By Sheila Headspeth
A long-time Hood College music professor will be retiring from his position as the music department chair, but will still remain a member of the faculty as an adjunct professor.
After teaching at Hood for 38 years, 25 of which he spent as the music department chair, Noel Lester will be focusing on running the summer music program at Hood and managing concerts. He will also focus on becoming a better pianist and said that giving up some of his responsibilities will help him perfect his craft. Lester has been playing piano professionally for over 40 years.
Before arriving at Hood, Lester studied at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and it was there that he decided to apply to work part-time at Hood. Lester said he wanted to work at Hood because he like that it was a small and a liberal arts college.
Initially, one of Lester’s goals was simply to be a good teacher. “I wanted to raise the level of performance in my students,” said Lester. It was while performing that task that he also discovered the need for funds and scholarships specifically for Hood music students.
One of the biggest lessons Lester has taken from his time at Hood is to be more patient. “I am infinitely more patient and I am a better teacher,” he said.
Lester feels that he has significantly accomplished getting funds for Hood music students by helping to bring about four funds dedicated to annual concerts and six funds for prizes and scholarships for Hood’s music students. Lester has also brought an exceeding amount of awareness about Hood’s music department and feels that it is no longer struggling.
Lester recalls several great memories at Hood. He said that his favorite class to teach was “The World of Mozart” because he developed the course and he never got tired of teaching it.
In response to his recent farewell concert, Lester said it was bittersweet. “It was bitter because it’s always hard to let go…I have so many memories. [Yet] it was a celebration,” Lester said.
Lester also said that transitioning from department chair to an adjunct professor is, “a rebooting [because there will be] no more meetings and advising.”
After having chaired the music department for so long Lester said, “the time feels right for me.” Lester also added that his position will not be filled by a full-time person.
Lester said, “I am blessed to have wonderful colleagues in the department.” He also said that he is grateful to have been connected to 75 years of Hood’s history and that he looks forward to seeing Hood’s changes in the future.