Spotlight on David Watkins: Sharing a lifetime of music passion
By Jonquil Harris
Professor of Music David Watkins began a music-teaching career when he was a teenager. As he worked in a store that was run by his music teacher, he came to appreciate and develop a love for teaching music. Aside from the piano lessons given by his instructor, Watkins would sit in on some of the other teachers’ coaching sessions. His first pupil was his younger sister who he says was quite a good student.
In nearly three decades of teaching at Kennesaw State University, Watkins has brought his love for the piano as well as personal and professional experience with him to work each day. Since every student has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, Watkins’ teaching methods vary from student to student. “The common bond is always music,” he says. “What music does for the person, whether they’re playing the violin or singing, is to allow them to express themselves as fully as possible. My goal is to help them achieve that.”
Watkins is as passionate about performing music...
...as he is about teaching it.
Photographs by Linda Tincher
He also stresses the importance of students being well-rounded, being able to accompany and teach and being a productive member of a professional organization. He believes it is important to contribute and give back, stating “For thousands of years music has been an art that is passed down from one person to the next and in the studio there has to be that kind of relationship with the student. The more well-rounded you can be the more angles of a situation you’re able to look at and see how to better help the student.”
Through his affiliations in organizations such as Georgia Music Teacher’s Association, he has helped to direct students to the music program at KSU. Watkins acts as a judge during solo festivals and auditions and offers encouragement to students. “Sometimes a high school student will approach me about coaching, or getting ready for an audition, and I will also talk them into auditioning here at KSU,” Watkins says. “A number of the majors who have come and graduated are now successful teachers in the studio.” Within the organization, Watkins also plans monthly meetings and recruits presenters for workshops.
Outside of KSU, he is involved in a recording project for ACA Digital Recordings that will feature the unpublished works of David Berg, former chairman of the piano department at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
Watkins plans to retire within the next year but says that he will not stray too far from KSU. He plans to visit and keep up with the ongoing events. “I’m still going to be teaching. It is what I love and I will never stop doing it. As long as I can, I will never stop playing.” His post-retirement plans include traveling and devoting more of his time to practicing and playing music.