Peter Nostrand

Student spotlight details

Peter visits regularly from the States to take our weekly classes in music while his wife takes our history classes.

'When I retired as a bank CEO in Washington, I wanted to do something totally different. Since my father taught me to read and write music, I wanted to try my hand at composing. Initially I looked at several first class institutions of higher learning in the US: Amherst, Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard, but they only allowed taking music composition classes towards a degree. At my age, I didn't want another degree. So I stumbled upon Oxford's Continuing Education Program, tried it and am now its "most loyal and humble servant."

'Since my wife Nancy takes history courses at Continuing Education, when we are not studying we take advantage of many of the wonderful historic sites that are part of her courses, both in Oxford and elsewhere. Even when we don't have a specific destination in mind, there are few better places than England to visit and to tour.

'The biggest challenge of the courses is getting out of one's "comfort zone" of composing music. Like many, I tended to write the same thing over and over. Jonathan Darnborough is an excellent, patient and diplomatic teacher who has helped me try new things as well as improve old approaches.

'By far the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect is the interaction with the students, the teachers and I even like the pressure of meeting compositional deadlines.

'To someone considering taking a Continuing Education course I would say “DO IT!” Not many in and around Oxford know about what is offered. Once they do, they get hooked, like me.'

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