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Distinguished teaching award for Volk

Dr. Maureen Volk (Photo by Sheilagh O'Leary)

By Janet Harron

Dr. Maureen Volk of the School of Music has received an Association of Atlantic Universities Distinguished Teaching Award for 2011.

A faculty member since 1979, Dr. Volk teaches piano, piano literature, studio pedagogy, piano pedagogy, aural skills and considers hers "the best job in the world – it's hard to imagine anything more fun."

She emphasizes the pleasure derived from working with students when they are young and figuring out what to do with their lives and says her approach to teaching is a "combination of humanist and geek."

"I try to avoid using the word 'should' when dealing with and thinking about students," explained Dr. Volk of her humanist leanings. "Thoughts like 'They should be able to do this,' 'They should know this by now,' or 'They should be working harder' prevent us [as teachers] from figuring out what students actually need from us."

Her "geek" approach stems from being a self-described obsessive musician and scholar.

"I get a kick out of wrestling with abstractions and trying to create order out of intellectual and aural chaos ... I also put a lot of effort into organizing my courses – a well organized curriculum makes learning easier."

Dr. Volk was commended by the association for the time and attention she devotes to her students and the resources she has developed to enhance students' learning.

She in turn commends the development of the Teaching and Learning Framework by the Office of the Vice-President (Academic), calling it "a positive sign that the university hasn't lost that side of its mandate."

Dr. Volk was president of the Canadian University Music Society from 1997-99 and director of the School of Music at Memorial from 1990-2000. In 2008 she received Memorial University's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.
"Great teaching involves a continuous process of learning and self-reflection," said Dr. Ellen Waterman, director of the School of Music. "Maureen is a model and an inspiration for both students and colleagues at the School of Music, and this award is a fitting recognition of her leadership as an educator."

This fall will see Dr. Volk showcase her performance skills in a series of concerts throughout western Canada with fellow faculty member, soprano Jane Leibel.Dr. Maureen Volk