Hannah Collins, DMA
As String Area Coordinator and Assistant Professor of cello at the University of Kansas School of Music, I teach cello lessons, chamber music, studio ensemble, and seminars on repertoire and pedagogy to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in music performance, education, therapy, or other liberal arts fields. Students studying with me have earned fellowships at summer programs including Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, and Brevard Music Center while garnering many individual achievements, including first prize in the university-wide KU concerto competition and teaching positions at nearby institutions. I have been invited to give presentations and classes at institutions across the country, including Indiana University, the University of Chicago, The Juilliard School, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect Program. In the summer, you can find me teaching cello and chamber music at Greenwood Junior Music Camp.
I believe that anyone and everyone can use music as a means of deep personal expression. Musical training should equip students with physical technique, historical/societal context, and theoretical knowledge while providing a process for the development of critical thinking, empathy, creativity, and other personal qualities which will empower their growth into impactful members of whatever professional or personal communities they choose to inhabit. I take it as a personal responsibility to minimize my students’ vulnerability to playing-related harm (physical or mental) and to provide an inclusive and ever-expanding view of the musical landscape, with particular attention to historically marginalized composers and artists.
On an individual level, I ask all of my students to spend time in cycles of observing, setting goals, preparing, doing, reflecting, and recalibrating. My applied cello lessons focus on technical skills including dexterity, hand strength, independence of the fingers, coordination, and the development of diverse types of articulation; as well as musicianship and interpretative skills including stylistic fluency, harmonic analysis, complex intonation, rhythmic accuracy, and tone/timbre development. Achieving a level of technical command enabling genuine personal expression is the ultimate goal for every cello student, but more practical considerations for individuals may include gaining the technical ability to perform with a specific ensemble, to interpret in a particular style, to perform requirements for degree recitals, or to engage with certain repertoire in order to more deeply analyze how it is constructed, how it can be interpreted, or how it can be used in various professional, educational, or therapeutic situations.
I strive to create a studio environment that both enables individual achievement and energizes a sense of community and shared experience. I believe it is valuable to provide studio or group classes during which cello students of all levels meet together to exercise and further develop their ability to perform, teach, and collaborate effectively. This shared space provides a forum for group discussion and a platform for the advancement of additional non-instrumental skill areas such as psychological preparation for performance, critical thinking and problem solving, directing mental dialogue, goal management, accurate self-assessment, and the ability to exchange constructive feedback with peers.
As a university teacher, I am responsible for helping advisees transition from student to professional. Preparing for a 21st century career in music may include being a teacher, orchestral musician, chamber musician, soloist, entrepreneur, freelancer, arts advocate, interdisciplinary teaching artist, music industry professional, or any combination of these. My goal is that all graduates I work with will be strong performers and teachers, but will also be psychologically prepared, personally motivated, and equipped with the resources needed to seek out rewarding opportunities in the profession. To support this goal, I work with students on a variety of skills: writing CVs and cover letters, preparing a portfolio of professional materials (videos, recordings, writing samples), and experiencing mock auditions and teaching presentations which mimic the professional environment. I also offer guidance and direct assistance to students with their preparation for opportunities in the field such as jobs applications, auditions, competitions, conferences, and forming connections with potential peers, mentors, and collaborators.