Columbia College Chicago

Meet the Faculty

Gerald Rizzer

Theory for Musicians

Preferred Student Age: 5 and up; prefers teenagers.

How long have you been on faculty at Sherwood?

24 years.

Briefly describe your musical pursuits outside Sherwood.

Founder and Artistic Director of The Chicago Ensemble, now in its 25th season. Yearly subscription series of 5 or 6 programs including a live radio broadcast.

What do you want to impart to your students through your teaching?
Lessons with Mr. Rizzer have an orientation towards developing an understanding of music theory as well as the listening and creative skills of chamber music. He encourages students to compose their own works, which can be a nice "breakthrough" from how many people teach.

Are there specific methods or techniques that you use in your teaching that may be important to share with prospective students?

Mr. Rizzer feels somewhat ambivelant towards technical studies and instead tries to approach developing technique through studying specific repertoire.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Seeing students move from one spot to another.

What is one of your best musical memories?
For many years I have participated in the music theater writers workshop, originally based at Theatre Building Chicago, now affiliated with Light Opera Works. I have had several of my shows performed. In February, 2012, I presented a 25-year retrospective of his theater songs at Sherwood.

Please describe one of your favorite mentors.
Gavin Williamson, an early piano instructor - "He was a charming and daring man who lived in a big stone house near the Museum of Science and Industry and had great stories and anecdotes to share. He had 3 or 4 harpsichords and several pianos and performed for a weekly radio program, which was unusual for that time." Mr. Rizzer teaches the technique that he was first taught by Gavin Williamson.

What is your favorite type of music?

The "Meat and Potatoes" composers: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Debussy. He will pull out Bach Preludes and Fugues or Haydn Sonatas for fun and loves jazz piano too.