EKU’s Rachel Taylor has been awarded 2019 Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Music Teachers Association (KMTA).
Taylor, a 1986 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, is a piano professor and the director of Foster Academy for Musical Excellence, a new department of music at EKU.
Her students have won many prestigious competitions across the nation. Taylor said she tries to put her all in to each student.
“I try my best with every student. I spend a lot of extra hours with them if they need help,” she said.
After graduating from EKU with a bechelors of music degree in piano performance, Taylor earned her masters of music from Northwestern University, followed by a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa.
Throughout her teaching career, she has been a faculty member of the Preparatory Division of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Coe College, Cornell College, Grinnell College, and the Preucil School of Music.
Taylor credits her work ethic and devotion to her mother and father. “My dad was actually in World War II, and he went through the Great Depression. He worked very, very hard. He was a judge and retired as a farmer, so I would see him work long hours in the field,” Taylor said. “My mom is actually a teacher. She spent many hours teaching piano. She was also an organist. I would see her drill work maybe 50 to 100 times before she was satisfied.”
“So I saw that, and that really did help me a lot,” she said.
Taylor practices some of the methods she saw her mom use in her own teaching. “A lot of people don’t realize that. They think, ‘Well I’m not very good at this,’ but they don’t realize they can be, they just need to repeat it 100 times, 50 times. And I do that with my students too. If they have a hard time, I will sit there and I spend that much time with them over and over until I feel like they achieve it,” she said.
Taylor has been teaching at EKU for about 10 years, developing relationships with students and pushing them to be the best version of themselves. She is very passionate and committed to her students, one of which, actually nominated her for this award, along with one of Taylor’s colleagues. “I believe EKU students have a thirst for knowledge and this comes across in their work ethic and enthusiasm.” said Taylor.
KMTA is a nonprofit organization that represents music teachers by providing programs to support composition, performance, research, and teaching in Kentucky.