MSU honors three from College of Music at annual awards ceremony

Two faculty members and a graduate student were honored for their dedication to teaching and scholarly excellence at the annual MSU Awards Convocation.

David Rayl, professor of music, associate dean for graduate studies, and director of choral programs, was one of 10 faculty members across the university to receive the Distinguished Faculty Award. The new honorees bring the number of faculty honored for their outstanding contributions to education and research since the award was established in 1952 to 501.

Derek Kealii Polischuk, associate professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy, received the Teacher-Scholar Award, which is awarded to faculty who early in their careers have shown scholarly promise and who have earned the respect of their students and colleagues for their teaching skills. Six MSU faculty members received this honor in 2013.

Patrick Johnson, graduate teaching assistant in music theory and concert pianist, was among only six graduate students who were awarded the Excellence in Teaching Citation. This honor marks the skill these students have shown in meeting their classroom responsibilities.

As a conductor, scholar, teacher, administrator, and mentor, Rayl has brought distinction to the College of Music on the national and international stage. Widely viewed as a scholar able to effectively bridge research to practice, Rayl has a gifted way of connecting performers and teachers to scholarship such that national and international standards of artistry reach wider audiences. (Photo: MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon congratulates David Rayl.)

He has achieved sustained and meaningful research productivity, including juried invitations for performances at national and regional conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association. His invitations to guest conduct, present scholarship, and to teach conducting master classes are significant and ongoing.

Intangibles help set Rayl apart in the classroom as well as on the podium. His peers consider his classes the standard for scholarship in graduate conducting programs nationwide. Mentoring for Rayl is a lifelong process that emanates from his commitment to the students he teaches. As Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, Rayl has distinguished himself for his collaborative, innovative leadership. Time to degree is down in all programs and faculty and students alike are actively mentored in personal and meaningful ways.

Polischuk, an outstanding teacher, scholar and performer who is impacting the teaching and learning of piano at a national level, is involved in every aspect of music making. He performs regularly as a soloist, collaborative artist, and soloist with orchestra. He commissions music, guest lectures, writes grants, publishes articles, and organizes conferences—all with energy, engagement, and expertise. (Photo: MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon with Derek Polischuk.)

In addition to embracing these varied and numerous responsibilities, Polischuk teaches. A gifted instructor, he inspires and motivates all his students, who range from doctoral piano performance majors to children with Asperger’s Syndrome. In addition to the classroom and private music studio, he uses a blog to keep his students abreast of news and posts videos to efficiently share examples of his own classroom experiences. His pedagogy students benefit from exposure to diverse teaching situations, including group piano lessons, private instruction, and the teaching of multiple age groups.

Polischuk is deeply involved in the Lansing and Detroit communities through his class work at the Community Music School and at Cornerstone Schools in Detroit. He models integrated scholarship with his research informing his work in the classroom and his community engagement informing his research.

Johnson uses his dual expertise as a concert pianist and a music theorist to engage his students artistically and intellectually, thus enriching students’ aural and expressive understanding of music and helping them to analyze and to think critically about it. He is a performing musician who can also engage in sophisticated discussions with professional music theorists. His students respond well to his hybrid musicianship and they appreciate his unique dedication to each individual learner. Whether tutoring one-on-one or lecturing in the classroom, Johnson puts his students at ease, helping them, regardless of their level of expertise, to recognize and to embrace the abstract music theory so relevant to their lives as musicians. (Photo: MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon with Patrick Johnson.)

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