Instructor Vincent Peterson

Conservatory of Music

Interviewed by Honors Academy student Thomas Bennici

A composer, conductor and pianist, Vincent Peterson is passionate about music. "Music is a universal language and a way to say the things we can't say with words alone. It is a way to unlock intelligence that we have in our bodies and brains that we didn’t know we had."

A native of San Francisco, Peterson came to New York in 2005 to study at Mannes College, part of the New School. After completing master's degrees in composition and choral conducting, he taught at a high school before making the jump to Brooklyn College. "I am humbled and honored to be here. I appreciate the students the most, specifically the energy and the drive to succeed, which I find palpable. I work hard to reach students, to get them to respond and to make them feel like they are contributing something valuable to the conversation. I live for that."

Peterson will go the extra mile for his students. In one instance, he taught a legally deaf student how to "sight-sing" by having her feel the vibrations of different notes through a pitch pipe. The student ultimately sang in the choir. "It fills me with great joy to know that somebody is making the effort to understand, not for me, but for himself or herself." Peterson's teaching philosophy is centered on a concept that the Jesuits employ called cura personalis, which means "care for the whole person."

"I really believe in that. I think that for students who are taking the core music class, it is a form of cura personalis. It's developing the soul, the psyche and consciousness. I want to give students confidence. I want them to feel smart."