Visiting prof helps develop programs for Westminster

By Emily Klingman

Looking to create even more successful students, Rider has invested in strengthening its popular music studies program.

Timothy Brent, a visiting professor of music, came to campus in the Fall of 2016 to help develop the program. He will help the Westminster College of the Arts create three brand new bachelor of arts in popular music studies degrees for performance, songwriting and music production. Brent is currently directing two vocal jazz ensembles he created, in addition to teaching courses on song writing and basic music theory. He also accompanies musical theater students when needed.

As a professor, Brent finds himself most challenged by his goal to create successful students. He wants to make sure each and every student he works with does more than well within their field. Since being here, Brent feels that the students he has worked with have grown a lot.

“I never feel good when a student is not able to succeed and I do everything in my power to make sure they do,” he said. “Music students are unlike many other students on campus because they have known exactly what they are most passionate about for a long time, and now they are able to pursue their dreams and make them reality.”

The energy from students on campus is one of Brent’s favorite parts of being at Rider.

“They are so incredibly passionate, driven and focused that it makes my job very exciting and rewarding,” he said. “Every day I come to campus, I know that I will have the chance help at least one student have that ‘light bulb moment’ when they learn a new concept or are able to perform something they weren’t able to before.”

It amazes him how fine and performing arts students are driven to improve themselves and be better musicians and performers. Brent said that he has to “consistently challenge them to think in different ways, to allow their creativity and originality to flourish and develop.”

As a member of Rider’s faculty, Brent hopes to continue his own educational journey, believing it is important that he never stops learning.

“I hope to continue to learn new and innovative ways to help students develop as musicians, performers and global citizens who are passionate about creating a world where the musical arts make positive impacts in people’s lives,” said Brent.

Stephen Allen, professor of music studies, has been “delighted” to welcome and work with Brent at Rider.

“Brent’s work with his choirs and my work with brass bands have much in common,” said Allen. “We have bonded closely as colleagues in our like-mindedness [in directing].”

Allen has also been “greatly impressed” with Brent’s role as a teacher and mentor for his students. Particularly, Allen is moved by how Brent uses his own performing experiences as tools, citing a love for Brent’s new solo CD as an example.

“He has had truly outstanding results already, he has been securing in his public performances, both as a solo artist and with his Rider choirs,” said Allen. “This is the age of Pentatonix, and a resurgent public interest in jazz and pop choirs. It is perfect timing to have Brent as the newest addition to our Popular Music Studies BA program here at Rider.”

As for Brent, he says that, “to be able to teach something, one must first have a mastery of that subject.”

“Teaching has allowed me to explore, in the greatest detail, the subjects and the material for the courses I teach so that I am intimately familiar with them,” said Brent. “My musicianship continues to develop every day as I continually practice my craft, learn from other people in my field as well as my colleagues, and strive to bring new material and innovative teaching techniques to the classroom.”


Originally printed in the 3/22/17 edition. 

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