In many ways, a new look for the School of Music

Aug 26, 2011

A new organizational structure and a trio of new full-time faculty have energized the School of Music at Heidelberg. Last academic year, the former Music Department transitioned to a school, the third such department to do so. Dr. John E. Owen, serving as the director, said the changes have come in a wave. They are historic – and welcome.

“We have gone through years of no change at all and then it all happened at one time,” Owen said. “Only one faculty member is teaching the same courses as last year.”

The school is, for the first time, operating with a leadership team. Owen, who served as department chair from 1990-96, will also continue as Director of Bands. Two additional leadership positions have been created as part of the new administrative structure: Dr. Greg Ramsdell has been promoted to director of choral activities. Dr. Doug McConnell will serve as director of music technology and programs. All three will also maintain teaching responsibilities as well as their administrative and leadership assignments.

In addition, several new faculty members have joined the school.

Full-time faculty

  • Dr. Carol Dusdieker, assistant professor of voice and head of the vocal area, holds the DMA degree from Indiana University. She has considerable previous teaching experience, including serving as an adjunct professor at Heidelberg. Her master’s degree is also from Indiana, and her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa.
  • Dr. Paul Mayhew, assistant professor of chorus and music education, holds a Ph.D. in music education from Florida State University and has 17 years of public school teaching experience, most recently at Northwest Missouri State University. His previous degrees are from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University and additional work at the University of Iowa.
  •  Dr. I-Chen Yeh, assistant professor of piano, holds the DMA degree from Bowling Green State University, and served last year as Heidelberg’s collaborative pianist while also teaching at BGSU. I-Chen’s previous degrees are from the Oberlin Conservatory and the Eastman School of Music.

Part-time faculty

  • Thaddeus Archer has been appointed instructor of trumpet. He holds a master’s degree from Indiana University and is associate principal trumpet with the Toledo Symphony.
  • Scott Kretzer will serve as instructor of percussion and jazz combos. Scott has taught previously at Adrian College and Siena Heights College, as well as serving as percussion instructor and composer for several colleges and drum corps. He holds his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.
  • Renee Clair will serve as instructor of voice and collaborative pianist. She holds degrees from San Francisco State University and Bowling Green State University, and expects to complete her DMA from the University of Memphis this fall.

With the new faculty come a new set of skills, and Owen will match those strengths with the needs of the school and its students. Choral conductors, for example, will work with all of the ensembles “so we have a coherent, coordinated approach,” Owen said.

He also expects Heidelberg’s Preparatory Program – which offers lessons to aspiring musicians of all ages – to greatly expand. The scope of the program’s offerings will grow and it will be getting a new name later this fall.

Additionally, a number of the school’s major performances will have a new venue – Tiffin’s historic Ritz Theatre, which Owen believes will provide greater accessibility for music-going patrons. One such event, Handel’s Messiah, performed at Heidelberg for more than 100 years, will be revamped this year and will be staged at the Ritz.

Finally, Owen will develop ways to more fully integrate the school’s undergraduate programs and the graduate program in music education, which just completed its third year.

“Our graduate students have great ideas and great experiences. We want them to be more involved with our undergrads,” Owen said. “In our graduate courses, we’re dealing with specific philosophical and pedagogical issues that not even some undergrad faculty are exposed to.

“Our common philosophical approach across the board, with everyone pursuing the same ideas and goals, will ultimately benefit students,” he said.