By Therese Aaker, Features Editor
Passion is a gift, an opportunity to share the deepest parts of ourselves to those we come in contact with.
Dr. Sean Teets, who joined the music department as assistant professor and director of choral and vocal activities last semester, aims to share his passion of music with students. It’s what fuels his teaching.
“I love coming to work and trying to show my passion, and hopefully it rubs off on (students) … I want them to follow me into battle,” Teets said.
“Sometimes I fail miserably, but the journey is important to me and seeing the growth in the student (is worth it),” he added.
In the music department, professors aim to teach and refine techniques, but their ultimate goal is to “work on the whole person,” Teets said.
“Hopefully they leave as better people than when they came in, and I approach it that way with myself as well,” he said. “It’s my job to help them succeed. Some students underestimate themselves and when they have that ‘a-ha!’ moment, it’s worth it.”
His passion in teaching is evident to some of his students. Senior music major Joseph Gifford has taken several classes with Dr. Teets.
“I admire his enthusiasm for music … and helping our music department grow through our Benedictine tradition,” Gifford said.
Building on tradition
Although this year has been mostly observation in the music department, Teets plans on making a few changes in the upcoming year.
“We are trying to find innovative ways to build on the students we have (in the department), and to recruit new people,” Teets said.
One of the ways they’ve recruited is by “giving guys pies if they join choir”, and it worked — 15 men joined, and it’s a program they might be repeating in the future, he said.
The music department will also address the massive size of the concert chorale class by splitting the groups into more sections. One chorus will be for women only, to compensate for having more women than men in the class. The Pops Concert, normally with two groups, will be split into four.
“It’s a good thing to have the problem of too many people,” Teets said. “We’re changing the dynamics to make it better.”
Teets was also part of a Discovery Day project involving the department’s a capella groups, one being “varsity” and the other “junior varsity,” he said. The a capella groups are modeled after Kansas State’s well-known group, In-A-Chord.
Changes like these are only meant to build on the tradition Dr. Ruth Krusemark, department chair, laid in the department, he said.
“I felt like God was calling me (to Benedictine). I felt like I could do some good. I noticed things I could fix,” Teets said. “My predecessor did a great job and is one of the best bosses I have ever had. I just want to take it to the next level and build upon virtues she’s laid down.”
In Catholic culture
Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, Teets found a home at state schools, attending Youngstown State University and Bowling Green State University. He completed his doctorate in music at University at Northern Colorado and worked at Louisiana Tech University.
As a student, he was involved in the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and campus ministry, eventually becoming a sacristan and
campus minister. Eventually, he just wanted to be in a Catholic environment.
“I had a friend in FOCUS who went to school with me, who was placed at Benedictine … he knew several people there … so I applied to the school,” Teets said. “I just wanted to work at a Catholic college, closer to the Midwest where I grew up.”
Having attended state schools before coming to work at an “extremely Catholic” college, Teets noticed a lot of differences, some good and some bad, he said.
“The students are much more self-aware … but sometimes they miss the big picture,” Teets said. “But it’s cool to see so many people going to Mass and going on the March for Life.”
“It’s interesting to see the different dynamics here,” he added.
Besides starting a capella groups at Benedictine, Teets has also participated in Jam for the Lamb and is currently playing on an intramural softball team with students.
“I deeply care about these students. I set rules … but I’m also loving and compassionate,” Teets said.
Students like Rebecca Oberley, junior music major, and Amy Rhein, junior music minor, have been challenged by Teets in their classes with him.
“I think he’s helping me in the emotion of the pieces we do … with (how the emotion) portrays a picture of what we’re singing,” Rhein said.
“He’s really passionate about music in general and tries to (give that to his students),” Oberley said.
At the end of the day, Teets says he imparts his knowledge and love of music to bring students closer to God.
“If what I say in class brings them closer to Christ, then I’ve earned my money for the day,” Teets said. “It’s a joy to be around these people that care and are dedicated.”