I currently work as the Choir Teacher and Stage Crew Advisor at South Jordan Middle School (UT). I teach over 200 students every day. Previous the being at South Jordan Middle, I taught 6th grade at Midas Creek Elementary (UT) where I was responsible for teaching 28 amazing students every subject (10) required by the state. I also worked with the school choir and was the music director for our 6th grade play. Concurrently and previous to these positions, I have been teaching private voice and piano for a number of years. During all of this time, I have had opportunities to perform and/or direct various productions. I even homeschooled my two eldest children for four years when they needed it most.
More importantly than where I work or my own accomplishments is my philosophy of education. My philosophy has always been to teach my students the skills they need to empower themselves in their learning. This means being a facilitator and mentor that guides the learning of my students based on what they know, what they need to know and where they want to go.
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I grew up in Glendale, Arizona which was considered a small town next to Phoenix. Today it’s about 400,000 people strong. I was raised by my paternal grandparents which gave me a vastly different perspective of the world and how it worked. I started my musical journey by wanting to play the piano. I was told no by my grandparents since my father and his sisters had never stuck to any musical instrument and they didn’t want to waste any more money on lessons that would go nowhere. This didn’t stop me. Instead, I began to teach myself. Eventually, a piano was purchased for me and I began real lessons. I went to Cactus High School where I enjoyed all of my classes, but especially choir. I loved choir so much that I finagled my schedule so I could take two choirs every year for four years. I also joined a local theater where I participated in a number of plays and musicals, was often a featured soloist at Christmas events and was a member of Kids Alive that travelled all around the US and even the Soviet Union. These and other events provided the basis for my educational philosophies and endurance that I would need in order to finish my “education” in music.
I left Glendale for Provo, Utah where I began my degree in Vocal Performance at BYU. The next three years were up and down for me. I experienced health problems that didn’t help my occasional bouts of laziness. I spent many days trying to overcome the powerful negative words that were often pointed at me by my teachers and professors and even resided in my head because of doubt. I eventually decided that despite a love for music and years spent trying my best, I wasn’t good enough and left. I spent the next year preparing for my first child, pretending I didn’t play the piano or sing. However, people eventually found out and I was asked to perform often. My love of music won out. I found my love of performing again. I just wasn’t going back to that college. Needless to say, it took a number of years before I could find my way back to finishing my degree. Despite the many years between colleges, I never gave up performing or sharing my knowledge. I found ways to learn from experts, my private students and even children I was often put in charge of at local schools for various concerts and plays in Northern Utah. However, it wasn’t until I took a chance to go back to school at USU and was put in front of some amazing teachers that I found my “voice” again. One in particular, Mary Shearer, showed me my value. She did it by listening to me, helping me build my skills and just making me believe in my abilities again. I haven’t seen her in a number of years but I can say that if it wasn’t for that one person who believed as I do about teaching, and showed me the endless possibilities, I don’t know if I would have taken the risk of finishing my degree. I didn’t get to stay at USU. However, that year I was there was the pivotal moment I knew I had to finish. I didn’t know where and I didn’t know how but the day that knew I found the place for me was the day I became alive again. For me, this is what teaching is all about. Helping students find their niche, their voice, their path. Whatever you call it, I know it is there for everyone.
I have been richly blessed with four children and two grandchildren (Wow, I feel old!) and many experiences at various places around the globe. I hope you will join me in this new experience of sharing my knowledge and understandings as well as those I call my “experts” with you about music. The caveat in this whole adventure is that the knowledge I hope to share will be things that everyone can use, not just musicians. Let us help our children, our students, our peers, find their voice!