“To stimulate thinking you must ask questions. The instant you give YOUR philosophy, the thinking stops. What you want is for them to think for themselves.”Dr. Eph Ehly
It’s difficult to describe the impact that Eph Ehly has had on the choral profession. In fact, it may be impossible to quantify. He has cultivated the passion to teach and conduct in multiple generations of young teachers. He has impacted thousands upon thousands of singers in honor choirs, and in his own choirs. Perhaps I can only illustrate this with an anecdote. He was my teachers in the late 1990s, but also inspired my mother to become choir director while directing the South Dakota All-State choir in the 1970s. He is truly an intergenerational choral legend. Meanwhile, in Idaho, he came to work with my wife’s collegiate ensemble where he inspired Beth to come to Kansas City for her Masters. Where she and I then met! So, when I say I owe this man a lot, I mean a lot.
In this episode, Dr. Ehly and I discuss the changes he has seen in the choral profession over the decades as well as what has stayed the same. We discuss his philosophy of education, and where he sees music fitting into that philosophy. We also discuss the concept of teachers being models of curiosity rather than the source of answers.
Named “one of the most sought-after choral conductors/clinicians” by The American Choral Directors Journal, Eph Ehly is renowned as a conductor, author, and lecturer. Ehly has appeared in 48 states, as well as Canada, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and several countries throughout Europe, and presented on more than 100 college and university campuses. DCINY’s Maestro Jonathan Griffith—the recent winner of the 2014 American Prize in Conducting—comments: “Dr. Eph Ehly has been a major influence in my life, not only musically but also personally. Much of who I am today as a conductor goes back to the early days of my doctoral studies at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and specifically with my daily contact with Dr. Ehly. It is a sincere privilege to honor this wonderful and giving musician and human being.”
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After 27 years of service – and conducting over 80 All-State Choirs, and over 600 festival ensembles – Dr. Ehly retired from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City. He also served an Interim Professorship at the University of Oklahoma in 2006-07. More than 90 Doctorate and 100 Masters Degree students have graduated under his supervision. He imparts a lifetime of wisdom and expertise in his popular memoir, “Hogey’s Journey,” published by Heritage Press, and Hal Leonard Publishing Company released a series of video master classes which feature Dr. Ehly’s philosophies in conducting and rehearsal techniques. He has received numerous important teaching awards and fellowships.