Faculty Friday: Michelle Stanley

In a special weekly series, the College of Liberal Arts is featuring a faculty member from one of our 13 departments. We asked questions about why they are passionate about the subjects they study and teach, and how they found their path to CSU. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.  

Michelle Stanley, new director of LEAP Institute for the ArtsMichelle Stanley

Associate Professor of Music; Flute; Director of LEAP Institute for the Arts

1. What do you like most about playing and teaching flute? What inspired your interest in music?

As a musician, my lifeblood is creating through music. My flute is such a vehicle for communication for me and I truly enjoy connecting with audiences through music. My ‘research’ is performing on the flute which is a unique and exciting field of study. The experience of performing and interpreting music drives my desire to teach. What better way to connect with an audience than to help a student discover their voice or their ability to teach and heal through music?

My field of music is one that everyone enjoys and participates in – either as a listener or an active participant. What a unique gift to be able to have my area of study as an art form that many people understand and embrace. As an arts advocate and director of an arts entrepreneurship program, I find a drive in not only helping students create their own careers in the arts and arts management but in continuing my daily passion in advocating for the arts.

So many musicians find their passion of music at a young age and I am not different. I found my spark with the flute and in music from the 5th grade and as my abilities grew, so did my interest. As an arts advocate through the LEAP Institute, I am constantly inspired by this expanding field of study. This was a field that wasn’t even on the radar as I was studying at music school. We were scrappy and learned to create careers on our own and because of that, I am inspired to advocate for the creative industries through LEAP.

2. Which class is your favorite to teach and why?

I only teach one on one flute lessons and I completely love it. To work that closely with a student for 4 years is a gift as I get to see them grow as musicians, teachers, and people. When I taught within the LEAP program, I really enjoyed teaching ‘Creating Your Arts Career’ as I saw it as a very practical and helpful class for those heading off into the creative economy.

3. What did you want to be when you were little? When did you know you wanted to go into higher education/research?

Music was always on my mind but I didn’t think that was a ‘real job,’ so I considered Oceanography very strongly. As a New Englander, I love the sea! However, music dragged me back. (I love that I now get to show students that there ARE careers in the arts! Full circle.)

As I advanced into my master’s, I realized that higher education was a logical and exciting field that I wanted to pursue. My father was a University administrator and I probably was sparked by his positions.it. I ended up in graduate school for public policy after writing my honors thesis on asbestos policy. Working on that project, I fell in love with understanding the interactions between humans and the environment, especially as it relates to health.

4. How did you get to CSU?

I started at CSU in 2006 as an adjunct instructor, teaching flute and one music history class. Prior to that I was an adjunct at 2 other schools and freelancing as a flutist. I was lucky enough to have my position at CSU convert to a tenure-track position in 2009 and I was able to retain my job. I love it here and look forward to the next 13 years.

5. What is one thing students would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a sailor and I have a 13-foot sailboat here in Colorado (a 1972 Chrysler Pirateer) and a paddleboard. I love to be on the water!