Editor, McLerran Journal
Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX
Professor Jeffrey Grogan is an internationally recognized conductor and educator. He is currently the conductor of the University Symphony Orchestra at the Bass School of Music (Oklahoma City University) and the artistic director and conductor for the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras.
Although there are no other musicians in Professor Grogan’s family, he is grateful to his parents for supporting his passion. He first showed an interest in music in the fourth grade after hearing the “Star Wars” soundtrack by John Williams. Professor Grogan would regularly practice conducting to the recordings and started to explore additional instrumental recordings. When he was old enough to enroll in a band class, he started lessons on the trombone (but later switched to the french horn in his second year). Professor Grogan believes that his career, from studying music in the public-school system to teaching at the university level has “progressed naturally.”
Professor Grogan completed his undergraduate degree at Stephen F. Austin State University (Texas) and his graduate work with the University of Michigan. In his more than twenty-five years of teaching, he has taught at Ithaca College and served as the Associate Director of Bands and the Marching Band Director at both the University of Michigan and Baylor University (Texas). He has served as the conductor of the New Jersey Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), the NJSO Youth Orchestras, and the InterSchool Orchestras of New York. Professor Grogan is also the Artistic Director of the Paterson Music Project (New Jersey), and the NJSO CHAMPs (Character, Achievement, and Music Project).
Throughout his career, Professor Grogan has served as an adjudicator, conductor, and clinician for prestigious organizations including the Honor Orchestra of America (Music for All), the Association for Music in International Schools Orchestra (Singapore), the National Orchestra Cup (Lincoln Center), and the Honors Performance Series Orchestra and Band (Carnegie Hall), the Little Orchestra Society of New York, the Reno Philharmonic, the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, and the New York Concerti Sinfonietta. He has guest-conducted at the University of Georgia, Indiana University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes School of Music Pre-College Division, and both All State Orchestras and Bands throughout the United States.
As a regular clinician, Professor Grogan believes that conducting symposiums are critical to a conductor’s success. He explained that “it's hard to work on yourself as a conductor” while simultaneously teaching. Symposiums provide directors with an opportunity to evaluate their effectiveness as both a conductor and teacher. Professor Grogan “always [tries] to memorize the score” before standing in front of an ensemble. He describes the ability to perform or rehearse without constantly having to check the music as “freeing.” His score-study process includes several months of detailed analysis, beginning with the big picture and getting increasingly more detail-oriented.
To young educators, Professor Grogan advises “listening more and asking more questions.” Professor Grogan believes that successful teachers need a “strong network of friends” or an experienced mentor who can give professional insight. He believes that the first year or two of teaching should be viewed as an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Professor Grogan also emphasized the importance of seeking out exposure to other mindsets or cultures. He believes that being exposed to fresh philosophies encourages one to be “healthier and more open minded.”
Follow Professor Grogan at http://www.jeffreygrogan.com
Book suggestions from Professor Grogan:
“Art of Possibility; Transforming Professional and Personal Life” Benjamin and Rosamund Zander
“A Soprano on Her Head; Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances” Eloise Ristad
Image Source: Fred Stucker