8 questions with Dr. Bill, music teacher at EF Academy New York
Music teacher Dr. Samuel Bill has been one of my favorite teachers at EF Academy since 9th grade. I first joined his choir, and I later tried to teach him some sentences in Italian like “sta zitta” (be quiet) and “i piccioni sono belli” (pigeons are beautiful). His academic achievements are jaw-dropping and plentiful, therefore I invite all of you to visit his website where you will be getting to know him more formally. However, other than his extraordinary academic and work-related achievements I want to highlight his qualities, like his immense thoughtfulness and humor, which make him a delightful and reliable person to be around and to talk to.
With that said, I’m happy to say that we have an interview with him today so we can get to know him better.
Now, before focusing on your present and future, let’s start from your beginning. Dr. Bill, How old were you the first time you played an instrument? What was it?
The first time I ever touched an instrument I was 1 year old. I come from a household of musicians, it was kind of an initiation rite I had to take part in.
After that, do you think your relationship with music has mutated or evolved throughout the years?
As I mentioned before, I started playing piano and was introduced to music really early by my parents. After that, I went to music school where I developed some hostility toward taking lessons because of a bad piano teacher and because I became aware of the time restrictions that path was giving me. At the time, when I was 7, I was quite upset to know that I could not play with my friends as much as I wanted to.
Passing that phase, I realized how much I loved music, and at 14 I eventually decided that I wanted to be a conductor. In fact. I studied for 10 years and finally did work for it from 2007 to 2012. At that time, however, it wasn’t enough because of the years of crisis where financial investments were cut all around the entertainment industry. So I started doing musical arrangements, played organ, music teaching lessons, and many other temporary roles. Luckily, I still ended up liking what I did regardless of the hardships. One thing that stuck out to me was teaching, which now is what I plan and I’m still planning to do full time.
You have a lot of experience on your back Dr.Bill! I wonder… Do you still get frustrated when you are not able to play a piece of music right away?
Always! Especially because of my packed schedule with teaching, it happens that I don’t get to practice as much as I want to. You know, Paganini once said: “If I don’t practice for one day, I notice it; if I don’t practice for two days my friends will notice and if I don’t practice for three days, even my audience will notice.” Musicians need to practice up to 8 hours a day to improve their skills, while to maintain it it is necessary to do it for 5 to 6 hours a day, and because of my full time job and family I loose some fluidity. There’s no pause for a musician.
Talking about your full time job then, why did you decide to teach this subject, and why IB?
Before teaching at EF Academy, for the reasons I mentioned before, I used to teach at summer school programs. I loved the enthusiasm of the students, and to see their growing interest. Once I was introduced to IB I became happy to teach it full time because of the way that the program introduced students to all kinds of music, from all kinds of cultural backgrounds. I really liked the inclusivity and the potential to make students grow and get out of their comfort zone.
It seems like music never gives you some alone time… but does it? Dr. Bill, do you ever sing in the shower?
I surprisingly do not, I follow the philosophy to take short quick showers. Save the planet Bella!
Dr. Bill, you are such a role model and a good liar, I refuse to accept the fact that someone in this world, especially you, has never sung in the shower. Jokes aside, I have another question. What are you most proud of as a teacher?
The moment in which I feel most proud of is… when my students continue playing and experimenting even after the class has ended. As a teacher, I’m not here to teach students how to get good grades and forget about it, I’m here to empower and help them to enrich their knowledge and water their seed of curiosity. Thus, when I see my students getting gradually more passionate and invested, I feel like I have done a good job.
What advice would you give to your students who want to continue to work in the music industry or start studying IB music?
Always look to explore and push yourself to find and experiment with new things. Look out for novelty, never stop at just one thing that works out.
Last question, but not for importance… What is your favorite word in music?
Interesting question… among the terminology I find funny the pronunciation of “bisbigliare” (which means whispering in music terminology and Italian).
Interesting choice Dr. Bill, I would have probably said “allegro” (which means happy in Italian). With that said thank you so much Dr. Bill! It was really interesting to see how you developed the relationship you have with music, and what influenced you doing what you ended up doing. I really enjoyed this interview, and I appreciate you finding time regardless of your packed schedule!
No problem Isabella! You know I’m always here when you need me. Thank you for taking the time to be so nice to me, and interview me. I’m so close to saying that I officially became a celebrity.