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Music professor receives awards for excellence

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Professor Lawrence Stoffel, director of bands at CSUN, conducts his students during rehearsal Tuesday afternoon. Stoffel recieved the 2010 California Music Educators Association’s John Swain College/University Educator Award for his impact on students and fellow music educators. Photo Credit: Christianna Triolo / Staff Photographer

A second CSUN faculty member has received an award from the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) honoring their excellence in music education.

Music professor Larry Stoffel was awarded earlier this month with the John Swain College/University Educator Award, as was professor Mary Schliff, the first CSUN recipient in 2004. Stoffel is the director of bands and the coordinator of wind studies and has been at CSUN since 2004. He said the award was unexpected and the prize humbles him.

“I was quite surprised, nicely surprised,” Stoffel said. “When you’re in a profession like this, you’re surrounded by outstanding musicians and scores of talented people. I can think of any number of people that would be deserving of this.”

The annual award is presented to a California music professor to honor excellence in music education at the college and university level. CMEA presents this award in honor of John Swain who was a faculty member in the music department at Cal State Los Angeles. Swain passed away in 2003 at age 52 from colon cancer.

Award winners are faculty members who uniquely influence their students and peers in music education. Schliff said , Stoffel does just this.

“I work with student teachers and they often quote him from seminars saying ‘Dr. Stoffel does this or Dr. Stoffel does that,’” Schliff said. “They often say they’ve been ‘Stoffelized.’”

Stoffel’s resume boasts several collegiate degrees as well as a long history of teaching. Before coming to CSUN, Stoffel was the director of Huskie Bands at Northern Illinois University, where he was honored with the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. He was also director of bands at Eastern Illinois University.

“I had a wonderful 11-year stint in the Midwest,” Stoffel said. “It really is the fertile crescent of music instruction in the U.S.”

Dr. Julia Heinen, a graduate advisor at the CSUN school of music,  praises the way Stoffel works with his students.

“He uses just the right balance of positive reinforcement in encouraging students to improve skills that are not up to par,” Heinen said. “I know my students love him. They are enthusiastic going to rehearsal, they’re enthusiastic going to class. They will do anything for him.”

Junior Allison McKay, who studies music performance,  said Heinen’s comment about loyalty is correct.

“He is a colleague, a mentor, a father figure, a friend to many of us in the music department,” McKay said. “He is the most professional band director I have met.”

Schliff said, Stoffel is a highly-skilled teacher.

“(He has) passion and enthusiasm for music education, I think that’s what does it,” Schliff said of his teaching style. “He breaks things down in a way students can understand.”

McKay said she has learned “everything” from Stoffel but there is one thing that stands out for her and is the greatest lesson he taught her which is “there is no validity in not striving to be the best person you can be.”

“I teach with a passion and enthusiasm for the subject,” Stoffel said. “You have to be outstanding as a musician and a teacher. When you are the type of person that enjoys both of activities, you’ve found a wonderful calling in life.”

In addition to being a published writer, Stoffel lectures in Europe at conferences in Germany and Austria and all over the U.S., including frequent presentations at CMEA, Illinois Music Educators Association and the annual international band and orchestra conference in Chicago.

However, Stoffel is happy to be in his native southern California.

“I‘m very glad and feel very fortunate to be at Northridge,” he said.

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