The Oklahoma Music Teachers Association recently selected Roger Price, professor of music at the University of Tulsa, as its 2008–09 Distinguished Teacher of the Year. The award is particularly special because Price’s students spearheaded the effort.
“I have never met a fellow student of Dr. Price that was not in complete awe of his abilities on the stage and in the studio,” says Karl Johnson, a junior music composition major from Tulsa. “In addition to a great passion for his craft, he has an even greater passion for his students as human beings, and that has been the most inspiring and encouraging part of being in his studio.”
Price has composed, performed and premiered his own piano concertos in Europe, an extraordinary accomplishment for an American. In addition to his numerous appearances as a recital soloist and collaborative musician, he has performed with such orchestras as the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra led by Jerzy Swoboda, the New York Solisti with Ransom Wilson and the Tulsa Philharmonic with Bernard Rubenstein. Price also has gained national recognition as a church music composer through his works published through St. James Music Press. This spring his new composition “Winds, Flames of Fire” for piano duet (two performers at one piano) has received its world premiere in Cyprus and Ukraine.
Rachel McCarthy, a 2003 graduate in piano performance and Spanish, knew Price was a natural fit for OMTA’s award. His long list of international accomplishments, in addition to his Oklahoma roots, made him an ideal representative of Oklahoma’s musical talent. But it was his teaching that truly set him apart. His dedication to students on an individual level greatly enhanced their development, professionally and personally.
“Now that I am a piano teacher myself, I call to mind things he taught me; I think that’s the mark of a good teacher: leaving a legacy,” says McCarthy. “He never puts his students into a mold but encourages them to find their own right path, whether that’s in music or not. And this has led to a huge variety in the accomplishments of his students.”
Last year, McCarthy coordinated with former and current students as well as his wife, Jan Price, to nominate him for the award. They kept the nomination a secret and surprised him later on when he received a letter from OMTA announcing his selection.
“The idea that they would take the time to put together this effort, that is really the honor for me,” says Price. “I have studied with some of the past recipients of this award and have worked with many of them, so for me to be on the same list with them is an amazing feeling.”
Unanimously selected by the OMTA board for this year’s award, Price also will be the Oklahoma nominee for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) 2009 Distinguished Teacher of the Year. The national award honors one teacher in the country who has exhibited outstanding professional achievement and shown evidence of teaching excellence throughout a career in music. The award also recognizes accomplishments and contributions to the organization at the state and local level.