Vicky Fischer Faw named Teacher of the Year by state, national music teaching associations

The N.C. Music Teachers Association and Music Teachers National Association each honored Fischer with their Teacher of the Year awards.

Professor Emerita of Music Vicky Fischer Faw was recognized with Teacher of the Year awards by the North Carolina Music Teachers Association (NCMTA) and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the primary professional organizations for state and national music teachers.

In October, the NCMTA chose Fischer as its state Teacher of the Year. Earlier this month, the Music Teachers National Association named her as the recipient of the national 2022 Teacher of the Year Award. Fischer was selected for the award from among all state-level award winners for her commitment to students and the profession. She will be recognized at the MTNA’s annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 30.

Fischer taught applied piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and a wide variety of other music, study abroad and liberal studies courses, as well as mentored dozens of undergraduate research projects while at Elon for more than 30 years before her retirement in 2021.

Her international career as a performer includes many solo and collaborative concerts on Elon’s campus, and her accomplishments as a scholar have been recognized and supported by many Elon grants and sabbaticals. She continues to contribute to the music program, teaching applied piano as an adjunct professor emerita. New musical projects include the establishment of the first virtual MTNA local chapter, serving western North Carolina, with the goal of bridging gaps in access to music education and training in rural areas.

“Vicky is the epitome of what MTNA recognizes with its national Teacher of the Year Award. She is dedicated to her students, colleagues and the profession,” said Gary Ingle, the national association’s executive director and CEO. “She always approaches her teaching and nonprofit leadership with dedication, professionalism and a great sense of humor. We are so excited to honor her this March.”

Kent Lyman, Meredith College professor of music and NCMTA president, praised Fischer’s dedication to teaching, advancing scholarship of music and piano pedagogy, and expanding access to music education to rural and underserved populations.

“When Vicky Fischer says, ‘I live to serve,’ you know it is much more than just words,” Lyman said. “Dr. Fischer is deserving of this recognition in all of the most important ways.”

In addition to the national award nomination, the NCMTA raised money to establish a MTNA Foundation Fellowship in Fischer’s name. The fellowship will support grants and awards MTNA offers to educators for educational enrichment, community activities and program development.

“I am so proud, grateful and humbled to be honored. I am a performer, a scholar, a musician and a teacher. Being recognized for teaching means the most,” Fischer said. “Being named the State Teacher of the Year is a big honor because it’s from my peers, students and colleagues. When I learned of the national award, my jaw was on the ground. It was totally unexpected.”

Fischer has served NCMTA in numerous roles, including as its elected president. While she was president in 2020, MTNA recognized the North Carolina association as State Affiliate of the Year.

Adjunct Instructor of Music Eden Esters Brown, a 2007 alumna of Elon’s piano performance program, was one of several former students who contributed to Fischer’s nominations through testimonials.

“If you’re lucky, once in a lifetime you will cross paths with someone who completely changes the trajectory of your life. Vicky is my person,” Brown wrote. “She did so much more than provide me a thorough and balanced piano education. She helped connect the seemingly scattered passions and interests of a maturing young lady, and craft out of it a rewarding and long-lasting career. The teacher I am today is a direct result of the teacher that she was to me.”

Fischer still finds joy in teaching, especially one-on-one at the piano. She continues to learn from her students, gaining new insights into the music they study together and discovering new ways to guide them toward becoming accomplished musicians.

“Being a good teacher is the ultimate outcome of being a lifelong learner and an eager, hungry, curious person, a good scholar, a good performer and a good colleague,” she said. “All of those things inform each other. People ask whether I consider myself a musician or a teacher. It’s difficult to see a line there.”

She hopes that by establishing MTNA’s first Virtual Local Music Teachers Association from her home in Sparta, N.C. she can offer online piano and music courses to students in North Carolina’s mountains with limited access to lessons, concerts and cultural events, and facilitate community and support for teachers and students in rural areas. She will draw from what she learned teaching virtually during the pandemic and hopes the Teacher of the Year awards provide a platform to establish a network of educators, students and philanthropy.

“It has helped that hole in my heart of asking, ‘What can I do?’ in the face of inequality. This is something I can do. I can serve my community,” Fischer said. “The greatest reward of this award may be that it gives me the ability to make good things happen.”