Zach Collins

Zach Collins

Zach Collins knows that nobody picks up an instrument for the first time and is a virtuoso. It takes time and consistent effort, and that’s one of the things he enjoys about teaching in the Department of Music. Learn about him in this installment of Meet Our Faculty.

What is it about music that initially drew you in—and ultimately keeps you interested?

I was initially drawn to music because of the group aspect. It was fun to be with friends but also to create something that was bigger than my individual part. I always enjoyed that as a member of the band. We caused people to cheer at games, to reflect at concerts, and hopefully to smile.

Those things stay the same today. While I have done a lot of solo playing, my favorite times come from playing in ensembles. I like the spontaneity of collaboration in live performances, and I appreciate providing opportunities for those in the audience to relax and experience the emotions that music leads us to. 

What do you like about teaching music students and tuba/euphonium?

First off, I love getting to know my students. We see each other one-on-one, at least once a week, every week, for three-and-a-half to four years. I get to know what makes them tick, I understand when and why they may be struggling, and I can offer help or, in some cases, just listen.  

Musically, I like teaching them how to teach themselves. Much of music education is problem-solving. We are trying to figure out how to make difficult things easy. The pathway to get from difficult to easy is rarely the same for any two students, so I like the challenge of discovering what will be helpful for each student. It brings me the greatest joy when they discover how to solve an issue or find new music on their own.  

What advice would you give students about how to succeed in college?

Time management in both the short term and the long term. Students need to be patient and understand that consistently good work will result in significant improvement. But, it is a long-term investment.

It can be daunting and overwhelming for first-year students to realize what they need to learn and improve over four years. I suspect this is true in just about every major here at IUP. But, the goal isn’t to be a virtuosic teacher or performer in a day—it is a long journey.

But, that journey is made up of semesters, months, weeks, and days. While the journey to being a proficient musician is long, successful students will do the work on a daily basis. Pretty soon, a week’s worth of good progress turns into a month’s worth of noticeable progress, and so on. So, while musical development is a long process, each day is important to take a step toward development.