Where Are They Now? – Dan Kyzer

Dan Kyzer, a graduate of the Class of 2005, attended Hillcrest for 5 years, from 8th through 12th grades. During his years at HCS, he played junior high football and was involved in band, indoor percussion, choir, chapel band, and drama.  Dan also played guitar, bass guitar, various percussion instruments, and the euphonium.

Just before graduating from Hillcrest, a dear friend of Kyzer’s and fellow HCS grad Jason Hobert (c/o 2004), introduced him to Dr. John Ingwerson, the classical guitar teacher at Hinds.  He began studying with Dr. Ingwerson that fall, and in two years earned a scholarship to Southern Miss.  In 2009, he began studying at The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with maestro Eliot Fisk, one of the great guitarists of our time. After finishing his Master’s Degree there, he moved to Denton, Texas to begin doctoral studies at the University of North Texas, where he earned a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship, and he is currently finishing his dissertation. As a Teaching Fellow at UNT, Dan served as the Director of the UNT Guitar Ensemble and taught applied lessons, guitar class, and guitar pedagogy.  His wife, Abigail, has a Master’s degree in Musicology from UNT.  They met there on the first day of class and were married in 2013.  The Kyzers still live just outside of Denton, and Abigail teaches private and group piano, as well as musicianship classes, at Coppell Conservatory.

Since 2014, Kyzer has taught applied and class guitar, music fundamentals, and music appreciation at Mountain View College in Dallas. That year, he founded the MVC Guitar Festival and continue to serve as its director; this weekend event takes place every April and includes concerts, masterclasses, competitions, and a community guitar orchestra. As a solo guitarist, he holds competition prizes from the Sierra Nevada Guitar Festival, Southern Guitar Festival (Columbia, SC), and Mississippi Guitar Festival, and he has been featured as an artist and adjudicator at the Lone Star Guitar Festival and the Collin College Guitar Competition.  Dan has collaborated with such ensembles as the Boston Metro Opera, MIT Women’s Chorus, Fort Worth Opera, Orpheus Chamber Singers, UNT University Singers, and Music Theater Denton. Currently, he and Abigail are working on “Concerto No. 1 in D Major” for guitar and orchestra by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco — their first major project together.

When asked what advice he would give to current and future HCS grads, Dan states the following: “Just as you practice a sport, an instrument, or an art, practice love and empathy. You will never know the influence your words and actions have and what your peers will remember when they think of you. Every time we can show love and caring, our lives are infinitely better than when we show bitterness, spite, and hate. These are the things that matter twelve years out of high school, far more than popularity, success, grades, and how much fun you had. On a more practical note, don’t worry if you don’t get into an Ivy League school or even to your second or third college choice. Also, if you don’t know what you want to do right after high school, don’t spend $40k (or even $10k) a year in tuition trying to figure it out. Determination and relentless curiosity — these are qualities that will help you make a plan to succeed both in your career and in life. They are just as important as the credentials you will surely earn from any college, whether you end up at Hinds, Ole Miss, or Harvard.”