It’s been a long time since the Dana School of Music had a full-time keyboard instructor.
“It has been at least 15 years,” said Caroline Oltmanns, chairwoman of the committee responsible for finding a new keyboard instructor. “There hasn’t been one since I’ve been here.”
That will change soon.
The Dana School of Music is interviewing three candidates for the position: Mary Lynne Bennett, Cicilia Yudha and Jennifer Muniz.
Bennett teaches at Fairmont State University. She attended Oberlin College and earned bachelor’s degrees in music education and biopsychology, and also received a master’s degree in piano pedagogy from West Chester University. Additionally, Bennett has a doctorate in piano pedagogy from the University of South Carolina.
Since earning her degrees, Bennett has spent the past nine years teaching group piano, applied piano and music education methods. What sets her apart from other teachers, she said, is that she embraces “the use of music technology where it can be useful in instruction.”
Yudha came to the U.S. from Indonesia at the age of 15. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music.
She is a candidate to receive her doctorate in musical arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Yudha said her ability to “care for [students’] well-being, the learning process and outcomes” is what separates her from others in the field.
“I care in which ways they can contribute positively to their communities,” she said.
Muniz was the final candidate to visit YSU. She teaches at Indiana University South Bend. Before IUSB, Muniz taught at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Notre Dame and Goshen College.
The size and prominence of YSU’s Dana School of Music attracted her, Muniz said.
She added that her versatility in the classroom is an asset.
“I also teach theory [and] aural skills, coach singers and instrumentalists, and perform solo and chamber concerts,” Muniz said.
The final three candidates were selected from a field of nearly 60 applicants.
The interview process includes teaching a class and holding a Q-and-A session with students.
“I think once [the students] have somebody who is as qualified as what we are thinking of hiring, they really will enjoy it,” Oltmanns said.
Dean La Salandra, a music education major, said he expects “understanding, empathy and patience” from the new teacher.
Bennett, the first to visit YSU, said she is excited about the opportunity to join the Dana School of Music.
“When I visited campus for the first time, I enjoyed meeting the music faculty [and] administrators. And all of the students were very helpful and enthusiastic. Everyone made me feel very welcome,” Bennett said.
But the friendly atmosphere isn’t what caught her attention, she added.
“Youngstown State is a mid-size school with a thriving school of music in a small-town setting. It seemed … right for me,” Bennett said.
Muniz agreed, noting that the “energy in Bliss Hall was vibrant and lively,” and that she would feel honored to be offered a position at YSU.
As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, Oltmanns said via email that a decision hadn’t been made yet.