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Meet Roger Letson, A Distinguished Educator

Photo of Roger LetsonAfter almost three decades, Roger Letson---instructor, director of the Vintage Singers and Vocal Flight, and musician's musician---is hanging up his baton at De Anza College. He says he will deeply miss the contributions of students.

"During my junior year of college, I began assuming the duties of director of a small ensemble," Letson said, explaining how he decided to become an instructor. "The 'making' of music inspired me, and I enjoy it immensely to this day. The ability to reach inside a person's thoughts and inspire them to creativeness is not only an incredible experience, but carries with it much responsibility. The challenge is awesome.

"I consider myself fortunate to be involved with an art form that not only demands discipline, but relies upon creativity for its very existence," Letson went on to say. "Few other disciplines have the opportunity to present themselves to the public forum for scrutiny and acceptance as do music performance ensembles. This challenge has helped shape my instructional approach and continues to offer me the desire to be on the leading edge of change and experimentation. Although not all of my students will become professional musicians, it is important they have an experience which nurtures social responsibility, knowledgeable appreciation of the world's music, and understanding of the creative process. My [teaching] philosophy then is one of recognition and openness to change."

"Roger is a gentle giant in his field," wrote French instructor Laura Karst, who for the past three years has also been a student of Letson's. "His modesty prevents him from mentioning it, but he is very well-known and highly respected, both here and abroad, in the world of vocal jazz education. Since its inception, his ensemble Vocal Flight has won major awards and accolades on a regular basis. De Anza has been truly fortunate to count him among its faculty for so many years."

Letson served on numerous committees during his tenure at De Anza, including the Scheduling Master Plan, Curriculum and Enrollment Management committees, as well as the Creative Arts Division Council. From 1990-93 he served as assistant dean of Creative Arts. For 18 years, he was the division's scheduler.

Prior to coming to De Anza, Letson taught for six years at Foothill. He holds a B.A. in music education and an M.A. in music, and has pursued further studies at Cal State Long Beach, UC Santa Barbara and USC.

"I am deeply humbled by this [Distinguished Educator] award," said Letson. "Were it not for the support and contribution of my students and colleagues, I would not be receiving this honor. I thank them and De Anza for the opportunity to explore the horizons of education."

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Last Updated: 9/30/08