SJSU professor fills in as guitar teacher

March 10, 2016 — by Karissa Dong and Katherine Zhou

Music director Anthony Lanzino, who taught the guitar course and AP Music Theory, left the school due to family reasons. 

Junior Anna Dutro walked into her sixth-period class, Modular Guitar Study, one afternoon in late November and learned that music director Anthony Lanzino, who taught the guitar course and AP Music Theory, had left the school due to family reasons.

For the next two months, the class that Dutro enjoyed remained without an instructor, with only 15 students continuing at semester after several dropped the course ― until Dr. Steven Lin was selected, in early February, to pick up where Lanzino had left off.

“[Lin] is a very patient teacher, which is a really good quality,” Dutro said. “So far, [we’ve] been covering the basics.”

Lin received an email alerting him about the position from music director Michael Boitz and applied for the job. He has taught guitar at San Jose State University (SJSU) since 2008 and runs private lessons in his studio for young musicians. Lin, who picked up the guitar at age 14, has been playing the instrument for over two decades.

“I grew up in Taiwan and wanted to learn how to play pop music,” Lin said. “My guitar teacher told me that pop guitar consists of just a couple of chords, and he [encouraged me] to try classical guitar.”

Because Lin played violin for a couple years as a child, he could read sheet music and quickly transitioned to classical guitar. Since then, he has studied at the New York Conservatory as an undergraduate guitar performance major before studying at Yale University for his Masters degree.

“For most musicians, you want to come out performing but also teach [at the same time],” Lin said. “As time has gone on, I’ve performed a little less and taught more, and now I teach a lot more.”

In Modular Guitar Study, Lin has taken an unconventional approach to teaching. Unlike college classes, which are centered around a single teacher’s interpretation of course material, this class is being taught “more like a P.E. or art class,” in which all students have their own individual projects to work on, and he monitors the progress of individuals.

Lin observed that even though college students are supposed to be more mature, high schoolers improve much faster because they have classes almost every day of the week, as opposed to once a week in college. He also observed that his own high school, Taipei American School (TAS), has its similarities to SHS.

“They’re [both high standard institutions], and I knew that there was a certain calibre of students at SHS,” Lin said. “The students are really wonderful, and there’s not much more a teacher can ask for because you have pretty intelligent students who are very respectful, and everyone wants to put in some work.”

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