Professor Emeriti Receives Standing Ovation at National Conference
2005. 04. 08.
CALDWELL (Idaho)- Five hundred music teachers packed into an auditorium to hear Retired Albertson College of Idaho Piano Professor Fern Nolte Davidson speak during the Music Teachers National Association's national conference in Seattle earlier this month.
The crowd was rewarded with words of wisdom and humor from the 97-year-old who calls herself a technique fanatic and a fifth finger freak. The topic of her talk was 'Basics at the First Lesson and Forever More.' The crowd gave Nolte-Davidson a standing ovation at the end of her presentation.
'It was so exciting, there was standing room only,' she said. 'Some people even asked me for my autograph!'
Nolte-Davidson was joined by her former students, Marvin Blickenstaff, Phillip Keveren and Susie Skerm, for the conference April 2-6. All three have made music part of their own careers.
Nolte-Davidson began teaching piano more than seven decades ago.
'My dad told me about a music teaching position open in Meridian. It was already fall and they had no one to teach,' Fern explained. 'Well I didn't know about teaching little kids.'
But Fern took a chance and managed to learn a lot about teaching children in two years. After leaving her teaching position in Meridian, Fern took on private students. In 1953 she began teaching at the College of Idaho.
'I had two girls taking piano from me who wouldn't go to the college unless they could study under me,' she said. 'So with a bachelor's degree I was hired on to the faculty part-time.'
Over the years, Fern taught hundreds of college students how to be excellent piano teachers.
Presenting at the conference is far from the first distinction Fern has earned. In 1998, the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Foundation established the Fern Nolte Davidson Endowment Fund. The fund, instituted by a contribution from the Idaho Music Teachers Association (IMTA) in honor of Davidson's lifelong concern for improvements in the art of piano teaching, provides financial assistance to music teachers for private study, collegiate course work, or special projects.
In 1984, the College of Idaho awarded Davidson an honorary doctorate. A graduate of Fletcher College, Davidson received the IMTA Teacher of the Year Award in 1995. Also among Davidson's many distinctions is a Master Teachers Certificate from MTNA, the Idaho Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Distinguished Citizen designation awarded by The Idaho Statesman.
While there is no doubt Fern is proud of the honors she has won over the years, her biggest reward comes from teaching. And that is just what she plans to continue to do. For now, Fern has two young students and several adult students, but she says she always welcomes more.