Beck’s approach to music education earned her the distinction of Master Teacher by the American Musicological Society (AMS) at its annual conference in November. Beck is only the third teacher to earn such an honor from AMS, which recognizes excellent teachers among its 5,000 members.
“I’ve given my heart to music education,” Beck said. “I believe teaching is a trade—a trade you must learn well—and I feel incredibly honored to have been selected.”
Students of Beck’s courses in music history and appreciation are not at all surprised by her award. Junior music major Ariana Lenarsky, a transfer student, said her experiences with music history at a previous institution had been either frenzied or dry.
“Coming here, no class was more strongly recommended to me by students and faculty alike than Nora’s ‘Topics in the History of Western Music’ class,” Lenarsky said.
Beck engages her students in class discussions and activities, sharing freely her deep knowledge of the field and making history palpable in her classroom.
“She teaches gracefully,” Lenarsky said. “At the end of my first semester at Lewis & Clark, I’m confident discussing the ideals of Romanticism, the politics of late-18th century Vienna, and the lovesick mishaps of every composer from Beethoven to Verdi, yet I don’t feel as though I’ve swallowed a textbook.”
Beck’s infectious enthusiasm for her subject matter makes her courses popular for both majors and non-majors in music.
“The success of liberal arts education hinges on the ability of great educators, like Nora, to make subjects real for their students,” said Julio de Paula, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Her passion and expertise bring art to life in ways that her students may never have experienced art before. That shared exploration is at the heart of a Lewis & Clark education.”