Acting Director, Denny Bui

Welcome to our spotlight podcast where we take time to feature a different person on campus. Today we’re here to interview Denny Bui, who was previously featured as a student teacher and is now acting co-director for Band and Orchestra. 

*Full video interview at the top of the post

Angela Cao: What do you hope to fulfill as acting director?

Denny Bui: I hope to uphold the standards that have been set by Dr. C, as well as bring new perspective and help the students be successful in what we hope to achieve in this school.

Angela Cao: What are the new perspectives you want to bring to this school?

Bui: I want the students to be more aware when they play—just to listen intently and play intently rather than play notes. I would also like to help them hear things differently, maybe things they haven’t heard before, and to help them be as good as they can regardless of if they fail or not, as long as they try their best.

Kevin Arifin: What are some of the skills that you have taken from observing and looking at the directors beforehand, and now brought to the table as a director yourself now?

Bui: It’s more about organization skills. Not all teachers or upcoming teachers know that it is being taught in our classes. The whole administration side, the paperwork and how to be very organized in your day and make sure you carry those out. I’ve been watching Mr. Wicks and Dr. C and they are really good at doing so. They have lists and reminders to let them do it.

Kevin Arifin: Is there anything in teaching style that you observed that you brought here now?

Bui: I’ve seen them do the whole “less talking, more playing” thing so since throughout here, they would just want the students to play and that’s a good thing because we can’t let them linger so much because they’re going to get unsettled for a lack of a better word. You got to keep them engaged explaining things and most of the time, it is really helpful.

Angela Cao: What do you hope to learn from your position as acting director and what have you learned so far?

Bui: I’ve learned to be more organized, make more lists and also currently is to see how students learn, and how many variations are there to help students achieve that. I want to see how students react to some strategy that I have, and if that doesn’t go well, then I might rethink it and do something else.

Kevin Arifin: What kind of personal twist have you added to the sort of teaching and learning that is separate from what you observed?

Bui: All teaching styles are sort of different. I feel like mine is to praise the positive things that students do and that leads well with the negative things. Failing is okay as long as you have learned from it. It’s also the whole not necessarily getting the right answer correct, but the how and the what to get there, and that’s what I believe in as well when I’m directing the concert band. I’m trying to help students be aware of what they should be listening to, and what else is going on rather than just blatantly playing.

Kevin Arifin: So how does this belief differ from what was taught before?

Bui: It’s not necessarily what was before but it is just something that I feel that we lack in the whole music education. Just playing super loudly and not listening with a purpose. Also the whole feeling thing is something I got from my private tutor (I play trumpet). It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to play a wrong note as long as you know why, and as long as you retaliate from it. It’s a thing that I take with me when I teach. It’s okay to fail once as long as you learn from it, you can move forward with your life, and I don’t think it’s been said enough.

Angela Cao: What is something about yourself that you would like students to know in terms of teaching and band?

Bui: I’m just here for them, and I want to guide them to be successful.

By Kevin Arifin and Angela Cao, Arts editors