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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Betsy Cook Weber

Faculty Spotlight on Moores School of Music Choral Studies Director Dr. Betsy Cook Weber

"Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts has supported my dreams for choral music to an extent that I could never have imagined.  My time here has been inexpressibly joyful, and I am inexpressibly grateful." - Dr. Betsy Cook Weber

Q: Please provide your educational history.

A: I grew up in Houston and went to HISD schools K-12 where I had outstanding music teachers.  Thanks to a scholarship from my high school faculty, I was able to go to North Texas for my undergraduate work. I majored in vocal music education with a concentration in piano. I taught in Spring Branch ISD for 7 years in elementary and middle school music and then went to Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., withdrawing my teacher retirement to help pay for that degree. I returned to Houston, taught high school for six years and then began my doctoral studies at UH. I have been there in one guise or another ever since.

Q: What are some fond memories from your journey in the arts?

A: I have wonderful memories of fun rehearsals and beautiful concerts. I love pulling out a piece that I have performed many times and finding something brand new about it. I love discovering that some poet in the 16th century felt exactly about love or life as I do today.

Q: Describe one thing that has surprised you during your career in higher education.

A: Having taught K-12 music, I should not have been surprised to discover that college kids are simply 13 – 16 graders. People are people, and we’re all on a journey. 

Q: What accomplishments in your career do you feel most proud of? 

A: Two national ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) performances, six international choral competitions where we won or placed every time we sang, watching our graduates succeed in the world, whether in music or not.

Q: What specific skills or ideas, which you have cultivated in your area of expertise, do you find valuable in your career now?

A: Over time I have realized the importance of ownership, of letting go and giving control to the singers.  The more I let go, the better the product. 

Q: What do you think are the most important attributes of a good instructor?

A: Passion, discipline, grit.

Q: What is coming up for you in the future that we should watch for?

A: If things were normal, I would have taken Chorale to a competition in the Czech Republic last week, and I would be judging the Bela Bartok Competition in Hungary right this moment. I would be looking forward to engagements in California, Croatia, and Germany, and I would be knee-deep preparing for a very busy Houston Symphony Chorus season.  All of that has been cancelled. On the negative side, I miss the work, the pace, the people, and the music. On the plus side, this has provided me with a wonderful period of renewal and reflection. 

Q: What advice would you have for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts?

A:  Work hard, network like crazy, and keep all of your options open.