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Categories:  Faculty, Students

Teaching is a song when performed with energy, enthusiasm

“For 26 years, my life has been all about international choral music,” says Michael J. Anderson. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

2013 Silver Circle Award

Since 1966, the Silver Circle has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. What makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

 

Michael J. Anderson
Director of choral & vocal studies
College of Architecture & the Arts

 

When Michael J. Anderson began teaching choral studies at UIC 22 years ago, there were seven students in the choir.

“And half of them couldn’t read music,” he recalls.

He established the graduate-level Chamber Choir, the all-level University Choir and the Women’s Choir, the last because many more women than men wanted to sing.

Later, he required that all choir members learn to read music, including the 60 to 70 percent who are not music majors.

But the greatest broadening effect of Anderson’s teaching may be his international perspective. He makes six or seven international trips a year to take part in choral symposiums and festivals.

As president of the International Federation for Choral Music, Anderson is responsible for a world symposium every three years. He has conducted, lectured and adjudicated choirs across the United States and in Sweden, France, Colombia, Hong Kong, Israel, China, Japan, Korea, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

“For 26 years, my life has been all about international choral music. I see fabulous choirs. I come back telling my students, ‘I need you to be better, right now,'” he says, only half-joking.

Anderson says the international outlook gives his students a better appreciation of other cultures, travel and being able to deal with people anywhere. He returns with bundles of CDs that demonstrate “attention to detail, tone, the correct approach to the music.”

“It changes my attitude, which in turn changes their attitudes,” he says. “As worldly as our students are, they always enjoy hearing about these things.”

Anderson, a former chair of his department, advises other educators to “bring your energy and enthusiasm. Bring your competence, because students will challenge you. Never give up.

“And enjoy it.”

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