University of South Carolina

Bob Jesselson and student
Kristian Ring and Bob Jesselson in a one-on-one studio lesson

Top teaching award

If you’re developing a mental picture of Jesselson as equal parts drill instructor, mentor, coach, and advisor, you’re on the right track. Cello instruction demands attention to technique and interpretation of the composition—but Jesselson’s instruction goes far beyond.

“A good music teacher has to be much more than just a good musician,” he said. “We teach history -- what was happening in the world when a particular piece of music was written -- and physiology and anatomy -- how to use the body effectively and efficiently to avoid tendonitis and performance anxiety.

“We are psychologists in a sense because musicians tend to be very right brained and don’t always see the logical steps necessary to reach their goals. It’s a matter of helping them learn how to think. And we are philosophers as well.”

Elizabeth Riley, a junior performance major, said Jesselson’s approach reflects “his mission to make us well-rounded cellists as well as well-rounded people.”

A cello professor with high standards and a sense of humor? A disciplined yet broad approach to teaching and a generous commitment of time to every student? Sounds like the high notes of a long and productive career—and the stuff for which a distinguished teaching award is given.

Editor’s note: Five of Jesselson’s pre-college cellists will perform works by Bach, Elgar, Schumann, Kabalevsky, and Saint-Saens and 10 cellists will perform a cello choir piece together on May 1 at 3 p.m. in the School of Music’s Recital Hall. Admission is free.

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