Charlotte Mabrey: Percussionist Extraordinaire Bids Farewell to UNF

mabrey 600Charlotte Mabrey started teaching percussion in the Department of Music at the University of North Florida (UNF) in 1980. Now, preparing to wind up her tenure at UNF, she presented her “last big show” on August 22 and looks back over the years: “I never dreamed I would teach,” she says. “The dream was to play in an orchestra [which she began doing in 1979]. I initially saw the UNF position as a way to become more active in the community.”
Mabrey felt she was not good at teaching in her first few years. UNF was still an upper division college and had few music majors. However, once she was able to recruit a few students, she fell in love with the profession . . . a love that has only grown over the past thirty-five years.
Her dedication and enthusiasm were rewarded when she received UNF’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2001, and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s Arts Award for Education in 2012.
Percussion Ensemble has always been her favorite, she notes, right behind orchestral playing. “What I found was the interaction with my students was exhilarating. In orchestra, there is little opportunity to discuss what is to happen musically. That comes from the podium. Percussion seems to scare conductors, as we can wipe out an entire string section with the single hit of a large gong. As a result, conductors seldom, if ever, look at the percussion section with grand approval. For me, it was always like being an outsider as other sections were coached, complimented and shown the love from the podium. It can be strangely lonely: I was a member of the Jacksonville Symphony for thirty-five years and yet I often felt like I was on the outside of the candy store looking through the window at the others inside.”

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Author: Arbus

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