Steven Havens, who began playing the piano at 4 and at age 8 launched formal piano training at Mount St. Claire College in Clinton, Iowa, felt that teaching was OK for other people but was not right for him.
That is, until he began his college career as a music major. Havens observed his instructor fine-tune both the art of music and the art of teaching, "and both kind of came together for me. It was absolutely amazing."
The bulk of Havens' work at COD is in studio piano, one-on-one. He also teaches group piano and has taught music appreciation. Moreover, he served as a piano accompanist for the DuPage Chorale on tour and performed as soloist with the DuPage Chamber Orchestra and Concert Band.
"Teaching becomes a powerful thing when you work very hard at becoming the very best that you can be as a musician and then when you share that knowledge with students," Havens said.
Havens, who has taught at College of DuPage since 1990, gains satisfaction from the "shared enterprise" with his students: "two imaginations coming together to try to reveal the highest a musical composition might have to offer. It is really wonderful to share that and to work very hard myself to try to find what is going to click with each student. There are different expectations, different capacities and then to see it all come together is very rewarding.
"And you are able to say, 'Ahhh, that person got it.'"
Havens earned his bachelor's degree in Music from Western Illinois University, a master's in Music from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in Music from the University of Iowa.
The secret to Havens' success is to first be the best musician he can be, and then to set about crafting a path for each of his students, starting from where each student happens to be.
"I have to diagnose my students' prior experiences, what their expectations are and their aptitude at the moment, and then I must try to find out what is going to make each student have a truly meaningful experience with music because, ultimately, I am out of the picture. All I can do is coach things into place and see what happens.
"I have to turn the lights on."