DR. VENESILE ENRICHING LIVES THROUGH MUSIC EDUCATION
After orchestrating a music education career that spans more than three decades, Dr. Christopher Venesile has created his own niche in choral music education.
That’s why Kent State University taps his talents as coordinator of the Master of Music in music education online program and as the vocal director of the Kent State University Nova Jazz Singers, a vocal jazz ensemble. “I have developed a reputation as an expert of vocal education,” Dr. Venesile said. “The vocal jazz ensemble is getting to where I would really like them to be: performing at a very high level and tackling challenging literature in many different contemporary styles.”
Versatility has been a constant in his long career, which is why he works in multiple capacities to help leading music educators respond to major changes in today’s schools.
“One of the rare things I bring to my position comes from spending 30 full years in a classroom. That carries with it credibility, as opposed to someone who taught for five or six years. I can identify the trends I notice and share the things that are common to every generation in public school classrooms.”
UNITING VOICES THROUGH ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
Today, creative teachers enjoy a wide array of tools for music education that Dr. Venesile feels passionately about helping students explore. Whether it’s connecting students on a social platform or teaching songwriting on an iPad, it takes an innovative educator to find new ways to accomplish music’s oldest goal — uniting voices.
“Connecting with each other through the participation of making, discussing and analyzing music has remained refreshingly unchanged,” Dr. Venesile said. “We get to see new young people
become enraptured with this thing called music — and witness how it can enrich life.” Through the online Master of Music in music education, he said students have an advantage he lacked in his early education: collaborative learning. Course discussions reveal case studies that help students evolve their perspectives and tactics in music classrooms.
“Sometimes as music educators, we are isolated and only learn by trial and error,” Dr. Venesile said. “I would’ve grown faster and my skills would’ve been better had I had that opportunity to learn best practices from master teachers.”
UNEXPECTED MAGIC IN MAKING MUSIC
Dr. Venesile got his start by following in his father’s footsteps. His father was a band director for 20 years and a college professor for another 20. Dr. Venesile landed his first job at one of his father’s former schools. That was in 1982. Since then, he’s had an emotional journey that encompassed high and low points — from almost quitting to acquiring his Ph.D.
While it was Dr. Venesile’s father who first inspired his career choice, it was his students who kept him going. When he was close to burnout, he achieved so much by working with an incoming freshman class that it reinvigorated his dedication to education. That renewed passion led him to earn his doctorate.
“The closeness and the bond that we shared transcended the daily situation that we were working with,” Dr. Venesile said. “Something about it was just magical. I am indebted to that group. I also felt that they challenged me to be better at my craft.”
CREATING A MOVEMENT
As the coordinator for the Master of Music in music education, Dr. Venesile works closely with faculty to mimic that same magic between teachers and students that inspired him early on. The program benefits from this collaborative momentum and works to push music education forward by motivating students to mine their own experiences from a master’s perspective.
“It’s important to not only maintain our edge, but also stay current about teaching techniques in the field,” Dr. Venesile said. “In addition, studying music education at the master’s level allows the students to investigate aspects of music education on a much deeper level. Why we do what we do. How we do what we do.”