Guest Speakers at SVGS – January

Professor  David Pope is Professor of Saxophone at James Madison University and a Distinguished Teacher of the College of Visual & Performing Arts. He has traveled the world, recently performing in Thailand, Switzerland, and at the World Saxophone Congress in Scotland. He is considered an international authority on saxophone techniques.  Professor Pope performed original music on the saxophone and talked about creativity, dedication, and pathways for aspiring artists.  He passionately articulated it takes more than talent to succeed in the music business and provided his  own life story as an example.  Students enjoyed his talents and appreciated his passion and wisdom.  Some things student took away from Professor Pope’s presentation –

  • Even if your dreams are risky, follow them! Talent does not get you everywhere. Practice, use what you know.
  • You have to decide what you cannot live without. Don’t fall back on anything. Do what you want, even if it jmeans you have to work very hard
  • Having a mission statement for your life and being a philosopher.
  • Never say no to an opportunity, and be sure to be proficient in more than one skill.
  • It is important to work harder than everyone else to achieve your dreams. Never fall back on anything.  If something doesn’t exist, invent it.
  • Imagination, work hard, life won’t turn out how you expect.
  • Follow your passion, hard work supersedes talent.

When Dr. Jennifer Coffman was 18 years old, she went to Africa for the first time with her Anthropology class.  She has returned to Africa every year since and now has her doctorate in anthropology.  Currently a professor at JMU, she takes college students to Africa every year to learn about pastoral communities.  One of the young men, Jacob, who was part of the Maasai community then came to JMU to study under Dr. Coffman and for his master’s thesis.  He wanted to find a way to help his people deal with all of the problems they were having with pastoral farming such as droughts, climate change, increased populations of homeowners, etc..  He made a very complicated model of all the interactions of the pastoral farmers with the environmental and economic factors and took it back to them but the Maasai farmers didn’t see how they could use his map.  He went back to the drawing board and made a game that encompassed all of the environmental, economic, familial, and community relationships involved in Maasai farming.  The Maasai farmers loved the game and still use it for a non-stressful way to discuss problems that arise.  Students in the AP Environmental Science class had the opportunity to play the “Eramat” game in class last week and learned how being part of a community can  help survival through droughts and unexpected events that can occur.

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