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‘He is an institution here’: William Bausano, director of choral activities, retires

After 41 years of teaching, William Bausano has decided to retire after this semester.
After 41 years of teaching, William Bausano has decided to retire after this semester.

After 41 years at Miami University, William Bausano will be passing on his baton.

The professor of music, director of choral activities and conductor of the Chamber Singers and Choraliers is retiring this semester after a long career in Miami’s music department.

Bausano is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and graduated from Northern Michigan University. After college, Bausano and his wife went to graduate school at University of Southern California, where he was able to get his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting. He also taught vocal music in Los Angeles for a couple years.

The couple lived in Los Angeles for seven years before deciding they wanted to return to the Midwest. 

“We liked California, but we felt like we were Midwesterners and wanted to return to the Midwest,” Bausano said. “I was hoping I might find a college teaching position, maybe in a small town near a large city, and that’s what I did here in Oxford not too far from Cincinnati.”

Bausano said he was interested in music from a young age.

“Since early childhood I was always involved in music,” Bausano said. “With piano lessons, trumpet lessons, playing in the band and singing in a church choir, it was something that I did everyday, every year … I just wanted to continue in music and I thought I would enjoy teaching.”

Bausano has been to many different places across the world and said traveling allows him to make connections through music.

“Music is the international language of the world,” Bausano said. “Whereas I might not have some connection with a person from another country, I do have a connection with them through music. There may be other things we don't have in common, so it helps you be connected with the rest of the world.”

Bausano started working at Miami in 1981 and said he has stayed here since because of how much he loves it.

“One of the very most important reasons why I stayed here was because I like it here,” Bausano said. “It’s been a very positive experience. It turned out to be what I was looking for, and because I liked it here, I wanted to stay here.”

Outside teaching at Miami, Bausano conducted a church choir and a community choir and also raised his family in Oxford. 

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“I recently retired, but for many years I was involved as a church choir director in Oxford, and for many years I conducted a community choir,” Bausano said. “My wife and I raised our family here, so we have three grown children and seven grandchildren. So being a part of the community along with our children is what I’ve also spent time doing.”

Bausano said his favorite part about teaching is building relationships with students and colleagues. 

“Certainly the students and the colleagues – I feel fortunate to have good students,” Bausano said. “I feel fortunate to have good colleagues, and I think it’s a very healthy situation.”

Aidan Schacht, a first-year biochemistry and vocal performance major with a pre-medicine co-major, took a lyric diction course with Bausano last semester and is a part of the Chamber Singers.  

Schacht said Bausano is an excellent teacher and enjoys being a part of the Chamber Singers.

“I had Lyric Diction 1 with him last semester, and we talked after class,” Schacht said. “That was really the first time we connected, and he talked about how fun the whole program has been … I joined the Chamber Singers and ever since then it has been such a great time. We’ve gotten to sing a lot of different songs, and I’ve gotten to connect with a lot of people. I can label him as one of my favorite teachers of all time.”  

As for Bausano’s impact on his singing career, Schacht said the professor has helped him in many ways. 

“He brings this energy that is just constant,” Schacht said. “He’s been a mentor to me. After class we’ll talk sometimes and we’ll joke during class … As for singing, he’s really challenged my pronunciation of words when singing, and he’s given me tips on how to support myself in the dynamic sense and just with breath support.”

One of Bausano’s colleagues, Benjamin Smolder, associate professor of voice, said Bausano has had a huge impact on everyone in the music department.

“He’s been here for 41 years, so he is an institution here at Miami,” Smolder said. “He has led our choral program through four decades, he’s been chair of our department, a consummate musician, a charming personality, and he has impeccable taste in music. He’s been a leader in every fashion, and always done so with a smile on his face.”

Smolder said Bausano has been a mentor to him since he got to Miami.

“I learned from him to let things roll off my shoulders like rain,” Smolder said. “I mean, that’s how he has always handled it. He was the cornerstone of the voice department. He’s been here longer, he’s seen more changing of the guards than anyone else and he’s always someone I can look to for great advice.”

Though he’s leaving his four-decades-long home, Bausano said he has garnered friendships with his past students.


“I think I’ve had a positive influence on students,” Bausano said. “Many of them tell me when they graduate that they have appreciated what I’ve had to offer. I don’t like to do social media, so I’m not in touch with as many former students as I [could be], but those that I am in touch with have switched from students to friends. I think they are staying in touch with me because they appreciated what I was able to give them. I see that many of them are successful in what they are doing and while I can’t really take credit for that, I hope that I might be just a small part of it.”