Excellence in Artistic Activity
Practicing what he performs
Practicing what he performs
Whether he is performing in venues large or small, trumpet virtuoso Bryan DePoy always wows his audiences.
“I suspect Haydn would have smiled if he’d been around to hear it Bravissimo!,” said his Department of Music and Dramatic Arts colleague Stephen Suber after DePoy played a Haydn concerto with the Southeastern Chamber Orchestra.
“I got goose bumps,” saidSoutheasternLabSchoollibrarian Andrea Laborde when DePoy and one of his students teamed up for “Taps” at a school Veteran’s Day ceremony.
But, despite the accolades that he draws for his stellar performances, the 2006 recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Artistic Activity maintains that his proudest achievements are not his own, but “the success, enthusiasm, and thirst for knowledge of my current and past students.”
Music teachers, he says, have a responsibility to their students to perform and he takes that responsibility very seriously -- as his resume bears out. But for DePoy playing and teaching the trumpet are as intertwined as the golden notes that his peers praise him for creating.
“It’s a cycle that never really stops for me,” DePoy said. “As my students improve, they challenge me to become a better artist. As my art becomes better, it makes me a better teacher. One feeds off the other.
“I’ve always tried to be a role model in every respect when it comes to practicing what I preach,” he said. “I practice every bit as much as I ask my students to. I perform in the same way I ask them to, and it makes me a much more honest and sincere teacher.”
DePoy’s cycle of performing includes being a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and the Saenger Theater Orchestra ofNew Orleans, as well as a regularly playing with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society and Northshore Symphony. He has performed with notable groups such as the New Mexico Brass Qunitet, Memphis Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and at conferences and symposia throughout theUnited States. His musical activities have even taken him abroad to perform inMexico,Australia,England, andSweden.
He is music reviews editor for the International Trumpet Guild Journal; has edited a well-known brass methods textbook, and is a tirelessly successful recruiter, constantly giving seminars and in-service presentations in area schools.
DePoy’s musical success grew out of his upbringing in a farming community in southernIndiana. At his small consolidated school, “There were two things to do,” he said. “One was to participate in farming activities, the other was music. I tended to excel in music.”
Farmers know, he said, “If you don’t do something an animal (or a crop) dies. The work ethic that was encouraged by that atmosphere carried over very well into music.”
DePoy chose to master the trumpet because, “I enjoyed the sound,” he said. “It was the loudest instrument in the band, and there was something about the strength that it possessed in terms of its character, which I enjoyed very much.”
Encouraged by his band director and a private teacher and mentor, he originally planned to major in music education. After a brief detour into psychology, he settled on music performance, earning his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University School of Music, master’s at theUniversityofNew Mexico, and doctorate atFloridaStateUniversity. After teaching for six years atDeltaStateUniversityinMississippi, DePoy came to Southeastern in 1999.
“I have no regrets whatsoever,” he said. “It’s been wonderful.”
As much as he loves the rewarding, but also admittedly exhausting, cycle of performing and teaching, DePoy recently launched another phase of his career when he became assistant dean of theCollegeofArts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
“It was a huge emotional attachment for me to cut that string and realize that for the time being I’m not going to be teaching,” he admitted. He will still be actively involved in the arts community, however, as interim director of the newNorthshoreSchoolof the Arts. He calls the new venture through which Southeastern will offer college credit to gifted high school performing and visual arts students “one of the most exciting things with which I have ever been involved.”
Despite his new administrative responsibility, DePoy plans to perform as often as he can, something that has become even more meaningful -- and poignant -- for him since last August.
“The hurricane provided a major dilemma for performing artists,” DePoy said. “There are very few venues left. The people I perform with are my true friends, and nothing is better than performing and making great music with people when you have such a great deal of respect and friendship.
“On the rare occasions that we do get together, compared to pre-Katrina performances, it’s much more nostalgic,” he said. “We realize how much we enjoy performing and how tight knit the community really isWe really do relish those times when we get to perform and we hope things will continue to get better.”
Meanwhile, DePoy said he will continue to practice what he preaches to his students.
“After you work a full day, often you want to just go back home and relax -- or maybe practice!,” he said. “The fatigue factor is very high when you get back atmidnightfrom playing with the symphony and have to go to work at8 a.m.
“I do that simply for the students,” he said. “And they very much appreciate it. They take some pride in the fact that their teacher is so active in the performing world. Setting an example for the students is really my top priority.”