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Faculty Profile: Dr. Rachel Heard

by Web on February 9, 2015

One of Dr. Rachel Heard’s greatest pleasures in life is teaching students who are experiencing music for the first time.A Millsaps faculty member since 2002, Dr. Heard, associate professor of music, teaches piano at all levels and serves as the director of the Millsaps Conservatory of Music. Opened in the fall of 2014, the Millsaps Conservatory is a new community music school on the Millsaps campus, offering non-credit music lessons and classes to students of all ages. Dr. Heard founded the conservatory with the help of Professor Joe Donovan in the Else School of Management. In true Millsaps spirit, graduate students of Donovan’s were also involved in the design of the school. Millsaps College has also established a new partnership with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, providing MSO musicians the opportunity to teach at the Conservatory. In the future and as the conservatory develops further, it will serve as an observation studio and classroom for Millsaps College music majors interested in teaching.

Music is involved in all facets of Dr. Heard’s life. She is married to associate professor of music and pianist Dr. Lynn Raley. Together they have a 16-year-old daughter, Gillian, who studies cello through the Millsaps Conservatory of Music. The three spent the 2012-13 academic year abroad in Taiwan after Dr. Raley was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant. While in Taiwan, Dr. Heard gave lecture-recitals on 18th-century performance practice on the fortepiano and provided performance coaching.

The historical development of the piano has been Dr. Heard’s research field since her doctoral work at Rutgers University. Over twenty years ago, she purchased a fortepiano that is a custom-made replica of an instrument found in Vienna during the 1790s. Dr. Heard travels all around the world, and has performed on the fortepiano across the U.S. and Canada, in Taiwan, and most recently in Europe. Her third CD recording will be released this spring.

Dr. Heard received her bachelors and masters of music from The Juilliard School, and her doctor of musical arts from Rutgers University. For Dr. Heard, teaching music at Millsaps is unlike teaching at a large research university with a separate school of music, or a college-level conservatory. At Millsaps, Dr. Heard is able to explore her passion of helping all students find and develop their creative musical “voice.”

“In a traditional school of music, I would be teaching music majors almost exclusively, within a curriculum that focuses primarily on music at the undergraduate and graduate level,” said Heard. “At Millsaps, my world is filled with all types of students who love music. Students are reaching beyond their majors, to experience all that a liberal arts education has to offer. As a result, I have been very fortunate to teach some of Millsaps’ best and brightest.”