Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Questions with Eugene Cantera

Eugene Cantera (B.M. ‘81) studied music education at Hartt from 1977 to 1981.  He is currently living in Carrollton, Texas.  

What have you been up to since you graduated from Hartt?

I worked at the Hartt Community Division for over 10 years beginning shortly after I graduated. I've always enjoyed one-on-one teaching and performing and managed to stay busy doing both in and around Hartford through the early 90’s.

What are you involved with right now?

Around 1993, we were in Dallas visiting friends from Connecticut when I was fortunate enough to see a sign for the Dallas School of Music and popped in. I had no idea that they had only recently opened their doors so I jokingly said to my now boss “If I relocate here will you give me a gig?” He said “yes” but little did he know that I would show up just a few weeks later ready to work. lol. I became a Partner just a few years later.

DSM is a private community music school in north Dallas. Our youngest students are 3 or 4 and our oldest are in their 80’s - and sometimes they come one after the other!  It’s a wonderful challenge that keeps things interesting and keeps one's teaching chops sharp!  We are also publishers of online music learning materials ( that are used all over the world, and part of my days are spent creating content and heading up the social media aspect of those related blogs and sites.

I recently returned from an artist in residency at a private school in Adelaide, Australia.  The trip was incredible and came about almost entirely because of the work we've been doing online over the past 10 to 12 years. I wrote about how the trip came to be, what it took to plan, and how it all turned out on Tumblr - the account  it’s far too long but if anyone is interested, here is the link:

What is one of your most memorable things about your time at Hartt?

I think about my time at Hartt and U-Ha often, especially the incredibly talented classmates I had and the myriad of friends that I made.  I remain in contact with many of them still. I was a bit of an ‘outlier’ at Hartt; not a heavy jazz player and not a proto-typical classical saxophonist either. I did play in the Hartt Jazz Ensemble with director Al Lepak and remember a few crazy and fun ‘chili parties’ at his home. I also had some great times playing at ‘The Pub’ (back when it was fairly new) in a U-Ha band called Storm.  

There always seemed to be something cool going on at Hartt or around campus; random jam sessions and performances, spring celebrations, Oktoberfest...etc. I remember bumping into actor Charles Nelson Reilly in the hall one day, and I almost ran over Pat Benatar one evening. It was (and I imagine still is) a very cool environment. I miss those times very much.

What did you learn during your time at Hartt that you did not appreciate or recognize until after time passed and you had some time to reflect?

I think I did a good job of embracing the social and fun aspects of being in college. lol.  But I could have taken more advantage of the learning opportunities that Hartt provided as well as the incredibly talented faculty. Moshe Paranov used to say “If you don't know, ask”.  It’s such simple and wise advice that was almost completely lost on me as a stubborn 20 something.  I hope Moshe is up there, looking down and smiling knowing that I now take his advice at every opportunity.

What is next for you?

The Dallas School of Music recently opened new state-of-the-art offices that reflect the direction we’re going in with our online publishing. I will always ‘teach’ but more of my time will be devoted to creating content for our sites and to the marketing and social media aspects of the endeavor. I continue to perform a few times each month as well, and I would love to make my artist/teacher/performer residency an annual event. I’m hoping the Australian experience might lead to more of those kinds of opportunities.

How people get in touch?

I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to say hello! Feel free to e-mail me at and if anyone is interested in the Discover, Learn, and Play online books, email me and I’ll send along a link for a free view. I also tweet at @dlpmusicbooks.

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