Art Through Example
Lawrence Leighton Smith, Retired Colorado Springs Symphony Conductor
Photo by Don Jones
Fortunately these inspiring teachers have found a welcome home at The Colorado Springs Conservatory which opened in 1995. Their leadership has yielded impressive results: 100 percent of Conservatory high school seniors have been accepted to the colleges, conservatories and universities of their choosing.
Conservatory founder and Julliard School graduate Linda Weise describes her organization as “an Eco-culture unto itself, yet never insular.” The school promotes community engagement and outreach along with technical proficiency.
“Our faculty goes above and beyond. They reach into a student’s soul so that they learn they have the ability to cultivate and enhance the lives of others,” she says.
Each instructor brings his or her own real-world experience and talent. Orchestral technique, music theory, composition and performance skills, for example, are taught by retired Colorado Springs Symphony Conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith, Chamber Orchestra of Colorado Springs music director Thomas Wilson or jazz guitarist Wayne Wilkinson. Piano students may learn from composer, arranger and recording artist Steve Barta or perfect skills under piano soloist, recitalist and chamber musician Dr. Angelina Gadeliya. Those enrolled in voice or theater courses can study with nationally recognized opera soprano Judeth-Shay Burns or even Weise herself.
“We have this beautiful collective, this family that wants to share what they’ve learned and pass it along,” Weise points out.
For example, Conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith built a rich career that began in 1973. He now wants to pass along some of what he’s learned.
Weise describes his contributions as “a blessing,” noting that he not only shares his incredible wealth of experience, intelligence, talent and love for music with young people but “plants a seed of hope that this passion for the arts will continue to the next generation.”
Pianist Dr. Angelina Gadeliya is one of the Conservatory’s youngest faculty members, but already her credits include prestigious Julliard School Ensemble ACJW performances as well as appearances throughout the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Israel and Ukraine.
Her Conservatory students range from home schoolers to students from partner schools and hopeful career musicians.
Each child’s emotions, personality and ability to learn are different – and each teaches her something different.
“At 8, 9, 10 or 11 it’s so much fun to teach them. They’re at a stage where they’re soaking it up. Good teachers are hard to find. I feel piano instruction should be comprehensive and technique-focused but it should
also help develop healthy habits for life like discipline, confidence and organization,” she says.
Judeth Shay-Burns also values her role as a mentor, whether a young student chooses music as a career or not.
“Because classical music is structured and mathematical, training helps develop new paths to the brain, she explains. Even shy or uncertain youngsters, in a supportive, non-judgmental environment, gain confidence. Many see their grades improve.
And like Gedaliya, Shay-Burns says that by setting a successful example, the teacher learns from the student.
“It’s rewarding to be part of that growth,” she says.