Susan Tepping's Scotsdale condo practically overflows with music. It houses more than a dozen instruments, a large library of sheet music, and an impressive collection of recordings. Her music theory "office" is housed in her bathroom, and contains her doctorate degree in music from Indiana University and pictures of students collected from more than 20 years of teaching experience in Maryland public schools, at Georgia State University, and most currently at Agnes Scott College. Tepping is outgrowing the environment and plans to move a few blocks over to a house in which she plans to build a large music room for her grand piano and harpsichord, as well as a backyard section for her two large poodles, who are named after composers/theorists Hildegaard Von Bingen and Jean Philipe Rameau.
When did your life as a musician begin?
When I was 6 years old, my dad asked what string instrument I would play. I started on violin and switched to viola when I was 12 and big enough to hold one. I also started on the piano in about fifth grade.
How is music involved in your life now?
It's practically my whole life. I teach music theory, composition and orchestration at Agnes Scott College. I have private students in violin, viola, theory, composition and ear training. I am the director of the Four Seasons Chamber Orchestra. We have 35 members from age 8 to age 71.
Do you have any performances coming up?
We will be performing Nov. 20 at the Clairmont Oaks Apartments in Decatur. On Nov. 30, we will be performing at the Unitarian Universalist church. We will have our holiday concert on Dec. 10 at St. Thomas More, where we'll perform Handel's "Messiah."
What draws you to music theory?
It's a wonderful way to earn a living. To be honest, I would have been a composer if I had the guts. I've been composing since I was a little girl, but I was always afraid to come out as a composer. I'm counting on my students to make my own music famous. And I love to teach, that's really my bigger talent.
You have a lot of instruments in your house. What are your favorites?
I have an electric acoustic bass, a mandolin, a cello and three violas, one of which belonged to my father. It's very large and hurts to play with my arthritis, but it's probably one of my favorites. Oh, and violins, goodness! I have my first violin that my father bought for me when I was 12. I also have three or four violins for my students to use that I've picked up along the way. I'm sort of the Johnny Appleseed of violins. I also have a small Mason & Hamlin 1918 grand piano that my mother bought for me in 1964, and a harpsichord made by my father.
Do you collect anything else?
I have a teapot collection, a puppet collection and a doll collection.