SHERIDAN — Director of Arts Outreach and Academic Support and an instructor of flute and music theory Dr. Rachel Bergman has had a passion for playing the flute her entire life. Now, she shares that passion with her students at Sheridan College.
Bergman’s mother played the piano and sang, but when it came to her choosing an instrument, Bergman wanted to play something different. So, she started playing the recorder while in elementary school, then quickly made the jump to the flute.
She took her interest in music from elementary school into higher education, and she double majored in mathematics and music theory.
Bergman said that math and music often work hand in hand.
“With math, there is a very direct connection with the music theory that I teach,” Bergman said. “Music theory is all about how music is put together — that can be very mathematical.”
She began to pursue a master’s degree in flute performance, but veered away from it. She wanted to be in the classroom, just like her parents, and earned her doctorate in music theory so she could teach at the college level.
Today, she serves as a flute instructor and teaches music theory courses at Sheridan College.
“While we are thrilled to have a musician of her caliber, Dr. Bergman’s extensive knowledge of higher education has helped our program reach new heights,” said Dr. Erin Hanke, director of the SC Whitney Center for the Arts. “She brings such enormous passion for music and working with students that she’s quickly become a vital part of the arts program at Sheridan College.”
Bergman said she enjoys the flute because it’s what she calls a versatile instrument; it can play in many combinations and genres of music, including jazz, classical and symphony. It can even be part of a marching band.
It’s that versatility in the flute that inspired her to launch a flute choir. The choir includes those who play orchestral flutes, piccolos, alto flutes and bass flute.
Being a high-quality flute player takes patience, determination and flexibility, she said. Because it is one of the most popular instruments, becoming a professional flute player can be especially difficult.
She’s never pursued the passion full time, but still enjoys getting out on the stage. Last week, Bergman performed in a faculty concert with other Sheridan College educators performing 20th and 21st century music, the genre Bergman prefers.
“I am really fortunate that I have an academic position, so I am not relying on the flute to make my living the way a freelance musician would,” Bergman said. “I can pick and choose the projects that I can take on.”