Peter and Kristin JutrasDecember 17, 2009
Eastman alums and artistic leaders, Peter and Kristin Jutras maintain active music careers in Athens, Georgia as chamber musicians, teachers and leaders in the field. The following interview showcases their successful and diverse professional work while communicating the importance of leadership skills for today’s artists.
What experiences at Eastman had the greatest impact on your lives as musicians?
Peter: There’s a lot from Eastman that helped shape my life. My studio teacher, Tony Caramia, was the person who got me excited about piano pedagogy, and Richard Grunow in the Music Ed department also sparked my interest in teaching. Coming from a small town, it was eye-opening to be around so many fantastic musicians. They helped me grow as a musician and challenge myself to do better, and that was important. Everything you did had to be your best, and that was good training. There are so many from our (’94) class that have gone on to have successful careers; it really was a special group to be with.
Kristin: Well, this is a funny question for me because Eastman really IS what shaped my career – I never studied anywhere else! I started in the Preparatory Department when I was 4 and continued until I finished my Masters degree at 25! I have always felt that the training I received at Eastman could not have been matched elsewhere. I was surrounded by the incomparable musicianship of the faculty in my lessons with Zvi Zeitlin, quartet coachings with the Cleveland Quartet, and was led by David Effron in ESSO and Philharmonia orchestras. All of these played major roles in my training and prepared me well for a successful career.
How has leadership played a role in your careers and how important is this for Eastman students?
Peter: In today’s world leadership is almost required if you want to have success. Unfortunately, the world is not going to come to you; you are going to have to take initiative and bring your music to the world, through performing, education, writing, production, etc. There’s so much media and information to compete with, we have to find ways to stand out. More often than not this means taking control of your own situation and guiding your own career path. Without leadership, you won’t get the concerts, grants, publicity, and other opportunities you need to shine. Whether you are leading students, fellow musicians, or just leading yourself, you’ve got to be active in pursuing your goals. In my career I’ve had to take charge of a number of situations, including starting a program of piano classes for adults at Southern Methodist University, beginning a 60-piece fourth-grade band, opening my own teaching studio, and taking control of Keyboard Companion (now Clavier Companion) magazine.
Kristin: Leadership skills are essential for a musician. Most of us leave college and expect to go into the world to perform, teach, or conduct research. As the competition becomes tougher, and jobs become scarcer, musicians need to have leadership skills and vision to create their own jobs and to promote themselves. Even beginning a successful private teaching studio utilizes leadership skills.
You also never know what twists and turns your life will take. I began my career playing in symphony orchestras and thought I had found a career I would keep for the rest of my life. However, my family life got to a point where that was no longer the best fit. I didn’t know what I was going to do next but we decided it was time for my husband to pursue an academic position and that led us to the University of Georgia. Athens, GA doesn’t have a major symphony orchestra and I didn’t want to drive to Atlanta everyday, so I switched the emphasis of my career to teaching. I became the Director of the Community Music School at UGA where leadership is my primary responsibility. I never would have imagined myself in this type of a position, yet here I am and I am really enjoying it!
College students need opportunities to tackle leadership roles. The Institute for Music Leadership is right on track with preparing today’s college students with the experiences they need to make a career for themselves in this business-oriented world. Today, few graduates land performing or academic positions, but there are so many other opportunities in the field of music these days. It seems that the Institute is opening these doors to Eastman students and opening their minds to non-traditional musical career paths and that is fantastic.
Kristin, how did your time at Eastman prepare you for your pursuits as an orchestral musician?
David Effron was the orchestra conductor when I was at Eastman and I always loved playing in the orchestras. We were introduced to much of the standard repertoire and he was very demanding. He taught us the basics of good section playing and orchestral chamber music – listening to other sections and playing with them as if we were playing chamber music.
Early in my undergraduate degree, I took a violin orchestral repertoire class taught by Charles Haupt, who was Concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic at the time. He grilled us on the most standard violin orchestral excerpts and I learned a lot about orchestral auditions from that one semester. While my private lessons with Zvi Zeitlin developed the musicianship and personal expression to perform all types of music well, orchestral auditions require a certain amount of exactness and conventionality – I learned that through Mr. Haupt. Immediately after finishing the orchestral repertoire class, I won a part-time position in the 1st violin section of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The following year, while I was still an undergraduate, the RPO had 3 positions open right in the front of the 1st violin section – Concertmaster, 3rd chair, and 4th chair. I took that audition and won 4th chair but they didn’t immediately fill the Concertmaster or 3rd chair positions, essentially putting me on the first stand of the orchestra as an undergraduate in college! (Keep in mind I was still a member of Philharmonia too!) My first day of work as a full-time member of the RPO consisted of sitting on the first stand playing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyre (not an easy part) with seasoned orchestral veterans around me – musicians I, as an audience member, had seen up on stage weekly since childhood! I will never forget that day! It was challenging, scary at times, and exhilarating! I spent a total of 6 years with the RPO and then held positions in the Fort Worth Symphony (1 year) and Dallas Symphony (8 years).
