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New music school in Thailand honors beloved WVU professor

Peter Amstutz stands with the sign for the Amstutz Music School in Thailand

Longtime West Virginia University Professor of Piano Peter Amstutz visited Bangkok, Thailand, over the summer for the grand opening of a new music school named in his honor.

The Amstutz Music School was founded by WVU School of Music alumna Onpavee “Kune” Nitisingkarin and co-founders Patthikarn Laoprapassorn and Yosathon Laoprapassorn. 

“Learning of the family’s plan to name their school for me was a total surprise, but warmly affirming,” said Amstutz, who has taught at WVU since 1988. “It’s a reminder that we never really know what effect we might have on others and their future.”

Amstutz taught Nitisingkarin from 2009-2015 while she attended WVU to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in piano performance. As a WVU Young Artist Competition winner, she was a soloist with the WVU Symphony Orchestra. She teaches now at the College of Music, Mahidol University, Thailand’s premier university-level school of music.

Peter Amstutz cuts the ribbon for the Amstutz School of Music

In Morgantown, far away from her home in Thailand, Nitisingkarin looked to Amstutz for musical training, but also appreciated his advice on day-to-day life. “I have always tried to foster a sense of family and community with my students, especially because many of them come to WVU from other countries and are away from their own families,” Amstutz said. “It’s clear that Kune and her entire family appreciated that approach.”

The lobby of the Amstutz Music School

A few years after Nitisingkarin graduated, Amstutz and his wife visited her and her family in Thailand, as part of their Asian trip. It was then that the family first let him know of their plans to build and name a music school in his honor.

“It was quite a shock at first. I actually asked them to reconsider, pointing out both that I don’t pretend to be famous and also that everyone would have trouble pronouncing my name,” Amstutz said.

While in Thailand this summer for the grand opening of the Amstutz Music School, Amstutz participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, gave a presentation entitled “In Beethoven’s Footsteps” to piano teachers, and taught several master classes for piano students.

Peter Amstutz stands with WVU grads in Thailand

The Amstutz Music School combines the Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Orff Schulwerk teaching techniques and offers classes and lessons for pre-college students. The school, which is located in Bangkok’s central business district, currently employs 12 faculty members and teaches more than 200 students.

“Walking through this beautiful new facility in July was tangible proof for me that there is value in the education we offer at WVU,” Amstutz said. “Seeing our students take this knowledge out into their communities around the world is truly gratifying.”