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Shuster teaches in the Philippines as Fulbright Specialist


Photo courtesy of Richard Shuster

Richard Shuster, professor of music and coordinator of piano studies at Texas Woman’s University, returned from a month in the Philippines as a Fulbright Specialist with a new perspective on his career.

“I see teaching in a whole new light,” he said.

Shuster traveled to the Southeast Asian country in August for his Fulbright project at St. Paul University Manila. The project focused on faculty and student development in the university’s College of Music and Performing Arts, with Shuster conducting workshops, lecture-recitals and master classes and teaching applied piano. He also assisted the faculty in revising the curriculum.

St. Paul University is very similar to TWU, Shuster said, in that it formerly was an all-girls school and still serves a primarily female student population. As with TWU, the university’s music program also has experienced much growth in recent years, he said.

Shuster’s goal for the Fulbright Specialist project was to “find just the right place to share my area of expertise with colleagues and students who would find it useful,” he said, adding, “I think it worked out beautifully.”

Shuster also taught students from other universities in Manila who heard about the visiting Fulbright professor and wanted to learn from him. He also met Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines and current congresswoman, who, when she learned that a Fulbright professor was in Manila, threw a dinner in his honor.

“She wanted to know about TWU, and was interested in the music therapy program.” Despite the controversies surrounding Marcos, Shuster said, “she recognizes the value of the arts.”

Shuster said his experiences in the Philippines and working with the students and faculty of St. Paul were exhilarating. They want him to return, he said, adding, “I would love to do that.”

Shuster has been a guest teacher throughout the world, including the Vienna International Piano Academy in Austria, the Marco Polo Festival in Querceto, Italy, and Mukogawa Women’s University in Hyogo, Japan. He also has served as a teacher and examiner in Taiwan for the International Piano Performance Examination Committee. In doing so, he gains a deeper understanding of his craft.

“I have this impulse to know how things are done in other countries,” he said. “It can only influence our programs to know the strengths and weaknesses of other programs.

“It also broadens my perspectives,” he added. “The more I’m open to understanding students and their processes, the better I can serve them. It’s also about understanding people. People do things differently. The more open we are, and the more we know about other cultures, the better off we are.”

Shuster joins 11 TWU faculty and former students who have received Fulbright awards. The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State, is a highly competitive program that offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-citizens to come to the United States. Its goal is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. For more information, visit


Written by Karen Garcia
Senior Writer
TWU Office of Marketing and Communication

page updated 5/9/2016 4:57 PM