Music Alumna Encourages Current Students
During an academic unit chapel, music faculty and students enjoyed reconnecting with alumna Lorraine Yant (’21). She shares the following about her graduate experience at Samford University and offers some advice for students who consider pursuing higher education.
In Fall of 2021, after receiving a graduate assistant scholarship (GA), Lorraine began her master’s degree program in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Samford University. In addition to her classes, she provides technique coaching for freshman and sophomore undergraduate students and substitute teaches Class Piano and Performance Lab. Elected as president of Samford’s MTNA Collegiate Chapter, her vision to support Samford music students in their pedagogical training and facilitate them with resources resulted in undertaking a project in rebuilding and digitalizing Samford’s pedagogy library, sponsoring workshops with nationally-renown pedagogues, and creating performing opportunities for pedagogy interns and their students. Her presentations Schenkerian Analysis for Beginners, Aphantasia, The Art of Listening, and The Pedagogical Literature of Stephen Heller showcase her dedication to the field of pedagogy. Nationally certified, Lorraine’s studio at Samford Academy of the Arts continues to grow along with her reputation as a piano instructor. In addition to helping direct summer music camps, she stays active as a BMMF, BMTA, and AMTA member judging at local festivals and competitions. Lorraine also maintains her own online private studio Musical Inspirations.
Reflecting on her years of study at MBU, Lorraine highlighted several classes that were strategic to her graduate work including harmony classes, literature classes, pedagogy classes, and music history classes. She advised students, “Get to know your composers and the music they wrote for your instrument; study harmony ‘till you know it like the back of your hand’; and challenge yourself to practice smarter—not harder—than the week before.” She stressed the importance of listening to professional recordings of your repertoire to hone musical skills. She also relayed the necessity for developing research and presentation skills as an essential tool for graduate study.
For those considering higher education, Lorraine gave a spoiler alert. “In some ways it’s easier than undergrad such as having more flexible time; however, in some ways it’s harder than undergrad with significantly increased stress loads, more responsibility, and more irons in the fire. But it’s worth it! You still have the benefits of being a student by learning and having mentors to go to for advice while exercising yourself in becoming a professional in your field!” Before applying to a school, Lorraine recommended visiting the campus and meeting future instructors. “Request a lesson with your future private teacher if possible and ask yourself, ‘Do I want their personality rubbing off on me every day?’” She concluded, “In order to be the best teacher for my own students, I must intentionally place myself in healthy, supportive relationships—including choosing my own teachers. That’s why I chose Maranatha, and that’s why I chose Samford.”
Lorraine shared her journey in overcoming expectations as a high achiever. Throughout her undergrad, she recalled feeling crushed when her performance on a piece, assignment, or project didn’t measure up to her own standards. She shared, “At college, I found myself constantly trying to live up to expectations whether they were my own, my teacher’s, my parents’, my friend’s, my church’s, the school’s, etc. I was always upset inside because every day I always disappointed myself in one or more things. One day, I flunked a music history test (not because I hadn’t studied), and I realized it was my pride convincing me that I could measure up to everyone’s expectations. I’ve since learned to tell myself, “Chill out. Remember you’re human. Get your thoughts off yourself. Let go of your expectations and what you think other people’s expectations are for you. Consider God’s expectations for you right now—to live by His grace and find comfort in the tokens of His goodness for you today.”
In considering the role of a music teacher and the power of influence, she shares one of her struggles as a teacher being agenda driven herself. “When I’m tired and exhausted, I find I quickly start to view my students as projects, shuffling them in and out so I can get home. Those are the moments when I learn to rely on God’s grace and allow His heart of compassion to remind me that I am teaching impressionable human beings who have a soul and need a teacher who is present with them, not the lesson agenda.” Lorraine’s passion for creating a lesson experience where students thrive wholistically prompted her research for her current thesis “Mentally Thriving in the Private Lesson” that interviews numerous teachers, explores the elements of the learning process, and discusses working with students who struggle with mental illness such as ADHD.
Lorraine closed by challenging students to create habits of self-learning, take advantage of opportunities, and be willing to acquire new skill sets “because you never know if God might be using those moments to open doors for greater influence. It’s just amazing to see what God can do when your heart is ready to follow his leading!”
—written by Jack Bovay