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Graduating music educator wants to help students discover their own musical journeys

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Shawn Schive, drum major with the ASU Sun Devil Marching Band. Photo courtesy of Mark Quiñones

As a music educator, graduate Shawn Schive said he wants to support students the same way his teachers supported him.

“I come from a family of teachers and grew up with a supportive community of educators around me, so it was a very natural decision to pursue teaching,” said Schive. “When I came to ASU, I knew that I wanted to leave here with my degree and get a job teaching band in a public school.”

Schive, a Barrett, The Honors College student, will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Music degree in music learning and teaching.

“The music learning and teaching faculty at ASU really opened my eyes to the variety of ways that we as educators can reach students and help them discover and cultivate their own musical journeys, and I have become a much more flexible teacher because of it,” said Schive. “I want to be the best musical supporter I can be, regardless of whether my students choose to follow a similar path that I did or forge their own path outside of a musical genre that I am comfortable in. If I can't support diverse student needs and perspectives, I would not be serving my school community in a way that the students deserve. I am committed to developing and facilitating an equitable and inclusive music program.”

Evan Tobias, associate professor of music learning and teaching in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, said, “Whether applying learner-centered principles or supporting students' contemporary musicianship, Sean is an innovative practitioner. He is able to think beyond himself to better understand students' needs and interests and support the students who he teaches.”

Schive received a four-year President's Award for his high school academics, which he said allowed him to attend ASU. In addition, he received Special Talent Awards for his participation and leadership in the ASU Sun Devil Marching Band and an Arizona Teachers Academy grant for two years, which covered full tuition and fees in exchange for work in Arizona public schools after graduation.

He currently studies in the trumpet studio of Joe Burgstaller, associate professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and performs with the ASU Wind Ensemble, the ASU Philharmonia and several brass chamber groups. He is also a drum major for the 400-member ASU Sun Devil Marching Band and a staff member at the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy during the summer, where he teaches leadership, conducting and teaching techniques to high school students from across the United States.

"Shawn embodies our core principles of being an inquisitive thinker and community leader,” said Tobias. “While deepening his own understanding and interests, he's always willing to venture out in new directions and stretch beyond his comfort zone to explore new possibilities for music learning and teaching in thoughtful ways. I'm excited for the students who will have the opportunity to learn with him as he moves these principles into practice in his future music program."

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: As far as focusing on music specifically, I knew this was right for me because of the fabulous music educators I had growing up. Experiences with teachers in band and other musical disciplines throughout my K–12 experience was what kept me motivated in school, and I want to create the same home for my students in my own classroom.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the environment that the School of Music, Dance and Theatre offers to students: a personal connection with students with the resources of one of the largest universities in the country. When I was applying, the ASU faculty made me feel like they wanted me to have a great experience in their program, and I felt like they knew me for the person that I was rather than the information that I wrote on my application. It was the right call.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I think that the most important lesson at ASU was taught to me by my trumpet professor, Joe Burgstaller. He is a fantastic and incredibly effective educator and has a special eye for seeing students as individuals that bring unique values and experiences to a class. He encouraged us as studio members to value each other for our individual strengths and perspectives, and this helped us work as a team rather than seeing each other as competition or making negative comparisons. This was a remarkable lesson that I will take with me on my teaching journey forever.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My best advice to current students would be to continue to find things about ASU that keep them wanting to come back. When you graduate, your diploma represents the classes that you succeeded in, but you will remember so much more about your college experience. Keep going to your club meetings, performing in the Sun Devil Marching Band and playing your intramural sports. Remember to make the most out of the short time that you spend here.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: The Music Building courtyard, of course! Every music student at ASU knows that the courtyard between the East and West buildings is the best place to go for anything you can imagine. It was great to have this common space to run into friends and colleagues, and we even continued the tradition on Facebook through the pandemic.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Immediately after graduation, I am marching my ageout season with the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. Next fall I will be starting teaching in the Valley while continuing to work with some local high school marching band programs. I have been applying for teaching jobs for the last few months and am so looking forward to beginning my public school teaching career.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I had the budget to tackle the problem, I would go for taking steps to solve worldwide educational inequality. A common theme in countries with extreme poverty is the lack of education in differing marginalized groups of people, and I would want to move toward a world where everyone (regardless of income, race, gender or any other determining factor) can have access to an education of quality. I may teach music specifically, but I know that the world of education in general is a door to a brighter future. I envision a world where every big dreamer can open this door and look toward the future that they want to create for themselves.

lamacdon@asu.edu