It’s been a busy semester for flute teacher Susan Thomas. In addition to her full-time teaching duties, her musical talents are in great demand when Broadway shows tour New England—performing this fall at the Providence Performing Arts Center with the cast of “Wicked” and “The King and I.” Combine that with monthly concerts as principal flutist for the Rhode Island Philharmonic and solo and group performances with a variety of other ensembles, and it’s easy to see how she has become a master at juggling her calendar.
Thomas says that her active performing schedule contributes significantly to her teaching success. “An important part of being a music teacher is having your students see you do what you’re telling them to do. They can come peer into the orchestra pit and see me down there. It makes the lessons I’m teaching them richer.”
As the coordinator of technology needs in the Department of Music, Thomas also ensures that every music student prepares a digital portfolio that may include audio clips of their best performances, video of their senior recital, and other important files.
“Not only does it demonstrate what they’ve done as undergraduates, but it also helps them put their toes in the water of marketing themselves,” she said. “It’s the beginning of their entrepreneurial presence as they move forward into their career.”
Thomas acknowledges that although not all music students pursue music as a career, music will always be a part of their lives. “I want to show them the balance between what pays your bills and where your heart might be. It’s a balancing act for all of us, and it’s important they see that it can work.”