Arts4All Blog

Get to Know Tyler Duncan and Erika Switzer

Posted April 13th, 2017  |  By A4A.admin

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CSMA is excited to welcome award-winning collaborators Tyler Duncan (baritone) and Erika Switzer (piano) for a free concert in Tateuchi Hall on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30pm. Get to know the musicians as they discuss how music education shaped them, and share some advice for music students.

Tyler Duncan, Baritone

How did you begin playing music?

I used to make up songs when I was very very little, so my Nana urged my parents to let me join a choir.

Did you have you access to music education in school? If not, how did you find your way into music?

I was very fortunate to attend schools that had thriving arts programs.  I sang in choir and jazz choir and played trombone in band and jazz band. I was in acting and musical theater and had a jazz combo where I played trombone and sang.

Tell us about a great music teacher you had.

My music teachers have been the biggest influence in my life.  My high school band teacher Mr. Campbell taught me about the importance of tuning to induce goosebumps.  My junior high band teacher Mr. Miller instilled a love of jazz music in me.  My high school choir teacher Mrs. Cooper taught me how important it is to work with others, be kind and have patience.  My community choir teacher Mrs. Miller (the band teacher’s wife) taught me about confidence and fearlessness when singing in front of people. My voice teacher and choir conductor at University, Professor Fankhauser, taught me about the beauty of phrasing and the power of language to help paint the picture you are trying to portray to the audience.

How often do you practice and/or rehearse?

I try to practice every day, and rehearse when I am getting a concert together which is also pretty much every day.

What advice do you have for young, aspiring musicians?

Find your voice, don’t try to sound like anyone else, but listen to everything you can to help you find that voice.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

Erika Switzer and I have been working together now for 20 years.  I am quite lucky!

Erika Switzer, Piano

How did you begin playing music?

I sang before I spoke. My parents signed me up for piano lessons when I was 4.

Did you have you access to music education in school? If not, how did you find your way into music?

I did! We had music classes beginning in grade 1, choir beginning in grade 3 and band beginning in grade 5. I was very lucky. I also practiced piano most days after school. Sometimes it was lonely because I wished I could also be out with my friends, but I stuck with it and it led me to a wonderful community of musicians.

Tell us about a great music teacher you had.

It’s hard to pick just one. Mr. Taylor, my high school band teacher, was so encouraging. He was a great listener and he always knew how to make the students laugh. Then, much later, at Juilliard, Margo Garrett taught me how to feel free at the piano. It’s something that I now try to teach to my own students.

How often do you practice and/or rehearse?

It depends on the day. Sometimes every day, especially in the summer, and sometimes less because I’m teaching more. Ideally, I’d find an hour everyday to stay in good form.

What advice do you have for young, aspiring musicians?

To know that making music can teach you about many things. It can teach you to count and to breathe, it can teach you patience and compassion, it can teach you to listen and to lead, and it can teach you to understand your body. Whatever time you spend learning and playing music will help you in the rest of your life as well. And, music will brighten the lives of the people around you. It’s a gift you can give to your friends and family.

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