An Interview with UCF Fine Arts Dean/Professor of Percussion Jeff Moore

Mike Lawson • GoodVibesJanuary 2021 • January 8, 2021

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Please tell the readers a brief history of you as an artist and educator.

For my undergraduate degree in Music Education, I went to the University of North Texas where I studied with Bob Schietroma, Ron Fink, and Ed Soph. I went to the University of Wisconsin for my Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance and studied with James H. Latimer.

Aside from my formal education, I marched in the Santa Clara Vanguard where I was instructed by Ralph Hardimon and Glen Crosby. When I started instructing the Madison Scouts in 1991, I consider myself very fortunate to have learned under the caption head/arranger at the time, Chris Thompson, after which I was caption head at Madison for many years.

If you had to choose three of the most important lessons that you would like every student to retain from you as a teacher, what would they be?

First, I would like my students to recognize the “transfer value” in all percussion. The percussion family is literally hundreds, if not thousands of instruments, and the sooner we recognize what they all have in common, the better we can perform and expand our abilities on each one. Second, I would like students to take away the concept of time management. With so many instruments and styles of music, plus the fact that most of us will cobble together our career from a variety of activities (teaching, performing, arranging, etc.) it is critical that one learns the discipline to manage tasks and stay on a schedule if you are to be reliable and get everything accomplished. Lastly, I would like students to leave with a sense of excitement about lifelong learning. Education is not a race; you do not need to be at point “x” by this time or you fail. Life is a journey and a very rewarding one if approached with an open mind for new ideas and a sense of gathering “correct” answers, instead of looking for a single “right” answer. That kind of dogmatic approach can be stifling.

As an administrator in your Dean of Arts and Humanities position at University of Central Florida, can you please explain how you have set up your percussion students for success from an administrative standpoint, and how this differs from just teaching?

The role of an administrator is a service position that exists to help others reach their goals and potential. This sounds like a teacher doesn’t it? The topics that I address in my role as Dean covers budget, facilities, personnel, curriculum/degree programs and evaluation. All of these topics impact students, including percussion students. By having my perspective of percussion (and arts in general), I would like to think that decisions are informed by those values and therefore have an overall positive effect on the students, faculty and staff. I often share with young faculty who express frustration with their administration to pursue opportunities to serve in those administrative positions so that decisions will be made with their experiences and goals in mind. The challenge is that we all love our disciplines so much; none of us really want to leave them to pursue administration. As long as this is the case, we may very well be frustrated by our leadership. But if you see the potential opportunities to make a big difference in your programs and students experiences, it falls into your values as an educator to serve in administrative roles.

You are in charge of the overall operations of all of the College of Arts and Humanities at UCF. Are there infrastructure and teaching protocols in place to where percussion students can interact with other students from the other areas of the College? If so, what would they be?

A major goal of mine as Dean is to see an increase in interdisciplinary activity, not just within the college, but throughout the university and community. I have helped refine evaluation criteria to help recognize and incentivize this kind of work. I recognize “discipline integrity” as strength but believe we can increase the impact of all scholarship if we look for connections across disciplines.

Another member of our percussion faculty, Dr. Thad Anderson, is deeply involved in multimedia performance and projects that bring a variety of disciplines together. His influence can be seen in all our percussion students’ activities not just in the traditional collaborations with musical theater, but with new music and avant-garde performances that utilize augmented and virtual reality. Our percussion students are regularly collaborating with visual artists, theater performers, digital media creators as well as dancers.

What are ways that you think all of the fine arts schools can benefit from each other and coordinate to create teamwork success as an overall fine arts school?

We have a strong interest in Themed Experience in the Central Florida area and a new Master of Science degree in Themed Experience that brings together all kinds of disciplines, from Engineering and Computer Science, to Visual Art and Hospitality. Themed Experience usually begins with a great story, so our writers, historians, philosophers and modern language scholars are a great resource for ideas. Once a story has been created, the artists, of all disciplines (depending on the project), can become involved and contribute.

This kind of immersive experience has far greater ramifications than just entertainment. Quality immersive experiences can lead to better educational experiences, job training (simulation and modeling) including health care training. The term “opera” is the plural form of the word “opus,” which literally means “the works.” When it was created it represented all the arts coming together; literature, visual art (sets, costumes, lighting), acting, dance and music. I think Themed

Experience is the 21st century version of “The Works,” and with the continuing evolution in technology there are so many new collaborators and opportunities, the future looks very bright indeed.

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