Collins: The foundations of success
Not unlike the band and choir programs, LPHS has had an equally successful Orchestra program for nearly three decades. Undoubtedly, a large amount of the program’s success can be attributed to none other than its director, Pete Collins.
“I started teaching here in the summer of 1989. I was looking for a bigger string program and more of a challenge, [and] this school system seemed to have lots of potential for growth,” Collins said.
Collins, like many other lasting role models in the profession, has a strong background in music and has been surrounded by it his entire life.
“My dad taught band and orchestra in the Fort Wayne schools for 40 years. He also played violin and viola in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic for over 50 years. My mom taught piano lessons at home when I was growing up and has been a church choir director for many, many years. My parents were important role models for me,” Collins said.
After attending college Collins taught at one other school before coming to La Porte.
“I attended at Ball State University and studied viola and voice. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 1985. My first teaching job was in central Indiana near Marion. I was orchestra director at Oak Hill Jr./Sr. High School in Converse, Indiana. I taught there four years from 1985 to 1989,” Collins said.
Unlike the band and choir programs who have multiple directors, Collins is the only orchestra director in the entire corporation. This situation gives him many more opportunities to interact with and challenge his students over their tenure in the program.
“I have very similar expectations for all my students. The difficulty level of the music and the pacing of instruction are the real differences. One of the favorite parts of my job is working with students in grades 6 through 12. I get to see my students grow up and become young adults,” Collins said.
Collins, in sync with other programs around the corporation, focuses on the basics of musicianship to give his students a strong foundation; however, that is not the total extent of concepts explored in his classrooms.
“We work on music fundamentals like reading notes and rhythms, articulation, using proper bowing techniques, and producing a good tone. I also focus on working together as a group, developing independence, and instilling good study habits,” Collins said.
Outside of the school day, Collins continues to be personable and constructive.
“I enjoy carpentry and home renovation projects. My wife and I completely remodeled our kitchen just recently. We also have a five-month-old grandson, Elijah. We love spending time with him,” Collins said.
Collins is a proponent of the common belief that music can positively impact everyone, regardless of skill level or involvement.
“Music is an excellent way to express oneself. I believe everyone should have music in their life. It’s such an important part of the human experience,” Collins said.