Brenda Brenner, a violinist and pioneering music educator who is currently an assistant professor of music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, will deliver Carleton’s convocation address on Friday, Feb. 15. Brenner’s talk, entitled “Finding Our Shared Humanity: Cross-Cultural Connections in Music,” will discuss her influential work with underprivileged and underachieving elementary school students in Bloomington, Ind. Convocation is held from 10:50-11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, and it is free and open to the public. Convocations are also streamed live and can be viewed online at http://apps.carleton.edu/events/convocations/.
Brenner has been widely recognized for her work in music education; she has attempted to perfect methods of teaching music to children and to tie music education to overall improvement. Brenner has led a program (funded by anonymous donors) that brings string instruments to Fairview Elementary School, which serves low-income sections of Bloomington. Brenner and other instructors, including Brenner’s own students from IU, teach first-grade classes at Fairview several times per week as part of the program. Brenner’s research explores whether music education can have a positive impact on children’s lives and on truancy rates. Brenner has said that she hopes to create a model for other schools in Indiana, where musical education in public schools generally does not start until fifth or sixth grade.
“I'm not just teaching where to put your fingers and how to sound good on the instrument; I'm teaching a whole variety of different skills that are necessary," Brenner told IU’s website before the start of the program. "And if there turns out to be no measurable academic effect, that's OK with me too, because we're going to have a great time, and we're going to love to play the violin together."
Brenner is no stranger to Carleton; she taught in the music department before leaving in 1993 to take a position at Indiana University. She previously returned last September for a concert with Carleton pianist Ken Huber, a long-time collaborator who has performed with Brenner in concerts across the United States. Before coming to Carleton Brenner served as an instructor at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, where she was a member of the award-winning Augustine Quartet. In addition to her teaching position, Brenner is also the assistant director of the IU String Academy and the IU Retreat for Professional Violinists and Violists, and she teaches and conducts in the IU Summer String Academy.
For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.