This fall, four new faculty faces—some familiar, some fresh—will be seen around the College of Music. We sat down with each of the incoming educators to see what they’re looking forward to about joining the college family.
Associate Professor of Trumpet
Ryan Gardner comes to the College of Music from Oklahoma State University, where he taught for eight years—five of which saw his students win the National Trumpet Competition.
“My students have gone on to collegiate teaching and performance, so I’ve been fortunate,” Gardner says. Having earned degrees from Eastman School of Music, Rice University and Manhattan School of Music, the California native says he may be a full-time educator, but performing will always be a big part of his life.
“Performance for me is essential to being a strong pedagogue, because if you’re not out there doing it, it’s hard to explain to your students what it is that they should be doing.
“That’s why I’m so passionate about doing all kinds of performing. Not just solo, chamber, orchestral—all of it.”
Gardner says though he puts on several solo recitals and chamber performances every year, he’s known since early on in his career that he was meant to both teach and play music. “The best part about teaching is sharing my passion and enthusiasm with my students,” he explains. “When they have the lightbulb moments, where they figure something out, seeing them learn and achieve on their own and with guidance is really enjoyable.”
Gardner says he’s looking forward to putting down roots in Boulder with his partner and their two dogs and getting to know his faculty colleagues.
Instructor of Music Education
Alumnus Joel Schut (MM ’12) returns to the College of Music to join the Music Education department and conduct the new University Philharmonia Orchestra. He says he’s thrilled to be coming back to his alma mater.
“The CU faculty members are top-shelf performers and dedicated teachers. I always appreciated that as a graduate student. You could learn from every faculty member regardless of degree program. They were all interested in helping you grow. I want to be one of those contributors.”
After graduating from the College of Music with a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, Schut went on to teach in various public school and international music programs—including in Honduras, Tunisia, Germany, Myanmar and Afghanistan. In addition, he earned a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Michigan State University while conducting the nearby Okemos High School orchestra. He says the situation provided a wonderful laboratory for learning.
“It provided a place to try new ideas every day. It was a perfect mix of artistry and education.”
Schut has also been serving as interim director of orchestras at the State University of New York at Potsdam, in addition to teaching courses in conducting and string music education. In his new role at the College of Music, he’ll get to explore the relationship between ensemble music making and teacher education.
“My background informs my understanding of teaching as artistry and artistry as teaching. I am grateful to be integrated within a new performing ensemble and an excellent music education faculty working with performers and future teachers to develop their skills and nurture their craft.”
Assistant Professor of Violin
Claude Sim’s face has been a familiar sight around the halls of Imig Music since he began teaching in the Strings area on an interim basis in August 2018.
This fall, Sim joins the faculty full time. “I’m most looking forward to the chance to pass along what I’ve learned in the field and to be a part of that positive feedback loop that makes our music community run,” he says. “Giving back is a noble approach to being a musician and to being a more complete artist.”
An active performer and graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Sim brings 20 years of experience with the Colorado Symphony to his role as studio professor for violin students. “When we, as performers, get to be out in the field doing and practicing what we preach, it gives a little bit more truth to what we’re sharing with students,” Sim says. “The opportunity to share knowledge and tradition with our future generations is something that I take very seriously, and I have deep gratitude for the chance to do so.”
And to be able to stay in Colorado is icing on the cake for Sim.
“Having lived in the state for 20 years, it’s become home. It’s a beautiful place to live and study and make music.”
Assistant Director of Bands
Instructor of Conducting and Music Education
Branden Steinmetz joins the Bands department just in time for the new Golden Buffalo Marching Band season, and he couldn’t be happier. “Having the chance to work with the athletic bands was important to me,” Steinmetz says. “The thing I like about them is that you get students who aren’t just music majors: they’re engineers, computer scientists, pre-med. You get exposed to a lot of different points of view, which is refreshing.”
Steinmetz will also direct the Buff Basketball Band and the Concert Band, giving him ample opportunity to work with students from across the CU Boulder campus. He says given his background in music, it will be a great fit. Steinmetz just completed his DMA at Michigan State University. Before that, he taught in public school in Woodbury, Minnesota, outside the Twin Cities for four years before earning a master’s degree in percussion performance at the University of Minnesota. And he grew up and went to college in rural Wisconsin, earning a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
“I have had the fortune of having interacted with people from diverse backgrounds,” he says. “I have sympathy for the person with a band of 25 students and no budget and no resources—that’s kind of where I came from. But I can also speak to the person who has infinite resources and a band of 300, who faces completely different challenges.”
Steinmetz says for him, teaching music is all about those relationships, and he’s looking forward to forging them here in Boulder.
“It’s 100% the people and the connections. I used to be very concerned with putting on the perfect performance and hitting every single note, but the more I get into this, the more I realize that the perfect performance doesn’t exist. It’s the relationships you build along the way, interacting with human beings on a different level and working together—especially in the current world climate. That’s what’s fulfilling to me.”