De Pedro: Professor, Performer, Person
Jovanni-Rey V. de Pedro always knew he wanted to teach. As a high school student, when asked to envision himself in the future, he saw himself as a professor of music somewhere important.
Now, de Pedro teaches at the University of Idaho.
De Pedro, assistant professor of piano and piano pedagogy, performed a faculty piano recital Feb. 20 in the Haddock Performance Hall of the Lionel Hampton School of Music.
More than fifty people attended the performance which featured nine pieces, three of which were original compositions by UI faculty and students.
De Pedro said faculty recitals, which are on-going, give students inspiration but also allow faculty to show the community and their colleagues what they are working on. He said the recitals provide a friendly audience and positive atmosphere.
De Pedro joined the university in 2014 because the job was a “perfect match” for his interests.
“It included things that I am passionate about and that fit my strengths,” de Pedro said.
His job includes teaching piano students (majors, minors and non-majors) and the pedagogy curriculum, which he described as teaching teachers how to teach. De Pedro also oversees the graduate student curriculum, undergraduate students, the class piano area and is the director of the piano area of Lionel Hampton School of Music Preparatory Division.
De Pedro said his typical day includes a little bit of every part of his job description, as well as practicing and research. He said it can sometimes be hard to balance everything, but he tries to fulfill his job description to the best of his abilities while still taking time off to enjoy life.
“I try to keep a balanced life as much as I can,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that I do, but at the same time, I like to be human.”
Throughout the summer, de Pedro performs all over the world. He said this summer he will be going to Australia, Brazil, Europe and Argentina.
De Pedro, who loves traveling, said his biggest goal for himself as a musician is to play in all seven continents. So far, he has five down, which will hopefully be six after a trip to Kenya this summer, he said.
“When I got to four, there were only three left,” he said. “But I really knew I wanted to go to all seven when I first visited South America.”
As the advisor of UI’s Music Teachers National Association collegiate chapter, de Pedro has travelled with the student group to present and perform at conferences in California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Australia.
De Pedro said he will also be bringing students to Europe this summer. He said he hopes to give students the opportunity to understand where music started and immerse them in other cultures.
Teaching a lot of individual piano lessons, de Pedro said he has a lot of one on one time with students.
“My favorite thing about being a teacher is having a part to do with the growth of students,” de Pedro said. “The small environment really makes a huge difference, and the impact to each student is great.”
Graduate student of piano performance and pedagogy, Morgan Kline, has been taking private lessons from de Pedro for about six months and has had classes with him on and off for the last couple years. Kline said de Pedro has been a great instructor so far and keeps things interesting and exciting.
“He has really high expectations, but he also has a great sense of humor and makes you feel comfortable,” she said. “I go to lessons not fearful but not wanting to disappoint. He really cares a lot and makes you want to reach that level of expectation.”
Kline said de Pedro gives a lot to his students, working after hours to ensure their success and travelling with them. De Pedro even brings students to perform in his recitals with him, she said.
“He goes above and beyond when he doesn’t have to,” she said.
Among multiple other awards, de Pedro received the Steinway and Sons 2017 Top Teacher award in February, which honors outstanding instruction and leadership in piano education. Members of the university community also recently nominated de Pedro for the UI Hoffman Award in Teaching Excellence this year.
De Pedro said the people around him at school and at home influenced him to become a teacher. His father was a pianist, his first teacher and a director of church choirs when de Pedro was younger. Because of this, de Pedro began helping his father teach as a teenager.
“If not piano, I was teaching music at a young age,” de Pedro said. “I didn’t know anything else growing up. It was never really a question.”
Kline said outreach is a major part of what de Pedro does. She said he brings all Lionel Hampton School of Music faculty business cards with him when he travels and tries to get the university brand and name out there.
“It’s so easy to think of music as a dying thing,” Kline said. “Getting the name out there is so important and vital. He really does well in his work and is really effective with his teaching and recruiting.”