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Susan Marchant, professor and chair of the music,, plays the piano in the auditorium of McCray Hall. Marchant recieved her both her undergraduate degree and graduate degree in organ performance at Oberlin College and Yale University. Kamryn Kelley

Susan Marchant leads PSU department of music

Susan Marchant, chair of the music department, has worked at Pitt State since 1979 and has worn quite a few hats since being here at Pitt State. Marchant has been directing the choral program here since 1988, as well as teaching organ and harpsichord, of which she teaches graduate students in performance, literature and conducting courses.  

Marchant said the diversity of her days is what she has come to appreciate,  

“One hour I’m talking about Organ performance and the next hour I’m talking about harpsichord literature, and then the next hour, I’m talking about directing a choir or talking about the techniques of conducting with the conducting students,” Marchant said. “So, I’ve come to really appreciate that diversity. It keeps things very lively and stimulating.” 

When Marchant first started here, her position was quite different than it is now. She helped teach class piano instruction for students who would be taking class piano, helping them from the very beginning stages up through a certain level of proficiency that’s required in all of the programs. Marchant said the position was an interesting departure from things she had done before,  

“It was an interesting challenge,” she said. “I taught music theory soon after I got here and so classroom teaching was not something I ever thought that I would be doing with large groups of people but that was an interesting opportunity for growth when I first came here.”   

Marchant says the biggest change for her was going from teaching organ students to directing the choral element along with the administrative responsibilities. 

With all of the change Marchant has had being at Pitt State, the one thing she said has been a constant the atmosphere of McCray Hall. 

“It’s always been a department where we, even though we’re not a huge department in terms of national standards, we make every possible opportunity available for students,” she said.  

Some of the opportunities being full productions, big pieces for chorus and orchestra and even the SEK Symphony that just played in the Kauffman center in Kansas City over the weekend, and the choir tour every two years in a new place around the world.  

Marchant said that even with doing some of this huge things, the department still keeps a family feel. 

“We keep a sense of family… and we’re all pulling the wagon in the same direction so I think it makes for a really nice mixture of elements, one that should be attractive to, particularly young developing musicians,” she said.  

Marchant also said that she thinks this atmosphere is one that they (prospective students) know they can come here and have all of the opportunities that they need to have and always enjoy without ever feeling like they get lost in the crowd the way they might at a larger school.  

“Everyone is on a different journey and we just meet people where they are,” she said. “People can plug in at any level and we always tell folks when they come to audition ‘You can be as active as your schedule allows you to be… the schedule is set up in such a way that you can do them pretty much all without conflict’ or we really just try to help everyone find their place that feeds them, nurtures them, challenges them and but is in the end is comfortable and the right place”.  

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