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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jeremy Benson

           Dr. Jeremy Benson is an Associate Professor of Music from Ringgold, Georgia. He instructs individual flute studies and music literature courses, and he conducts the JSU Civic Symphony. Additionally, he works with the JSU Opera Theatre Company and the Drama Department by conducting musicals; he also played an important role in JSU’s production of Peter Pan this semester.

           Dr. Benson knew that he wanted to attend JSU; in fact, it was the only college he earnestly applied to. He fell in love with the music department as a teenager. However, when he began attending JSU, he was a biology major with hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

           “For three years I studied with the great professors in the biology and chemistry departments, but ultimately I knew that studying music was my passion,” Dr. Benson recalls. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music from JSU then went on to complete his graduate degrees at Florida State University and Rutgers University. His career goals brought him back to Jacksonville.

           “It was my dream to have a university professor position, and the timing of the opening at JSU was perfect for me,” he states. “Everyday I walk through the doors, I am super thankful and fortunate to have one of the best jobs that I could ever imagine! I love working and learning with the students and my wonderful colleagues.”

           Dr. Benson says that one particular aspect he loves about his position is JSU’s dedication to achieving a high level of excellence. He claims that this work environment always challenges him to do his best as a teacher and fellow faculty member. Additionally, the opportunities to build relationships—from private music lessons with students to collaboration for recitals with colleagues—bring great contentment to his career.

           There are several scholarly accomplishments of Dr. Benson’s that exemplify his passion for music. For example, he is currently in the process of recording a new solo album, which he hopes to publish over the summer. Another one of his goals is to promote music by living composers. He is able to do so because he remains active in the musical world by performing at venues around the country.

“In January 2019, our Visiting Assistant Professor of piano, Mr. Julio Barreto, and I were invited to four universities in Texas to perform and give concert recitals,” he tells. “This was a great opportunity for both of us to share our love for music.” The Texas tour concluded with a full length recital at the University of North Texas, which is the largest music school on the country.

           The lectures Dr. Benson gives about piccolo performance practice are well-known in his area of study. He has recently given lectures in Auburn and Texas, and he travels to various other universities throughout the year.

           The achievements that Dr. Benson is perhaps most excited about are the achievements of his students. “Over the past few years, I have had several students graduate from JSU to do great things and start new adventures,” he begins. “From the JSU Flute Studio, we have had students accepted in to master’s and doctoral programs at recognized music institutions, a First Prize Winner at the Music Teacher’s National Association’s annual solo competition, a student who won a national audition into the U.S. Army Old Guard and Fife Corp in Washington, D.C., and several to win local master classes and competitions. Their accomplishments and honors puts JSU music on the map, and I am so happy and encouraged by their successes.”

           One performance in which he and his students recently saw great success was Peter Pan. In January, the Jacksonville Opera Theatre performed the well-known musical at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. Dr. Benson practiced with the musicians as their conductor.

           “Peter Pan was a great experience for me,” he says. “I was rehearsing and planning to conduct the musical, and at the last minute we had to make an unexpected change.  I was working with an undergraduate student, Matthew Davenport, as his conducting teacher in private lessons.  At the last minute, I needed to play in the orchestra to help cover some missing music.  Matt was prepared to conduct the show while I played in the orchestra.  He did an amazing job, and he was very prepared.  This is the level and expectations of our JSU students.”

           Dr. Benson explains that Peter Pan was one of the first shows at JSU that featured actors flying across the stage. “Without a doubt, those students who were cast in roles that involved flying had a great time! This innovative approach to the technical side of the production proved to be worth it!” He goes on to say that the actors who remained grounded also really enjoyed playing characters with such creativity and personality.

           Going to Italy with the Marching Southerners last semester was another great experience for Dr. Benson. As an undergraduate student at JSU, he was a drum major in the Southerners for four years. He claims that his time as a drum major helped him to realize that he didn’t want a job that had nothing to do with making music. This trip encouraged him in the same kind of way.

           “Being around the current Marching Southerners students, directors, and staff inspires me more than I can put into words,” he says. “I love to cheer for the Marching Southerners from the stands when they perform, and I love to travel with them every opportunity that I can! I love being around the students when we all can enjoy just being ourselves and have fun outside of the classroom.”

           Dr. Benson enjoys working with all students on campus—not just music students. He encourages all JSU students to discover/learn something new every day, to build good connections, and to have fun and make good decisions along their collegiate journey. He says that he finds passion and dedication in learners of every major.

However, he does see connecting with students who share his love of music as a truly special opportunity. “Making music is more than just picking up an instrument and making sound,” he shares. “Like all other teachers across campus, we all put a piece of our soul into our efforts. I love when a student achieves more than he or she can ever imagine.  Making music is never an exact or a “right answer” adventure; therefore, there is always a large margin of error.  I enjoy when music students of all ages can be proud of the work that we all do to reach our musical dreams.  I love my role here at JSU, and I hope that the music students can have a job they enjoy as much as I do.” Ʀ��OE�),0h

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