Eastern Michigan University emeritus piano professor Garik Pedersen’s article on Victory Vertical Project honored as year’s best in national teachers’ magazine

Garik Pedersen behind the piano on the stage at Pease Auditorium.
(EMU file photo)

YPSILANTI – “The Victory Vertical Project:  A Historical Case Study in Recreational Music Making,” authored by Eastern Michigan University emeritus professor Garik Pedersen, has been selected as the American Music Teacher Article of the Year.

This award is presented by Music Teachers National Association to the author of an outstanding feature article written expressly for the magazine. The article was published last fall, and Pedersen received a $1,000 award, made possible by the MTNA Foundation Fund.

old photo of soldiers gathered around a piano singing
Pedersen assembled a program for the Victory Vertical Piano Project that includes performances of popular pieces from the time—swing, classical, blues, jazz—that were probably played on these pianos, as well as projected images and a narrative context.

Training prizewinners around the world

Pedersen is professor emeritus of piano at Eastern. During his 40-plus year academic career, he taught undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and many other countries, producing prizewinners in regional, national, and international competitions.

In 2018, he launched The Victory Vertical Project, a touring multi-media performance venture that takes its name from pianos built for the US military during World War II. The VVP has been presented to audiences throughout the United States in concert halls, churches, and museums as well as schools, retirement centers, hospitals and military bases.

"I was invited to submit this article by a colleague who attended a performance of The Victory Vertical Project in Ohio," Pedersen said "Of course, it is gratifying to have my work recognized by my colleagues, but it is even more gratifying to have the opportunity to play for enthusiastic audiences of veterans, service members, students, and general audiences. The Victory Vertical Project epitomizes what my whole career has been about: the importance of bringing all kinds of music to all kinds of people."

History of distinguished service

Pedersen is a student of Wesley True at the University of Central Missouri, which named him its Distinguished Alumnus in Music in 2010, He was the final DMA piano student of John Simms at the University of Iowa, graduating in 1986.

He is a past president of Michigan Music Teachers Association, which honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 2016. He received the Michigan Touchstone Award in 2017 in recognition of his “commitment to Michigan’s artistic excellence and his advocacy for the arts.”

MTNA is a nonprofit organization of independent and collegiate music teachers committed to furthering the art of music through teaching, performance, composition and scholarly research. Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music teachers association in the United States.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

April 14, 2021

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom