Although Dr. Kevin Chance has tickled the ivories on concert stages around the world, including at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City, he said his greatest satisfaction comes from watching his students grow into successful, confident performers.
“One of my greatest memories is the first time I had a student perform their first solo recital,” said Chance, assistant professor of piano at the University of Alabama. “The process of putting together an hourlong recital is daunting for some students. It’s a lot of music to put in your head and then feel confident enough to play it in front of people. For me, teaching is the opportunity to see the potential in every student and often take them to heights they didn’t know they could achieve. When I see the joy and satisfaction they get out of that, it gives me eternal gratification.”
Chance is on campus seven days a week teaching his students and perfecting his art. As chair of the Gloria Narramore Moody Piano Area, he also helps recruit the “best and brightest” music students from across the country and works to motivate them to attend the university.
Chance said his students range from freshmen to those working on doctorates. He even has a 7-year-old student.
Under Chance’s guidance, many protégés have been named winners or finalists in state, regional and national music competitions.
His commitment to students and passion for piano recently garnered national recognition. Chance was inducted into the inaugural class of the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame on Oct. 24.
Chance was among 43 piano teachers from the United States and Canada who received this honor at the Steinway Factory in New York City. Their names are displayed on a commemorative wall inside the iconic piano factory.
“It was my distinct honor to nominate Dr. Chance to the Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame,” said Jon McClaran, director of Educational Services at the Alabama Piano Gallery in Vestavia Hills. “He is a highly skilled and compassionate teacher. He has produced many wonderful musicians and numerous award winners. Dr. Chance is beloved by his students and the entire music community.”
Chance was one of the youngest piano teachers to earn Steinway honor.
“I don’t know if I have the words to describe how I felt when I received this recognition,” Chance said. “However, I felt incredibly validated for the work that I do. But it also gave me great hope for the future of music because I saw the terrific passion that was in that room. It gave me hope because I know there are students throughout the country who are benefiting from our expertise.”
Along with teaching, Chance is a world-renowned concert pianist. He has taken curtain calls in Japan, Mexico, Canada and nearly all 50 states in the U.S.
Born and raised in Dora, Chance said he began playing the piano as soon as he could reach the keys.
“When I was a small child, I would come home from church and try to play by ear all the hymns I heard that morning,” Chance said. “My mother recognized that I had some talent and called her former piano teacher who lived in Troy.”
Chance said because his teacher lived so far from Dora, he received those early lessons by phone. At age 6, he began studying piano at the Birmingham-Southern College Conservatory. By age 15, he had moved to the teacher’s chair and started passing his skill on to other students.
Chance received his bachelor’s degree in English from Birmingham-Southern in 2000, his master’s in piano performance from LSU in 2002 and his doctorate from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, in 2011.
Chance has served on the University of Alabama faculty since 2010. He took that position after teaching for four years at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham.
In addition to the recognition from Steinway & Sons, Chance has received the 2019 Music Educator of the Year Award from the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa and was named the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year by the Alabama Music Teachers Association.
Chance said his parents have been his greatest music mentors and supporters – especially during his childhood.
“I am very grateful to my parents,” Chance said. “It was 45 minutes from Dora to Birmingham, and they drove me every week – sometimes two or three times a week – to Birmingham-Southern. That was a lot of driving.”
Chance said music and teaching will always be an integral part of his life.
“I’ll never stop teaching. I love it,” Chance said. “As much as I identify as a concert pianist, my heart is in teaching, and that’s where I find my identity the most. I’m really passionate about trying to build the quality of music instruction among pre-college students throughout our state, and I love seeing my students go out and teach others, because that’s the future of music.”