This is long, but I’m excited about the announcement that comes at the end of all the backstory so I hope you’ll suffer through and read the whole thing.
In spring of 2002, I stood among hundreds of girls in the Southern Division Regional Honor Choir in either Virginia or North Carolina (I can’t remember) and auditioned for a small ensemble of 16 singers for one of the pieces. Anton Armstrong kindly told me I had a lovely voice, and I would never be the same again. I was good at something, and I was hooked.In the spring of 2003, Moses Hogan was supposed to conduct the Mississippi All State Honor Choir, but he died just a few weeks before. We dedicated the concert to him, and there was such a presence of reverence and respect and awe and sadness in the room. So many adults were crying. There was something healing about the music that brought mourning people peace, and I was hooked.
In January of 2004, the Illinois All State Chorus sang the Finale from the Gondoliers, and we filled the room with joy. It was silliness and laughter and joy from music, and I was hooked.
In January of 2005, Edith Copley conducted the men in the Illinois All State Honors Chorus to sing The Awakening. I sat among those men, their voices surrounding me, as they sang, “Awake, awake my soul and sing! The time for praise has come. The silence of the night has passed, a new day has begun. Let music never die in me, forever let my spirit sing, wherever emptiness is found let there be joy and glorious sound! Awake, awake! Let music live! Let music live!” That was the moment. I clearly remember deciding in that moment that I was officially never going to stop with the whole choir thing. If I could just give anyone the experience that I’d had through choirs in high school, I would be a success, and in that attempt, I was going to go to college to pursue vocal music education.
I went to college and had even more amazing choral experiences. I was lucky and blessed and obsessed, like singing Praise to the Lord on the Great Wall of China. Then some things happened that resulted in a student teaching placement of only K-8 instead of high school, and I was pretty disappointed. But it turned out that elementary music was a really fun, different, challenging experience, and I really enjoyed it. But my dream of never giving up on the choir thing never disappeared. It was just swept under the rug in favor of my love for the littles and a budding romance with the love of my life. There was even a point where I was just so content where I was, and I didn’t even feel the need to move up to “meat and potatoes” music.
I learned so much teaching elementary school. Endless patience, unconditional love, a deep care and passion for young children are a few things. I was able to mature into a mom figure instead of feeling so very young. But my desire to dig deeper into music with older children never really left me.
In that light, I am beyond thrilled (and terrified and nervous and nauseated and joyful and quite a few other emotions) to tell you that I’ll be returning to teaching in the fall after a wonderful, restful year off to Riverton High School as the Vocal Music Director. And as if I’m not spoiled enough to see my 14-year-in-the-making dream come true, I’ll be teaching only 4 classes a day and home with my kiddos for the rest of the day, truly experiencing the best of both worlds. And to top it off, I get to be at the district where I’ve grown and learned so much. And as a cherry on top of even that, my freshmen will be the kids who were in fourth grade my first year at Riverton.
It may seem dramatic to you, but to me, it’s a miracle and an answer to a long-running, fervent prayer. To God be all the glory. Let music live!