Student learns many lessons from piano teacher

BY JULIA HLAVACIK,
West York Area High School

Jeffery Lynn Snyder is one of the greatest teachers one could ever meet. What makes him so great can’t be traced to one trait. Snyder is an excellent musician, talented performer, and most importantly, one of the most honest, kind and understanding people I know.

I met Snyder when I was 10 years old. I entered the studio for my first piano lesson feeling apprehensive. I left feeling enthralled. His enthusiasm was contagious. I didn’t exactly like the simple exercises I was given to work on, but I knew I wanted to play piano. And so my journey began.

Snyder rarely tells his students about is his own journey through life. He started playing piano when he was 6 years old and has been playing since. After graduating from high school with 12 years of playing experience, he went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree of music education and from there became a teacher. For the first few years of his career, he taught at Dover Intermediate School, but was then transferred to Dover Area High School where he transformed the music program.

The Renaissance Choir was perhaps the greatest testament to Snyder’s sheer, unbridled potential. He started the choir in 1973 and directed it for 29 years. It continues to be the elite choir of Dover.

“The Renaissance Choir was more competitive to get into than the sports teams,” said Carolyn Daugherty, a teacher at West York Area High School and graduate of Dover Area High School. “I didn’t get in.”

What made the Renaissance Choir so extraordinary was the use of unconventional techniques — such as coming off the stage and singing from all around the performance hall — superior voice training and unmatched dedication. During its heyday, the Renaissance Choir toured Europe several times, was invited to perform at the White House and was no stranger to many well-known concert halls across the country, including Carnegie Hall in 1998.

A good teacher can teach his students the subject matter. A good teacher can help a student become a better student. A great teacher, however, doesn’t only teach material. A great teacher helps a student grow as a person as well as helping them to learn. Snyder has been an inspiration and a mentor to many people. He has reached hundreds of students throughout his career and continues to today.

I have been lucky enough to have such a great mentor in my life, and I will never forget the lessons I have learned from him: patience, perseverance, humility, respect, discipline and, most importantly, how to play the piano.

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