gaudry conducted a joint performance of the CSUEB Wind Ensemble and the Youth Orchestra of Southern Alameda County, an organization under the direction Dr. Bill Harrington. Harrington also teaches at CSUEB and notes that at the last California Music Educators Conference, Gaudry conducted the California All Star Junior High School Band. Her appointment to the conductor position was the result of a vote taken by music educators across the state and is considered a high honor. ÒThatÕs the top,Ó says Harrington, ÒsheÕs hit the big time.Ó

HarringtonÕs biggest concern for the future of music education in the Bay Area is the explosive growth in charter schools. He acknowledges that on the academic front, they are a success story, but laments, Òthey have no music or sports programs.Ó In his opinion the schools are denying kids important life experiences, which, for some kids, are part of what keeps them coming to school at all. While it may seem odd for a music educator to draw parallels between music and sports, as Harrington says, ÒweÕre adrenaline junkies too.Ó More than that, however, is the importance of the social ritual, of live young performers feeling the thrill, the proud parents in the audience, the preservation of our musical culture.

Gaudry herself is hopeful about the future, given the push in recent years to prioritize arts in the schools. ÒI think some communities are very fortunate because the administrators take arts and music seriously. Actually, since IÕve been here, IÕve seen a push toward bringing music back to the elementary schools, particularly here in Hayward. Those programs then support whatÕs going on at the middle, and ultimately high school level.Ó

Today, music is everywhere, more accessible than ever. Will that change the way we appreciate and even teach music? ÒThat,Ó says Gaudry, Òwould be a good question to ask 10 years from now.Ó

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