Changes. This is the word jazz musicians say to one another when they want to engage in an impromptu jam session.
After 18 years of service at Citrus College, professor of music Alexander Galvan is making a career change. On June 14, at the end of the 2015 spring semester, his full time faculty status at Citrus will come to a close.
“Teaching was always a dream of mine. I enjoy the college atmosphere and environment, and this is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Galvan said. “I really appreciate my colleagues, and I am really going to miss our time together.”
For professors in performing arts, everyone brings to the academic table their own gifts and talents and it all can be seen in student outcomes.
Robert Slack, the dean of fine and performing arts, describes Galvan as a superb professor with a heart of gold.
“He has a lot of empathy for the students,” Slack said. “He really listens and he is incredibly helpful.”
Galvan is always willing to go the extra mile for students. Giving them as much of his time before and after class to help them understand material.
Galvan’s impact is not limited to students. His own colleagues in the performing arts department marvel at what he is capable of creatively.
“I do not think there is a day that goes by where I’m upstairs practicing an instrument, and Galvan knocks on the door and says, ‘changes,’” Slack said. “A lot of times we will just sit down and play a couple tunes together, then I’ll go about my business, and he will go about his.”
John Boylan, an adjunct professor in music, first became aware of Galvan’s talents when he witnessed him perform with adjunct professor of music, Alan Waddington.
“I went down to the band room one time and caught an impromptu jam session. Waddington was on drums and Alex was playing piano and he was nailing it. It was really obvious that he is a superior jazz pianist,” Boylan recalled.
“Every time we played, it was just this unique special moment,” Waddington said. “Playing together in that capacity that was touching for me. He seemed to really enjoy it every time, and every time we finish the jam, he will just start laughing.”
Galvan loves jamming with his colleagues, but he maintains that the most gratifying aspect of his job is seeing his students’ progress in and out of the classroom.
“You can see it in their eyes, and you can see it in their demeanor,” Galvan said. “When that light bulb goes on in a student’s head, all of a sudden everything makes sense.”
In the past, Galvan had the opportunity to score for the television series “Kingsley’s Meadow,” and after his retirement he wants to redirect his time to focus on composing for more film and television shows in addition to traveling the world performing in faith-based arenas.
Galvan describes his teaching experience at Citrus College as a “divine blessing.”
Teaching has been a part of Galvan’s life for decades and even after retiring the teaching will not stop.
After a semester sabbatical, Galvan will have to option of continuing to teach at Citrus as an adjunct professor. Galvan is more than willing to continue working with Citrus College and its students – that is if sunbathing on the beach does not change his mind.
For Galvan, the man who loves early morning changes, sometimes no change can be just as satisfying.