“When I took the position here at EWU in 2003, I was thrilled to come back as an Alum to work with the students here, knowing that I might be able to inspire other young artists to develop their talents and see where it might take them as it has for me.”
Since Jody Graves came to EWU as a faculty member in 2003, she has been an outstanding professor who continues to inspire her students every day. And when it was announced that she was going to be inducted into the Steinway Teachers Hall of Fame, everyone who has worked with her knew it was well deserved.
Professor Graves has always put her heart and soul into teaching and has always seen it as more than just showing students how to play piano. “I believe in the true meaning of ‘educare’ (educate) which is to cultivate and draw out of the student the talents, skills and knowledge that are already present in them.”
Starting when she was 3 years old, Professor Graves learned the piano from her mother until she was sent to a teacher for further training at the age of 5. She enjoyed singing, trying out different melodies, and listening to records and playing tunes by ear. Ever since then, Professor Graves has been playing as a soloist and a collaborative artist in every kind of venue from international concert stages to nightclubs, festivals, and funerals.
“I had no idea that by learning the instrument I love I would be on a trajectory that took me from playing little house concerts in Wenatchee, WA to serving as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department in the Middle East where I have played concerts and talked with government leaders on the role of fine art in our respective countries.”
The Steinway honor is given to teachers “for their outstanding instruction and leadership in acoustic piano teaching. They use Steinway instruments in their teaching and performing practice and are influential with their time and talents in the region where they reside, and viewed by professional artists across the country as a top teacher of piano.”
Professor Graves is always working to keep her skills honed for the concert stage through daily work at the piano, which really helps her to be creative with her teaching. She works with students in one-on-one settings that foster an environment of trust and willingness to learn, and she works hard to pass on the knowledge of artistic delivery to her students.
“Music, of any kind, is not a peripheral activity. It is at the center-point of every culture and reminds us of our humanity, our dreams, and our memories. If I can be a small part of bringing something beautiful to a hurting world, then my training and talent has accomplished its mission.”
Even while serving as EWU’s director of piano studies, Professor Graves has continued to have a very successful career as a performer. It is important to her that she maintains her own work at the highest possible level so that she can ensure her students are getting the best instruction on piano performance.
“It is joyful, enriching and exhausting at times, but totally worth it!”
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