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July 2013 Teacher Spotlight

Will Obst - Woodwind Teacher
Heid Music Green Bay

Will[1]Will holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Lawrence University in Instrumental/General Music Education, and has been playing saxophone for 13 years. He is an accomplished soloist, chamber musician and educator, having won a Downbeat award in 2011 and been selected as a winner of the Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition in 2011. He has performed as a soloist with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and the UW-Fox Valley Wind Ensemble, as well as been featured on a concert sponsored by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Illinois. A native of Saint Paul, MN, Will has taught private woodwind lessons to students ranging from age 10 to 65. Will is the baritone saxophonist of the award-winning LUX Saxophone Quartet, and is currently accepting saxophone, clarinet and flute students of all levels.

What makes you a great teacher?
When teaching music, everything centers around your ability to listen. I strive to hear as many details of a student's rhythm, intonation, tone, phrasing, and articulation as possible. From there, it's just a matter of finding the best way to help a student hear how to improve each aspect of those details. Every student is different, and I think to become a great teacher one must freely adapt their teaching style to meet the needs of each student in their studio.

What is your favorite part about teaching?
Those wonderful lightbulb moments where a student is learning something brand new, and suddenly shows on their face "A-ha! Now I've got it!" I take it as the greatest honor to be able to help my students learn musical concepts for the first time, or even expand their knowledge on a concept they have already been taught.
What is the next instrument you would like to master if you had the time?

Considering I already play saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, trombone, and didjeridu, the next instrument I would like to learn and master is something with strings! I've played the upright bass and viola a little, so those instruments might be a good starting point for me to join the world of strings. There is hardly any orchestral repertoire that is written to include saxophone, so one goal of mine is to be able to learn a stringed instrument well enough to play in an orchestra. Green Bay Symphony, here I come!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to compose and produce electronic music on my computer, play didjeridu, and listen to music. I also conduct the Neenah Community Band each week, so for my conducting preparation I like to watch video recordings from famous orchestras and bands, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, and Eastman Wind Ensemble.
What or who is your greatest musical inspiration?
My greatest inspirations come from past teachers, like my saxophone professor Steven Jordheim and conducting teacher Andrew Mast. Not only does their wealth of musical knowledge surpass that of anyone else I have ever met, but they are both the best teachers I've had the privilege to learn from. The way they would impart their wisdom was something to study by itself, and I hope that my style of teaching today reflects the detailed and informed advice that Dr. Mast and Mr. Jordheim gave me while I was their student.

What is the best musical tip you ever received?
I saw Danilo Pérez give a masterclass to a jazz combo at Lawrence University, where he was speaking about efficient practicing habits. He said that everything you do when you practice must be in rhythm. It doesn't matter if it's fast or slow, but every time you practice something on your instrument you must put it into a rhythmic context. To this day I always practice with a metronome, all the time.