Educator Profile: Heather R. Buchman
We believe that the arts are essential to the quality of life and community in Central New York. Our mission to promote, support and celebrate arts and culture is the heart of all our programs and services.
We strive to engage with students at every level of education, from elementary to college and with educators and administrators to build a culturally engaged community. Arts education is a key component of several of our programs: Dasher's Magical Gift, Michael Harms Theatre Festival, DeFrancisco Young Artists Scholarship Program, STAR Training Program (Support for Teaching Artist Regional Training), and the AiHE Consortium (Arts in Higher Education). These programs, help ensure that arts education is given full support it deserves in central New York.
So in celebrating Arts Education Week, we would like to recognize some of the many people in our community who are dedicated to enriching the lives of students at all stages of their education.
Thank you to Americans for the Arts for hosting this national celebration of arts education, and thank you to all the educators who impact lives every day through the arts. We hope you enjoy learning about a few of our local educators and reflect on how teachers have impacted your own life. #BecauseOfArtsEd #ArtsEdWeek.
Our last educator profile is Heather R. Buchman, Professor of Music, Orchestra and Chamber Music Director and Chair of the Department of Music at Hamilton College. Heather is also involved in the Arts in Higher Education Consortium as well as a board member of CNY Arts. Learn more about the AIHE Training Program.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your current role in arts education?
My name is Heather Buchman and I'm Chair of the Music Department at Hamilton College. As department chair I'm responsible for handling everything from contracts for lesson instructors, managing budgets, and class schedules to thinking about policies and directions that will help us offer the highest quality opportunities to study and perform music, and position us to be a dynamic and innovative place to study music in the future. It's also very important to us to engage with the community through our Performing Arts series and to contribute to the cultural richness and vitality of the region. I also love directing the Hamilton College Orchestra and Brass Ensemble and coordinating our chamber music program.
2. What drew you to education?
I didn't see myself as an educator growing up – my focus was on performing. But as my life has gone in this direction, I've become seized with the sense that it's our collective turn now to preserve and transmit to others the gift that has been given to us. 'To whom much is given, much is expected.'
3. How do you think arts education can help students address current issues in our society?
The arts teach focus. That's clearly a huge issue today, with all the distractions of life we have now. They teach thinking in terms of priority, what's important. They teach precision. They can give us a space to develop our sensitivity and our humanity, our empathy. They teach us how to work and collaborate with others toward something greater, to strive to develop a shared vision. And it's vital to have a space that invites us TO create.
4. What is one way in which you keep your personal artistic practice fresh outside of the classroom?
The programs I've been able to conduct with organizations like Symphoria and the Society for New Music help me to grow artistically. I love performing on trombone whenever I can – whether through solo performance, the Hohenfels Trombone Quartet, or orchestral or other chamber work.
In the past few years I've been studying ballet, jazz/modern, and even a little tap! There is a huge connection and feedback loop between music and dance. And, very challenging, which is part of the appeal! There are other things I'd like to try – painting, composing – it's a question of time.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring young student interested in furthering his or her artistic career?
Learning your craft – mastering your instrument, learning the repertoire, theory, becoming the best musician you can be – will always be central. Take responsibility for what you want to create through your art – be versatile, keep your eyes open for inspiration and opportunity. Always keep learning. What's new is that for artists and musicians in the 21st century, technology is with us, and we need to figure out what new tools will help us in our creative work.
6. As part of National Arts in Education Week, we'd love it if you could share one story about how arts education has personally impacted your life!
I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to go to Interlochen (arts camp) for 5 summers. The moment I stepped off the bus that first summer, I simply knew in that moment I would be a musician. The energy of being around such talented young musicians, dancers, actors, and artists was so intense – both terrifying and inspiring. I remember vividly that first summer walking to my cabin after breakfast and hearing the top orchestra rehearsing floating through the woods. Just being in an environment like that is life changing. And so I try to create some version of that inspiration, a sense of what's out there and what's possible, in the environment I'm in #BecauseOfArtsEd.