Featured teacher: Michael Naylor

Dr. Michael Naylor

Dr. Michael Naylor, Director of Music for the Performing Arts Department. Michael Mishler | Washtenaw Voice

Michael Naylor
Director of music for the Performing Arts Department
Employee of WCC for 20 years


Q: What attracted you to teaching at WCC, rather than a larger university?

A: Well, I actually was at a university. I was teaching at Wayne State. What attracted me first was that they had a music professor here by the name of Morris Lawrence and he saw music from the perspective that both European and African music are both equally valid, and I thought that was important. The other aspect is that I really like community college because of all the ages and all the demographics. The focus for us is entirely on education, not just self-promotion.


Q: What do you most enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: Traveling. We created a project where we went to 48 countries, so I really love traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new food and hearing new music.


Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

A: Follow your heart and make sure that you do what you really, really love. I think I did do that and I am glad where I ended up, but I think I would’ve had a lot less anxiety if I would’ve known that as long as I’m true to myself, everything would work out. There were times when I was worried it wouldn’t, but it all worked out nice.


Q: What would you say is the biggest key to a student’s success at WCC?

A: I think they have to know themselves really well first and spend some energy doing that. In other words,  spend some time looking at what they’re good at, what they’re not, what they struggle with. The other thing is, don’t listen to what other people say in terms of what’s best for you based on money and power, but make sure you follow your internal voice.


Q: If you could meet any famous figure, living or dead, who and why?

A: I guess I would’ve liked to have met Nelson Mandela, because I just thought he had this personality that was so calm and so centered, yet he still had this sense of advocacy. I would also like to meet some jazz and classical musicians, so if I could throw in Beethoven and Miles Davis, I’d probably like to meet them too.


Q: What is your favorite movie and why?

A: I love fantasy movies and things like that. I love the “Lord of the Rings” movies where there’s deep stories and imagination and stuff, I love those. You know, “Star Wars” and whatever, that’s cool too, but “Lord of the Rings” is the best.


Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen/heard on the news lately?

A: I think one of the things that really troubles me is that people think in a rectangular fashion of either this or this, so when I look at the Republicans and the Democrats and I look at the way they isolate themselves in conservative and liberal rhetoric, it really troubles me that they’re setting a precedent for young people to isolate themselves under the belief that you have to be one or the other (you can’t be conservatively liberal, or liberally conservative). You can’t be a variety of things, but you have to pick one and narrow your guidelines, and I think that sets a really bad precedent for young people.



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