Rosalind - Denise Rogers (BMEd '16)
2022 St. Louis Arts Educator of the Year
Rosalind's VanderCook Journey
Who were your greatest mentors at VanderCook?
I learned much from many at VanderCook. Michael Hall saw through my rough exterior and managed to find a way to teach me music. I am forever inspired, and it taught me that each student is on their own journey. The method we use to teach them also helps us as students learn to navigate through life. We play a role far greater than a teacher of music. We are teachers of character, life skills, perseverance, and grit. We see our students to the finish line of their degree, but our influence has the potential to carry them much further.
Dean Clements once said during a lecture, “Talent without heart is cold but Talent without skill is useless” this saying has stuck with me 12 years later and is something that causes me to seek balance in my instruction. To remain humble and always cultivate my skill. Not just as a musician but as a music educator.
If you were to look at any part of your VCM experience, what do you credit for your success?
When I look back over my experience at VanderCook, I credit the immersion in music from the moment I entered the program. Being placed in such an uncomfortable position as a beginner allows me to empathize with middle school students.
The culture of helping set up and break down teaches you that there is nothing beneath you. As a music teacher, you find out quick that “that isn’t my job” just doesn’t cut it if you want a successful program. It taught accountability and community then and is what my students get to learn from me now.
Having those various playing opportunities, and one-on-one lessons in random places because all the classes and practice rooms were taken; taught me that music can be created, played, and taught ANYWHERE. My programs are not limited by my resources because the goal of making music remains. I have taught in closets, corridors, and classrooms because, well, music can be appreciated in any of those places.
The entire experience equips you with the extrinsic skill you need as a musician and music educator, as well as the intrinsic growth, needed to make you an impactful music educator. I look back and appreciate many of the lessons I learned at VanderCook.
If you could tell your younger college self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell my younger college self to seize the moments. The moments that make memories and build relationships, the moments that allow you to learn from someone different than yourself, and the moments that allow others to learn from you. I would say to let go of the agreements that life may have caused you to commit to that no longer serve your purpose.
I would tell myself what I tell my students now. “Playing an instrument is hard, and it doesn’t get easier; you get better. “ This will have to be applied to your life, young Rosalind, because It doesn’t get easier; you get better. You get better!