As A-State’s director of keyboard studies and music graduate studies, Dr. Lauren Schack Clark has a great passion for her music, her students and Arkansas State.
Dr. Lauren Schack Clark
Place of birth?
New Britain, Connecticut
Why did you choose A-State?
I started with a one-year position, which later became a tenure-track job. When I started, I thought I’d try it out for a while and see what happened, but it turned out that I really enjoyed working here and will be starting my thirteenth year in Fall 2015. Everyone has been very supportive, and Jonesboro is a very friendly place.
Your philosophy on education in seven words:
Success: ten percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration.
What makes a good professor?
Someone who can sympathize with the students; someone who puts the students’ success first; someone who excels in his or her field; someone whose enthusiasm is contagious; someone who works very hard; someone who is organized.
My hobbies are...
working out, gardening and cooking.
What I like about Jonesboro is...
the mild winters and lack of traffic (compared to where I have lived before, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois). Also, people are very friendly. It’s a vital, thriving city, with a lot of potential. In the 12 years I’ve been here, the number of businesses in the city has grown exponentially. I like the fact that people are very positive about A-State; in other places I’ve lived, people were likely to complain about the local universities.
Who was your favorite teacher (and why)?
If I had to choose one teacher, it would be Raymond Hanson, my piano teacher at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford. He is now 95. He is a genius and a philosopher, and performed with the Chicago Symphony when he was still in his teens. His knowledge of the repertoire is phenomenal. He was always losing his glasses, and never looked at the music during lessons; he didn’t have to, because the whole score of any piece I ever played for him was in his head. He is an old-school musician, and is a living link to the traditional way of living a musical life. He grew up hearing live performances from people like Arthur Rubinstein, Rachmaninoff and Josef Hofmann. He still calls me to tell me his latest corny jokes, and to ask if I’m practicing.
Beach or mountains?
I’m from New England, and we have both. Unfortunately, we have neither here in Jonesboro! I guess I like mountains better; I enjoy hiking and seeing beautiful trees, birds, and animals.
My pro sports team is...
Boston Red Sox.
What makes a good student?
Obviously, a good student is someone who shows up on time, does his or her homework, practices piano diligently and creatively, and participates in class. The best students are also those who can look beyond the assignment and see the bigger picture; they can teach themselves, because they know how to learn, and will excel as musicians because they will be lifelong learners.
E-book or hardback?
I like my Nook. I read a lot of fiction.
What does e3 mean to you?
Education is only one third of the equation. A former teacher of mine said that as teachers, we can change the world, one small step at a time. We are trying to enrich and enhance the whole person and create critical thinkers, not just robots who can spit out the answers on tests.
If you could teach another field, which one and why?
I might like to be in some sort of biology or ornithology. I really like studying birds and animals.
What are you working on right now?
This summer, I’m practicing piano about 3 hours a day, and am learning Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2, the first sonata of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, a Bach Prelude and Fugue, and Chopin Etude, and a number of other solo and collaborative pieces which I’ll be performing throughout the coming school year, at Faculty Recital here and elsewhere.
Before I retire I want to...
well, I don’t really think I’ll ever retire, as long as my health and energy hold out. If I do retire from A-State, I’ll probably teach piano privately in my home. I can’t imagine not teaching and not playing the piano.
What music is playing in your car?
Whatever is on KASU at the time. Oddly enough, I don’t listen to music in the car. It’s hard for me not to attend to it too much, and I can get distracted.
The last book I read for fun was...
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. It’s a story about London during the Blitz, and about how the children were sent out of the city to live with other families in the countryside. It’s hard to imagine what people had to endure during that time.
My favorite trip was...
My honeymoon in Paris. By day, I was involved in a festival called The Institute for Advanced Vocal Study, with intensive training for singers and pianists in the French mélodie of Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, and others. Every night, we visited a different landmark in the city. My husband and I were fortunate enough to rent an apartment for a week from a friend of someone involved in the music festival. It was just down the street from the Arc de Triomphe. A few years later, we participated in another music festival in Paris. It’s certainly a magical place.
If I could travel anywhere it would be...
Asia, and I’m going to South Korea and China this fall for a series of recitals and master classes with my colleague, Dr. Sarah Jones-Hayes, who is a wonderful violinist.
The best advice I ever received was...
from my sister-in-law, who said that one should always be oneself. That seems rather trite, but she told me this in reference to things like job interviews. We should each try to find our own strengths and run with them, and not worry if there are some things we have little expertise in yet; there is always time to grow. We shouldn’t try new things just because we might not be fabulous at them. It just means we can try to analyze where we are at any given time and set goals for improvement.
My passion is...
Music! What else?
I wish I could...