Adam Clifford joins Norfolk Academy full-time in 2023-24, teaching orchestra in the Lower School and directing the School of the Arts. Mr. Clifford is an energetic pianist, violinist, composer, and teacher who seeks to give students a sense of the creative possibilities in music. His musical background extends beyond performance and pedagogy into composition, conducting, production and recording, and piano restoration. He has produced and recorded three albums. He has performed extensively throughout the United States and in France, and in July 2022, made his solo-orchestral debut on piano under the baton of Marius Stravinsky in Italy. Performing frequently in Hampton Roads, he was invited by the Feldman Chamber Music Society to present a solo recital in July 2022 at the Chrysler Museum of Art, returning in September to present a chamber music recital with violinist Emily Ondracek-Peterson, Director of Old Dominion University’s Diehn School of Music.
To help you better get to know NA's new faculty, each of them answered a few questions about their careers and interests.
Why become a teacher?
In short, because I love teaching! Looking back on my formative years, my classroom teachers and especially my music teachers had an immeasurable impact on me: on my musical understanding, on my work ethic, on my sense of self. Through the influence of my teachers, I developed my own form or version of their curiosity and passion, which together now represent perhaps the central-most component in my approach to pedagogy. Music is a language that knows no barriers; it is the highest form of artistic expression and offers each of us the opportunity to connect with or even confront our innermost thoughts and selves in a way that is healthy, constructive, and often healing. The benefits of music education in developing cognitive ability and reasoning, particularly in elementary school-age children, cannot be overstated. For this and many other reasons, I consider my role as an educator both a privilege and a responsibility.
What excites you about Norfolk Academy?
For me, one of the ways in which Norfolk Academy most stands out is demonstrated in the school's integration of music and the arts into the so-called standard, day-to-day curriculum; students have the unique opportunity to take music lessons during the school day. Last year, I was invited to join the adjunct music faculty at Norfolk Academy. I amassed a studio of roughly 17 piano and violin students and enjoyed every moment I spent on campus, so I determined myself to get involved wherever I could. I accompanied the Lower School Choruses in their weekly rehearsals and in each of their performances. I was given the opportunity to lead a music station on Seminar Day and had the privilege of interacting with a quarter of the Lower School student body as I put Amanda Gorman's children's anthem, Change Sings, to music. I served as music director in the Lower School's production of Newsies: The Musical, accompanying the students and working alongside them in performances that, to speak boldly, brought down the house.
When I am not practicing, teaching, or writing music, I enjoy spending time with my Jack Russell, Alfie. He is tolerant of my practicing at all hours! I also enjoy restoring pianos, graphic design and interior design, reading and writing, and hiking - conquering the Appalachian trail in one go is on my bucket list.
One fun fact about you students might find interesting?
I was primarily self-taught on the piano until my early 20s.