How have teaching and music education impacted your careers?
Peter: For my career, teaching has been everything. Teaching has always been at the center of what I do, and now I feel so fortunate to be in a role to teach teachers, something I’m very passionate about. This all started with student teaching experiences at Eastman. Those experiences led to an immediate hire in the Churchville-Chili school district, followed by a number of piano teaching positions and finally my current position at the University of Georgia. Music education is so important to our craft – without it there will be no audiences to hear and appreciate the great performances, and great music will struggle to survive. In my opinion, there’s nothing more rewarding than opening the world of music to students and watching them take off, captivated by the endless beauty and emotion of the sounds they can make as active participants in the creation of art. Music teachers have a great influence on their students, and a great responsibility. The future is in our hands.
Kristin: I was a Suzuki violin student of Anastasia Jempelis in the Preparatory Department of Eastman from 4 years old. Her program was one of the first Suzuki programs in this country and she was a very prominent teacher in the Suzuki world. To become a true Suzuki teacher, one must complete specific training in the Suzuki method separate from any degree program (since that time, a handful of colleges have begun long-term training and Master’s degrees in Suzuki pedagogy). As an undergraduate, I took an independent study class with Ms. Jempelis that covered Books 1-4 of the 10 Suzuki books. It required hours and hours of observation. Of course, I had private lessons and group classes with her for 13 years as a child, but going through this training from a teacher’s perspective was eye-opening!! This experience encouraged me to seek other Suzuki training opportunities and led me to become a Suzuki teacher as soon as I was out of college. I always maintained a full teaching studio along side my orchestral career but teaching has risen to the forefront of my career since moving to Georgia four years ago and I am welcoming the change.
Peter. what advice can you offer to students in overcoming the challenges that face musicians today?
As I mentioned above, one challenge is finding your place in a competitive world. Musicians need to realize that the “traditional” paths of professionals are getting narrower and more crowded; it isn’t as simple as just getting a degree and then waiting for the orchestra job or the concert tours. You have to think about how your music and your craft matters to the people around you, and then you have to get out there and prove it. Getting involved with your community is a great place to start – performing, teaching, and encouraging more music. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love music, but it’s all too easy to find people who have never had a chance to understand music or think about why it matters to them. It is up to us to show them – this might mean trying to make a connection for them between the shallow music that is so ubiquitous in our culture and something deeper. Show them what’s special about what you do; why it can make an impact in their lives. We need to break down the barriers that seem to exist between “musicians” and “non-musicians.” Everyone can participate in music, but a lot of people don’t believe that and don’t give themselves a chance. Also, figure out what you do best and focus your attentions on those aspects. There’s no substitute for quality.
Currently the Director of the UGA Community Music School, Kristin Jutras began Suzuki violin study at the Eastman School of Music when she was 4 years old with Anastasia Jempelis. She continued her studies at Eastman receiving both bachelors and masters degrees in violin performance as well as a performer’s certificate. While pursuing her degrees, Kristin held part-time and full-time positions in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She went on to hold full-time positions in both the Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the DSO, she performed in Carnegie Hall numerous times, recorded much of the standard orchestral repertoire, and toured Europe three times.
Kristin has also been an active chamber musician performing regularly with Duo Renard, the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, and other chamber groups in the Dallas area. Currently she performs in the University of Georgia Hodgson School of Music faculty string quartet.
In addition to her performing career, Kristin has always been active in the Suzuki Method of teaching violin – as a student growing up and currently as both a teacher and Suzuki parent. She maintains an active Suzuki studio in the Community Music School in addition to overseeing the entire school.
Kristin now lives in Watkinsville, GA with her husband Dr. Pete Jutras, Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy at UGA, her two sons James (8) and Andrew (6).
Peter Jutras, assistant professor, is director of the graduate and undergraduate piano pedagogy programs and the undergraduate group-piano curriculum at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Clavier Companion magazine, a leading national piano pedagogy publication. Jutras served as Editor-in-Chief of Keyboard Companion from 2007-2008. In the fall of 2008, Keyboard Companion merged with Clavier to form Clavier Companion, and he has continued as Editor-in-Chief of this publication, which combines the legacies of two significant piano journals.
Jutras has published articles and research in The Journal of Research in Music Education, Clavier Companion, Keyboard Companion, and Georgia Music News. He is a frequent presenter at international, national, state, and local conferences, including the ISME World Conference, the National Conferences of CMS, MENC, and MTNA, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the World Piano Pedagogy Conference, GP3 the National Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Forum, and multiple state and local events. He has conducted extensive research on adult music study, specifically on the benefits of adult piano study and the benefits of participation in New Horizons Bands.
A Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, Jutras holds the B.M. degree in music education from the Eastman School of Music, the M.M. degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, and the Ph.D. in music education with an emphasis in piano pedagogy from the University of North Texas. Prior to his UGA appointment, he was visiting lecturer at Southern Methodist University and taught at Richland Community College and at the Meadows School of the Arts Community Education Division of SMU. Jutras maintained a successful private teaching studio for 12 years in Dallas, TX.