For many professional orchestral musicians, teaching in their primary cities is a normal part of their career choice. However, fewer musicians can say that they travel to another state to teach at one of the most prestigious conservatories in the country. Lyric percussionist Eric Millstein does just that. In addition to teaching at DePaul University in Chicago, Eric travels to Philadelphia to teach at the Curtis Institute of Music, a job he began in 2014. “I teach at Curtis 10 times each school year. I'm usually there for about a day and a half each visit. I schedule my visits in groups -- 3 or 4 weeks in a row, then a gap of a month or two, followed by 3 or 4 more weeks in a row, etc.” In these brief visits Eric teaches all kinds of repertoire to the students in private lessons and group classes “from orchestral excerpts to Bach on marimba to jazz vibraphone to talking about life as a professional musician.”
Eric also gets to bring his extensive opera experience to Curtis as he coaches the students on the handful of operas that are put on each year. “I have often used my class time to do a sectional on their opera parts. A particularly memorable class was on John Adams’ Doctor Atomic!”
One of the obvious challenges with being an out-of-town teacher is the travel. However, Eric notes that he has been pretty lucky throughout the years! “I don't mind traveling, but I get worried about flight cancellations, especially during the wintertime. In eight years I've only had one close call, nearly not making it back to Chicago in time for a performance, but it's still a little nerve-wracking.” There are some advantages to traveling, however. “The nice part is that I can really focus on teaching while I'm there. I don't have a rehearsal or performance to get to, and I can't take care of anything that may need to be done at home, either. My only job when I'm in Philadelphia is to teach.” No doubt the students at Curtis benefit greatly from Eric’s undivided attention and care that he takes into teaching them!