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Accomplished musician, teacher takes the baton at IUPUI Music Academy

August 30, 2016

Andrew Hisey, an accomplished musician and professional music teacher, has taken the baton at the IUPUI Music Academy, an outreach program of the Department of Music and Arts Technology.

Hisey has taught for 20 years at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, St. Olaf College and the University of St. Thomas. For several years, he has also been a senior examiner, editor and consultant with the Royal Conservatory in Toronto.

Andrew Hisey

Some might date his teaching career to 1993, when he received a doctorate in pedagogy and performance from the University of Michigan, becoming the first to receive a doctorate from that university with that particular focus.

But they would be wrong.

Hisey has actually been teaching since he was 12, when he began instructing children in his neighborhood and at his church how to play the piano -- at the request of their parents, who admired Hisey's playing.

"I've been teaching since then," Hisey said. "I first started to get serious about the teaching aspect when I was a grad student at the University of Michigan, where I did my master's and doctorate, learning to teach in both private and class settings."

The IUPUI Music Academy has three goals, Hisey said:

  • Provide high-quality music instruction to the community.
  • Offer instruction to anyone, regardless of any outside factors, working hard to minimize some of the barriers that traditionally go with music instruction, including the costs.
  • To be as open and eclectic as possible, providing cultural ownership and relevance for participants.

"That takes the shape of private lessons in piano, keyboards, voice, guitar, viola, cello, flute and saxophone," Hisey said. "And that's a flexible list. If there is a lot of interest in an area, we will hire a teacher."

The academy -- housed within the Department of Music and Arts Technology, where Hisey is a visiting associate professor -- also offers group experiences, including an adult string ensemble. "It is very focused on people getting together and having a good time making music with their string instruments," Hisey said.

Some of the string ensemble participants have had little instruction, or perhaps some long-ago lessons, and are looking to reconnect with their musical selves. "It's been going wonderfully," Hisey said. "Most are eager to have a positive musical experience, and we focus on providing that."

"There are also Harmony Road classes for children, which introduce musical concepts in a playful environment where the keyboard is a creative, rather than a performance, focus," Hisey said. Those classes are geared to young children, from 3-and-a-half to 5 or 6 years old, and are offered this fall on Saturdays. Registration is available online.

"Private lessons are individually geared, particularly with adults but even to some extent with kids, to the family's or child's goals," Hisey said. "We meet those goals by providing an instructor who is compatible and a plan of instruction that matches their wishes and works with the amount of time they have to give to it."

Music, like all arts, is both transformational and recreational, "but it's even more powerful when it's participatory," Hisey said. "Life-skill benefits of music study include finding one's creative voice and communicative powers, cultivating persistence, and developing problem-solving skills."

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