Alumni Spotlight: Aline Schmidt-Zawadowski
In celebration of our 60th anniversary, we will feature NSMS alumni as part of our Alumni Spotlight series throughout 2020.
Which years were you at NSMS?
I taught at NSMS from 2007-2010.
What is a favorite NSMS memory?
In addition to so many beautiful musical moments from my students and the inspiring teaching demonstrations from my colleagues, I liked how at the New School we took time to celebrate, even if it was only for five minutes between finishing assignments and starting lessons. Besides the birthdays (somehow there was always a cake ready in the kitchen when it was somebody’s birthday), I had a surprise graduation party at the kitchen, I attended two baby showers and had my own bridal shower in the classroom with the entire faculty and even my husband as a special guest.
But if I have to choose one memory, that would be Christmas time. It summarizes the joy of music making that was present in my everyday routine at the New School, the dedication of teachers and students, and the strong friendships we developed. It was a special time. Students and teachers seemed to regain energy. In addition to the regular program, Christmas tunes sounded from every room. The faculty had a special Secret Santa and we surprised each other with little gifts that we had to hide. The grand finale was the Christmas lunch when we all got together. I still have a pot scraper shaped as a piano lid that a New School Secret Santa left on my desk with a sweet note saying that it would be useful. I had no idea what it was when I first saw it, but 13 years later it is still one of the best items in my kitchen.
What are you doing now?
I currently live in Budapest, Hungary, with my husband and three daughters. I run a piano studio called Budapest Piano Lessons, where I teach piano students from expat families.
What role does your education at NSMS play in your life today?
It would be obvious to say that I would not be the music teacher I am today without my New School years, but more than that, there are learning and teaching strategies that we intensely worked on at the New School, such as “Prepare-Introduce-Reinforce”, or “Long and Short term planning”, that I find myself applying to different areas in my life, as a teacher, as a mother, or when I challenge myself to learn something new.
I was also impacted positively by the diversity of teaching styles I observed and how the faculty was encouraged to learn from each other. I try to reproduce this environment in my life outside teaching, reaching for people with different interests and abilities for sharing experiences.
And there was a conversation with Louise that always comes back to my mind. One Monday morning we met in the kitchen and I asked how her weekend was, whether she had done anything special. She smiled and said: “I do something special everyday.” And indeed, as teachers and musicians, we can all do something special every day.
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