The Kodály Institute At McNeese State University
From a speech given by Michele Martin, former head of the Department of Performing Arts at the closing concert of the mixed and children's choirs at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana. June 29, 2012.
What you will hear—and see this evening are the partial and continuous fruits of a lengthy miracle. To be precise, a twenty-year miracle sustained through a singular vision, a unique determination and dedication, a brilliant collaboration among gifted teaching masters and a belief that music is a gift to all humankind and through its powers the human soul can be healed and nurtured.
In 1992, Lamar Robertson, the Institute’s founder and first director, came to me, at that time a novice department head, with a vision of a music program that he felt fit the academic and cultural mission of the McNeese Department of Music — a three week summer institute where practicing music teachers could develop their teaching and musicianship skills to a mastery level. With the support of the McNeese Academic Administration, Lamar’s vision became a reality in June 1993 when the McNeese Summer Kodály Institute was initially established. Lamar continued to share his astonishing gift of teaching with the students at the Institute until his retirement a few years ago.
During the last twenty years, the Institute has been fortunate to secure the services of many master teachers who have changed the teaching lives of the institute’s students through their inspiration and knowledge. The faculty has included several visiting Hungarian lecturers, notably Éva Vendrei, one of the most powerful teachers and memorable human beings I have had the privilege to know, as well as Andrea Antoni of the Kodály School in Kecskemét, Hungary and Klára Nemes of the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute in Kecskemét; many recognized American teaching masters including the Institute’s current academic director, Ann Eisen, Kathy Hickey, a former OAKE past-president, Jon Rappaport of Massachusetts, and several of the Institute’s own graduates who have gone on to teach at other summer programs as well as our own including Kari McCarty Proksch, Susan Tevis, and Melonee Cooper.
There are many other remembrances of the summer courses of the last twenty years. They include: 10th, 15th, and 20th years: Gilbert De Greeve comes from Belgium to help celebrate our summer course. Of course, he visits many courses and celebrations, and over the years has become quite well known to Kodály educators in the United States as a performer, educator, and historian of Kodály history.
Eva Vendrei: a teacher and human being of the highest quality and expertise. She shared so many wonderful stories of her experiences in Hungary and in the U.S.A. So many people shared her friendship and felt loved and valued by her as she did to them.
1999: First Hungarian Summer Course and first IKS Symposium in Kecskemét: 8 music teachers from Louisiana go on the trip of their lives to Hungary and to the summer course at the Kodály Institute. Best part for me was meeting all these wonderful teachers and other music students from all over the world. Ann, Lamar, and Susan presented at the symposium.
All in all, we express our appreciation to those who led the way and instilled in us the spirit of the universal language of music.