When not performing at Lyric or Grant Park, violist Amy Hess can be found teaching students within her private studio and is also on faculty at the Fulton Summer Music Academy.
Created by Amy and her husband, violinist Addison Teng, the Fulton Music Society was started during the height of the pandemic and has grown from an online-only festival into a fully-fledged nonprofit whose programs include the 4-week Fulton Summer Music Academy among others. This year's FSMA students’ ages range from 12 to 35 providing a unique experience for all involved. “The older students gain valuable mentorship experience, and the younger students have role models to look up to,” Amy explains.
Her responsibilities at the FSMA are reflected by their aim to teach students to think critically and intensively. She can be found coaching chamber music, reviewing students’ weekly essays, monitoring practice sessions, leading stretching classes and technique classes, and is otherwise as involved as she can be. Fulton’s mission is to nurture thoughtful, well-rounded students through dedicated music study. By emphasizing skills and experiences that translate beyond their instruments, Fulton’s students will be ready to lead in any field they choose.
Amy elaborates, “The students who grow the most through our programs are not always the best players or those who want to pursue music as a career. They are the ones who are making the effort to learn how to persevere, question, reflect, analyze, and ultimately become their own best teacher whatever the field. This kind of detailed thinking is a life skill applicable to any endeavor.” Anyone learning to play an instrument will eventually have to ask questions that extend into other areas of life. Amy explains, “Music is not just about music. Are you ok with a pursuit where it is impossible to be "the best"? Can you work through nerves and self-doubt? Are you organized? Do you have self-discipline?”
Amy and the Fulton Music Society are dedicated to helping students find these answers, connecting the dots between student life and the professional world. Amy states, "I find teaching incredibly fulfilling, a way to affect people's lives through music that's different from performing. Teachers have the immense privilege and responsibility to take part in helping their students reach their fullest potential.”
Violist Amy Hess helping a student edit his essay