Faculty in Action

Marion Smith

"Eckerd is better because of its students!"

Marion Smith
Quick Facts

B.M., Xavier University of Louisiana
M.A., Washington State University
Ph.D., Washington University – St. Louis

Classes I'm teaching this year: Tonal Music Theory; Renaissance and Baroque Music History; Eckerd Concert Choir; Eckerd Ringers

Areas of expertise:Choral Music Performance Practices; Conducting; Handbell Ensemble techniques; Music History – Renaissance, Baroque and Romantic

Current research or projects: Developing a new course – Artistic Responses to World Tragedies (A working title); Forming a new vocal ensemble for SSAA voices; Planning the choirs next international tour and performance at Carnegie Hall; Participation in the Berkshire Choral Festival performance of "Vespers of 1610," by Claudio Monteverdi

Q & A
Why did you decide to become a college professor?

From a very young age I knew that I wanted to be a music teacher. When I began college study my goal was to become a music therapist. I quickly discovered that that was not for me. As a singer in the University Chorus, Concert Choir and Opera Workshop, I developed a love of all types of vocal music. After observing me in a conducting class, a professor suggested that I should pursue a career as a choral conductor and encouraged me to do advanced study. As a graduate teaching assistant I had the opportunity to teach several courses and conduct one of the choral ensembles. I knew this was for me!

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Eckerd?

Several things come to mind, but the ones that are most important to me are: the ability to be innovative and try new things, having a very supportive administration that acknowledges the values of all students having the opportunity to participate in the arts.

How would you describe Eckerd students?

In the Concert Choir and Eckerd Ringers, I have the opportunity to see a wide range of Eckerd students. With majors ranging from Creative Writing to Marine Biology, many different descriptions emerge: quiet/introspective, explorers, dynamic/leaders, volunteers, curious/questioning, adventurous, ability to look at things in new ways.

What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college?

I think Eckerd is so special because of the people that make up the college: students, faculty, administration and staff. Yes, we are located in a beautiful part of the country and we have excellent academic programs, wonderful opportunities for study abroad, a great waterfront program and of course, a wonderful music program. But, none of these would mean a thing without all of the people who invest so much of themselves into making the college a great place to study and work.

What is the best thing a student has ever said in your class?

I did not get the grade I wanted, but, I learned more than I ever thought I would.

How do you describe your teaching style?

In my theory and music history courses I use a combination of styles: lecturer, discussion leader, students leading discussions and sharing musical examples on the chalk board. In ensemble rehearsals, students would probably say that I am a bit of a dictator. While there might be a bit of truth in that, I would like to think of myself as being a benevolent one! My students know that their best interest is always at the heart of what I do.

How do you encourage your students to ThinkOUTside?

By asking them to not put limitations on themselves and look beyond today.  Expect more – especially of themselves!

What else should we know about you or what else would you like to share?

My career at Eckerd College has been fantastic and I look forward to more opportunities to help students realize their musical talents as music majors, minors or active participants.

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