Exchange teacher brings music to SU

flyer_new_teacherBY MARISSA  MEEHAN
Staff Writer

Vendim Thaqi started his music journey when he was fifteen years old. He was born in Kosovo and moved throughout Europe with his family, and lived in Belgium before coming to the States. Within the past nine years Thaqi has traveled and performed at an estimated 70 events where he has performed everything from rock to a classical piece in a University concert to a wedding with another instrumentalist/singer. He is currently a guitar teacher here at Salisbury University through the artist in residence program. Thaqi has been practicing with the guitar since 2010 and started as an electric guitar player in 2005.

Q: How did you end up at Salisbury University?

A: I got (my Bachelor’s degree) in music performance and education.  I know I had time between getting my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree and wanted to do something during this time. I plan on getting my Master’s in the same area. My professor back at home has known Dr. Cummings for about nine years and suggested I come to Salisbury University. Dr. Cummings created the artist in residence program which brings gifted international musicians to the school to work with music students and is sponsored by the music department and Center for International Education.

Q: Do you like it at Salisbury so far?

A: Yes, I like it so far! I have been here about a month and I’ve had concerts that I have performed at and I enjoy meeting new people. Everyone has been friendly to me and it feels like a small family. The campus is a good size and I see people I know when I walk around.

Q: What is your favorite type of music?

A: It depends. It would have to be between Rock and Classical. I can also go to a club and enjoy the music there. I started guitar because of AC/DC when I was 15 years old and at 16 years old I decided to try classical guitar. I also like Green Day, Metallica, Billy Talent, Foo Fighters, and Triggerfinger.

Q: What motivates you to do what you do?

A: It is my love for the guitar and music. When you want to work with your hobby and make it your profession you need to love it and be dedicated. It is not only the fun parts, but also the difficult parts like practicing. My motivation is my love for the guitar and teaching.

Q: What are some of your goals for yourself?

A: It is good to have realistic goals and to walk step-by-step. I don’t think I want to be only a soloist because you have to travel all the time and it is hard to have a family. My goal now would be to start my Master’s and to continue teaching.

Q: Have you been in any bands or are you involved in one now?

A: I am not in a band in Salisbury. I am in the band “Autumn Colours” back in Belgium. It is a rock band trio where I sing and play the guitar.

Q: What are your plans for “Autumn Colours” when you return home?

A: When I get back we are planning to play some shows in the summer time and maybe organize a small tour, but it’s still just an idea. We have one gig confirmed in the end of June. Since I have my master’s audition I will try to play two to three shows the weekend that I get back with the classical guitar as a soloist. I also have two concerts with Orchestra scheduled in October in Belgium and Germany.

Q: Any new songs in the works?

A: I think we’re going to record about four new songs and eventually more but we’ll see about that.

Q: What challenges do you face when teaching?

A: When you teach it is hard to keep up the practice. You have to practice every day. I know many musicians including myself that bring their instruments on the road with them to practice. When you do not practice for a week you lose some things you learned.

Q: What are some of the rewards of teaching?

A: It is always a good feeling when you play for yourself and you reached your goal. It is also rewarding when you give other people the joy to listen or play music.

Q: Do you have any life changing experiences that led you to where you are today?

A: Concerts led me to other concerts and meeting other people which led me to teaching students. It is a chain reaction and everything I do built me up for where I am meant to be.

Q: Do you have anyone that deeply influenced you?

A: Yes! All of my teachers taught me so much and have a great personality. Everyone was special and contributed to my musical growth. Their names are “Skoob” from Scotland, Hélène Dütz from Belgium, Professor Hans-Werner Huppertz from Germany and now Dr. Danielle Cumming sfrom Canada, who is the teacher at SU.

Q: What is Guitar in the Gallery and how did you perform?

A: Danielle Cummings is the director of the Guitar in the Gallery series; she gets professional guitarists to perform in the Fulton Hall. I did it as part of my artist in residence. My performance went well. The room was almost filled. As a musician you are always your worst critic and I know I can improve. In the end I got a standing ovation but I was unprepared. I told them to sit down which was very unprofessional.

Q: What goes through your mind when you are on stage?

A: When I play I think of the music and sometimes my mind wonders off. I have to tell myself to concentrate myself on the music I am playing at the moment.

Q: Are there any lessons you want to pass along to other musicians?

A: I want to encourage my students to listen to music. Just the practice can be hard and listening to music helps. I want them to listen and be aware of what they are trying to play. I try to get my students not to lose the focus on the music when they are struggling.

Thaqi has had an exciting journey so far, and it is just the beginning for him. He will be at SU for the rest of the spring semester, and will be at the 7th Annual Guitar Festival and Competition held on April 24 and 25, 2015. The festival is dedicated for people who want to have fun playing and learning the guitar. At the festival Thaqi will be giving a workshop on playing the guitar. His friendly personality and strong will power will bring him to his dreams and his extraordinary teaching ability will change the lives of all his students.

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