Teacher Feature: Dr. Haney on winning the ASTA Educator Award

Every year, an abundance of nominations are passed down to the American String Teachers Association, with hopes of receiving the ASTA Elizabeth A.H. Green String Educator Award. All the nominees chosen display excellence in string education, and showcase the very foundations of musicianship and passion in the teaching field. This year, it was exciting news to hear that this award was given to Brookfield Central’s very own – Dr. Denice Haney!

The application process requires the string educator to have at least 10 years of orchestra teaching experience, which involves teaching grades K-12, and proof of an ASTA membership. With this criteria aside, the nominee must also have the support of a nominator, and three, quality, recommendations from an administrator, colleague, and parent/student. Dr. Haney’s hard work and dedication to the string program certainly paid off when her name was announced as the winner of this award late January. However, her journey was a long one. To know more about the behind-the-scenes work of what she is today, TYRO got an exclusive interview with Dr. Haney:

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How strong was the influence of music on you as you were growing up, and what instruments did you play?

One day, orchestra instruments were introduced in my 7th grade general music course. My friend said, “I’ll do it if you’ll do it”. This experience led to private viola lessons, music camps, youth/honor orchestras and full scholarships to college. My parents saw how much I loved being in the orchestra and they were quite supportive from the beginning.

What developed your interest in music, and moved you to pursue a career in it?

My first day in college my counselor went on to say how difficult careers in music could be. I stayed, and enjoyed the learning which led to an active performance career before I started working with young people. One of my jobs was Principal Violist/Soloist for the National Symphony of Ecuador in Quito. While I was there, a friend asked me to start a strings program at a local international school. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students and helping them learn to play in the orchestra. After 4 years in Ecuador, I returned to college to earn a teaching certificate along with a doctorate in viola performance. I continued to perform throughout all of the years that I have been an educator.

How many years has it been since you have been teaching music overall, and how many of those years have been at BC?

Academia Alianza, Quito 2 years
Madison School District, Phoenix, 3 years
Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra, 5 years
Western State College (multiple courses, chamber orchestra conductor) CO 2 years
University School of Milwaukee (5 orchestras), 6 years
Milwaukee Youth Symphony String Orchestra, 22 years
Elmbrook Schools, 18 years (Elementary 10 years/BCHS + BEHS 8 years
Carnegie Hall 2015 + 2019

Is there anyone special that you would like to commemorate or thank for this honor?

So many people played a role in my progress as a musician and educator. My very first teacher, Linda Terry; my youth orchestra conductor who helped me apply for college and audition for Chapman’s School of Music; my viola professor, Dr. William Magers who was an extraordinary educator and mentor; and my helpful and congenial music colleagues. I sincerely thank all my students for making every day enjoyable through their enthusiasm and love for making music!