Wallace Long Jr.
Wallace Long Jr.
Music professor says collaborative learning is the key to success.
Boxes of hand-bells hide the office floor, ready to be moved for the Christmas in Hudson concerts, as Professor Wallace Long Jr. finishes a friendly conversation about concert preparations with a student. Long, a firm believer in shared learning, often includes his students in planning and running activities for his choirs and classes.
A sense of equality and common purpose pervades the atmosphere of Willamette's Music Department. The most notable difference between students and faculty often lies in their level of mastery. "I see this business of teaching music as if we are on the same continuum towards being fully functional musicians," says Long. "I am simply further down the continuum than my students. My job is to get my students to pass me."
To achieve this, Long utilizes collaborative teaching techniques. Long has created groups such as Chamber Choir Executive Council, which acts as a governing body for the group. "I hope that in my classes, there is the concept that we are working collaboratively to find the beauty in the music," says Long.
Although he's known for his intense rehearsals, Long says he "tries to be open to what students have to share." The result of Long's influence on the Choir Department is evident in the excellence of the performing groups. High standards and a professional atmosphere are catalysts for movement along Long's continuum.
As a professional musician, Long has gained plenty of experience to share with his students. He's been in such renowned groups as Male Ensemble Northwest, toured with the great Robert Shaw in France, and participated in the Oregon Bach Festival under Helmut Rilling. In addition, he's made numerous appearances as a solo artist.
As an active performer, Long sets an example for his students to follow. And by employing his experience in a collaborative way with his students, Long not only motivates his students to improve but sets a precedent for respect and professionalism as well. "There is always a sense of decorum in what I do," he says.
The other members of the music faculty also set high standards for themselves and their students, says Long. "I deal with the most wonderful, disciplined people," Long says of his fellow instructors.
Ultimately, music students at Willamette have the best of both worlds: a professional environment and input into their education. Long's desire for collaborative learning brings students and faculty together as they pursue their love of music.
The result? Perfect harmony.