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Teaching jazz appreciation on TELETECHNET, Old Dominion's televised distance learning network, requires a unique approach. It is this vision and ability of John Toomey, associate professor of music, that the Chronicle of Education highlights in its most recent issue.

In "From a Distance, Students Learn the Subtleties of Jazz," Toomey's unusual class is described. Using a ceiling-mounted camera in his specially equipped classroom, Toomey can focus students' attention on his hands as they play across the keyboard, a feature not available in traditional music classrooms. This gives students at remote sites a view as good, if not better, than those in his classroom.

This revolutionary teaching technique earned Toomey an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia this month and the TELETECHNET Teacher of the Year Award in 1995, the first year it was given by the university.

The article, which can be viewed on the Chronicle's Web site at http://www.chronicle.com/free/2000/03/2000030901u.htm, also includes video footage of Toomey's class.

"Professor Toomey is an incredibly valuable member of the university faculty," said Jo Ann Gora, Old Dominion's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"He gives unstintingly of his time and talent to his students and to the university community. His students…rave about his ability to mentor, coach, encourage and inform. And, as a musician and performer, he brings so much talent to the stage. He is a delight to work with, to listen to and to learn from."

Toomey also teaches aesthetics of jazz, computers and musical instrument digital interface technology, recording and electronic music, jazz improvisation, sight singing and applied jazz lessons.

He brings tremendous musical credibility to his work. He is the former musical director for jazz great Maynard Ferguson and a frequent performer at clubs in Hampton Roads. Toomey has recorded several compact discs of his jazz works and has performed with Cab Calloway, the Count Basie Band small group, Paul Anka and Jerry Vale.

This article was posted on: March 13, 2000

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