Timothy Flynn, Ph.D., serves as professor of music at Olivet College. Professor Flynn’s passion for music developed early in his childhood, and he even held the position of organist-choirmaster for a church at just 15-years-old. He has continued to hold similar roles at various types of churches and also has an extensive background in teaching and research. He previously shared his knowledge at Lansing Community College (LCC), Washington College, DePaul University and Northwestern University before coming to OC. Professor Flynn particularly loves teaching at Olivet College because of its relationship-based focus and the ability to work personally with students.
Why do you love OC?
I came to Olivet in fall 2002 as the choir director and music program director. Coming directly from LCC where I was choral director and music theory and history teacher, a number of LCC music students transferred to Olivet to complete their undergraduate degrees. One of the things I love most about Olivet is the intimate learning atmosphere, which I also believe is one of the benefits of studying here. This gives everyone involved in learning — teachers, students and administration — the opportunity to get to know one another better and to support each other. At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, it makes for a family atmosphere.
What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?
Some of my favorite memories during my time teaching at OC include directing the Chamber Singers in concerts in Chicago at Holy Name Cathedral and at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and in Stratford, Ontario. Also, I enjoyed directing musical productions at the Oaks Theatre, including “Godspell,” “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” These times gave me many opportunities to work with students outside the classroom and in completely different roles.
Where do your passions for teaching and music stem from?
My passion for music came from my mother who is a classically trained pianist and singer and who instilled in me a love for music from the time I was a child. My passion for teaching came from two of my undergraduate music history teachers: Sam di Bonaventura, who studied at Yale with Paul Hindemith and Walter Piston, and Tom Brawley who was one of the most dynamic teachers I had in my formative years. Both of these men not only taught from the wealth of knowledge they obtained, but from personal experience, too. Great musicians such as Vincent Persichetti and Walter Piston were family friends of Dr. Sam and stories about their work and friendship brought music history to life. Dr. Brawley’s time teaching in Germany also provided his students with unique views of teaching and music culture. In addition they were both great pedagogues; not because they employed cutting-edge techniques or applied buzzwords and textbook strategies, but because they were passionate about their field and they could instill that into their students. These were the people who made me want to be a teacher.
What is your teaching style like?
I like to engage students in classroom discussion and challenge them to think about music in new ways.
Why do you encourage students to attend OC?
I encourage students to join us at Olivet because of its family-like atmosphere and tight-knit community. I think that this is the key to success for many of our students. Leaving home for school can be difficult, if not traumatic, and having a strong support group of faculty, staff and other students is invaluable. I know that Olivet provides that for students.
What advice do you share with alumni?
Stay connected; keep in touch after graduation and come visit us! I hear regularly from some of the more recent alumni (from 2008 to the present) as well as some of the students in the first class I taught in 2002! It’s great to remain in relationships with these wonderful people. We do love to hear from you!
What is an interesting or little-known fact about you?
I am a lay preacher in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. I also have had two books published as a result of my research on Camille Saint-Saëns and Charles Gounod, and a third one on César Franck will be coming out this year.