Dr. Jeffrey Blersch receives Outstanding Teaching Award
Dr. Jeffrey Blersch, Concordia Nebraska professor of music and university organist, received the 2023 Outstanding Teaching Award May 5 during the university’s commencement honors dinner.
This honor is given to a full-time faculty member who has been nominated by students. A committee of students and faculty members who have previously received the award select the recipient.
Blersch is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where he received degrees in organ performance and music education and is also a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance. Prior to his appointment at Concordia Nebraska, Dr. Blersch served as Cantor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria, Ill., Associate Professor of Music at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich, and as an elementary music specialist in the Brunswick City Schools, Brunswick, Ohio. Blersch has been an active church musician since being appointed organist of Peace Lutheran Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, at age eight. Best known for his creative hymn interpretations, he regularly performs recitals and hymn festivals across the United States. Recent appearances have included hymn festivals at The Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, and conventions of the American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Blersch is also an active composer; more than 250 of his compositions and collections are published exclusively with Concordia Publishing House and four of his original hymn tunes are included in Lutheran Service Book. He has produced two compact disc recordings of his original works: Resounding Alleluias and On Christmas Night, the latter of which was recorded on Concordia Nebraska’s Casavant organ.
Students nominating Blersch stated that he cares deeply about his students and makes meaningful connections with them.
“Dr. Blersch demonstrates a personal care for each of his students through his words and actions, and [he] works with each student to work through any troubles, academic or otherwise. He possesses great knowledge, experience, and wisdom in his field of expertise and is able to convey that information to his students in a meaningful way,” one student said when nominating Blersch for the award.
"He builds personal relationships with each of his students, is a complete expert to look up to in the music world, and has high expectations but gives grace when appropriate. Dr Blersch makes concepts palpable that normally are hard to swallow and shows us why this information fits into our life and enriches it. He is someone I look up to immensely both in academics and in personal life. The way he clearly loves and cares for his wife and children is increasingly transparent the more I get to know him, and I strive to love those around me the way he does. I am so blessed to learn from him,” another student stated in the nomination.
Others students commented on Blersch’s genuine personality and outstanding musical talent.
“Dr. Blersch is really good at making everyone feel welcomed and valued in his choir. He shows genuine concern for each person and is excited to see where God leads them. Dr. Blersch is an extremely talented musician. Most pieces that are sung by his choirs are either written or arranged by him. He doesn't allow the fact that a piece is written for male and female voices to stop him, instead he rearranges the music so Cantamus can sing it,” the nomination said.
“He combined both a complete knowledge of the subject material, with the ability to teach this subject material in a way that is understandable. This means that he had a complete mastery of the subject in order to grasp all of the small nuances. Beyond a simple knowledge, he is also a good teacher in that he knows how to communicate this knowledge. This means that he is able to break down large difficult concepts into smaller steps. All throughout the process this is done through encouragement, and I (the student) was never made to feel like I was dumb, or incapable of learning the new material,” another student said.