For the 2012-2013 academic year, I'm taking a sabbatical. Many of you have asked what it is, what I'm doing, and want details. So, here 'tis.
First, a sabbatical is a period of time (usually either a semester or a year) that a full-time faculty member does not teach, but instead works intensely on an academic project. In the University of Wisconsin System, a sabbatical is not instantly granted; it is a privilege, must be applied for, and is awarded on a competitive basis based on the project proposed as well as on the merit of past academic contributions. Usually a full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for a sabbatical every seven years. The types of projects can vary widely between academic areas, but the main function is to be engaged in intensive study to become more effective teachers and scholars and enhance our service to the University. In addition, it is encouraged that the sabbatical project contributes to the professional growth of the proposer and demonstrates both scholarly activity and faculty renewal.
So, what is my project?
This year I'm finishing an oboe method that I've been working with for many years now. It is a beginner's method book with accompanying DVD. I'm also toying with making the book into an ibook/ebook that combines the book and video components into a cohesive whole. The book is intended to be useful for beginning players, those learning how to teach the oboe to young players (such as band directors and oboists teaching private lessons), and for advanced oboists who are looking for new pedagogical material that explains the basic elements of playing. There will be a large focus on the foundations of successful oboe playing, such as use of air, air support, embouchure, and hand position. I find that these core elements are sadly lacking in seemingly advanced students, so I want to create a book that teaches and builds these important elements from the very start. The musical examples used will be drawn from both the classical canon and folk traditions from around the world.
In addition to creating the book, I'm also piloting sections of the book with budding oboists in local/regional schools. I'm really excited to work first-hand with a number of young players! My goal is to reflect on the learning that the students are experiencing and modify the book as needed to enhance the learning outcomes of the book.
My project will take the entire academic year, so I will not be around campus very much. I'm already missing my great students very much!!!! However, the time away to work on a project without all of the usual whirlwind of classes/meetings/etc, etc will be a refreshing change. I'm mostly working on my project while in Eau Claire, so I'm still available to students by email and prospective students can still schedule times to meet with me/ have a lesson, etc and I'll be all geared up to again teach in the fall of 2013!
The UWEC oboe students this year will be expertly taught by oboist Dr. Carrie Vecchione. I'm so excited for the oboists to have the opportunity to study with such a fine musician and pedagogue!!!
So, for those of you who think I'm not teaching this year and am simply goofing off, I have to say that you're (mostly) sadly mistaken. I am daily putting in long hours on the book, but also enjoying lots of practice time and exploring new repertoire that look forward to sharing it with you on my return!
I hope to write frequently over the course of the year to keep you updated with goings on and new discoveries. Stay posted!
Oboe and out,