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Call him the accidental professor. An internationally renowned trumpet soloist with an often-hectic performance schedule and a succession of music ministries at large congregations, Terry Everson never intended to teach. But he fell hard for it, and in his 15 years as a College of Fine Arts associate professor he has been a role model, an imaginative musician’s musician whose influence extends far beyond the studio to live performances, where his students are inspired and learn by example. To the extent that such stereotypes ring true, he admits he’s always embodied the horn personality—an extrovert with a hearty ego—one in high demand for a sound rich enough to fill the biggest concert halls.
But Everson has imparted to his students another quality: humility. It has, he says, made him as well as his students better, harder working, and more generous musicians. And it is one of many reasons he is a 2014 winner of one of the University’s highest teaching honors—the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching.
In Everson, students have one-on-one access to an artist in his musical prime and a champion and critic who challenges them to play with commitment and passion. With characteristic good humor, he nudges, inspires, and implores his students to “ascend to the next level of playing,” one of those who nominated him for a Metcalf Award wrote. “If a student has been working on a piece of music, he will never say that it has been learned perfectly or there is nothing more to work on. With Professor Everson, there is always something to work on and make better, and he demonstrates through his own playing and teaching that there is a next level and he wants us to get there.”
A frequent substitute trumpeter with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, Everson teaches courses in trumpet studio, orchestral techniques, and chamber music. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s in music, trumpet performance, from Ohio State University. A soloist, composer, and church musician, Everson, who displays the restless exuberance of a Major League coach, has produced or appeared on numerous CDs and won national honors for his work with the New England Brass Band.
“I backed into college teaching,” he says. As a performer he was “minding my own business” in Philadelphia, when he was first wooed to a teaching job at the University of Kentucky. After four years there he took a yearlong break, but found himself back in a faculty position when he was offered a spot at the School of Music. By then he was well known in the trumpet world, having first gained international attention in 1988, winning (on consecutive days) both the Baroque/Classical and 20th Century categories of the inaugural Ellsworth Smith International Trumpet Competition, and going on to land First Prize laureate of the 1990 Louise D. McMahon International Music Competition.
There’s an old joke about the trumpet player’s handshake, Everson says. “I reach out to shake another trumpeter’s hand and say, ‘Hi, I’m better than you.’” But his seminar is all about camaraderie and constructive criticism. He also teaches the 17 musicians in the seminar, from freshmen to doctoral students, one-on-one. “I tell the students, you will spend a lot of your career working to get along with other players,” he says, and he devotes much of the seminars to student critiques of fellow trumpeters’ performance. Cooperation “is a better life skill than competition,” so he strives to cultivate a learning atmosphere that tolerates “none of the backstabbing associated with trumpet players.” What his teaching does impart is joy. “I truly enjoy music,” he says.
It’s infectious. Another student wrote that Everson “routinely thrusts his students into professional settings, as both spectators and participants, exposing them to a standard of sound and practice available to few. For trumpet ensemble, he regularly composes new works, conducting and playing alongside students to ensure they are concert-ready. The performers who emerge are confident beyond their years, many winning international competitions before becoming established artists and teachers themselves.”
“Terry Everson is probably the most supportive teacher I have ever had,” wrote one of his graduate students. “He will not question my ability to meet the expectations of my chosen field but will spend every moment necessary helping me find the reason why any performance may not have met my own expectations. Then, he does his absolute best to guide me on the path to fixing any issue that comes to light.”
Everson delights in his students’ successes. In his studio, which houses a grand piano and a shelf crowded with mutes ranging from elegant brass designs to a wooden model to the rubber heads of toilet plungers, much of the wall space is devoted to photos of students and former students. In March, freshman Rebecca Oliverio (CFA’17) took second prize in the Undergraduate Division of the 2014 National Trumpet Competition in Pennsylvania. “The NTC is the premier event of its kind,” Everson says, “and the Undergraduate Division is consistently the most competitive (most contestants are upperclassmen) of its various categories, this year attracting about 130 entries from students across the country.” Many of his students have gone on to stellar musical careers, including positions in conducting and coaching as well as performance.
“One of the richest rewards of a teaching career is seeing students begin to attain their dreams,” says Everson, whether it’s Karin Bliznik (CFA’06) winning the Saint Louis Symphony principal trumpet position this year, Kevin Maloney (CFA’05,’07) coaching Grand Valley State’s trumpet ensembles to the National Trumpet Competition, Jamie Teot (CFA’05) conducting a high school choir, or Mayo Clinic medical resident Nate Tighe (CFA’08) writing music and giving educational concerts. “The fact that all of these alumni keep me up-to-date on their successes and/or struggles and continue to seek my advice in their careers convinces me that my students have caught the spark I’ve endeavored to pass on,” he says.
Principal trumpet for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Everson is an accomplished pianist and composer as well. This semester he arranged for his trumpet class to receive coaching from the entire trumpet section of the BSO. “He was able to do this because his colleagues at the BSO hold him in such high regard,” one of his colleagues told the nominating committee. “It is an educational opportunity that few teachers aside from Everson are in any position to provide.”
But for Everson, success is also defined by seeing his students “reach beyond what they thought possible,” he says, and “to affect lives through what they learned from me about music.”
A gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a BU Board of Trustees chair emeritus and former professor, funds the Metcalf awards, created in 1973 and presented at Commencement. The Metcalf Cup and Prize winner receives $10,000 and the Metcalf Award winners receive $5,000 each. A University committee selects winners based on statements of nominees’ teaching philosophy, supporting letters from colleagues and students, and classroom observations of the nominees.
This year’s other Metcalf Award winner is Alan Marscher, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of astronomy. The 2014 Metcalf Cup and Prize winner is Stormy Attaway, a College of Engineering assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
More information about Commencement can be found on the Commencement website.