I am excited to be teaching Music at St. George! I grew up in Mesa, Arizona just West of the Superstition Mountains and not far from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where I met my husband Tom, a native of Mary’s Home.
21 years ago, after spending time in both Utah and California, we packed up our five kids and moved to Jefferson City.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love music. I think it’s a family thing. My Great Grandpa Olsen, a Danish immigrant, directed a choir in Northern Utah for 40 years and my mom and her six sister, when they were young women, sang close harmony in the same community.
Whether singing and dancing as my mom played children’s songs on the piano, stealing the mic from my brothers in what was supposed to be a trio performance, or making music in a variety of choirs, bands and orchestras, music has always been a huge part of who I am.
Ultimately, I teach and make music because it is powerful. Whether it be at church, home, school, or some other place, making music together draws us closer to God and makes us better, more compassionate human beings.
Before moving to Missouri, I ran a private studio teaching voice and flute to children. I have directed choirs and been in charge of children’s music at church. For the last nine years I have been the artistic director of the River City Youth and Children’s Choirs in Jefferson City. This summer I completed my first level of a three year Kodaly music teaching certification.
Music is a developmental subject — just like reading or math. So, we’re going to learn these basics by singing a lot of songs, and playing a variety of music games that will increase in complexity by grade. Here are some of the things students will learn and become increasingly skilled at each year.
1. Healthy, In-tune Singing. Unless there is some kind of physical disability, everyone can learn to sing. Really! It may take longer for some than others, but as we consistently learn and apply the basics of healthy vocal production and inner hearing, all of our students will learn to sing in tune. I’ve seen again and again.
2. Beat, Rhythm, Meter. We will work to develop an internal sense of steady beat. We will learn to identify, read, improvise, perform, and write rhythm patterns. We will learn to identify meters such as 2/4, 4/4, 6/8 etc. And students will learn to play rhythmic accompaniments.
3. Tempo, Dynamics, Timbre. Tempo is how fast or slow the music goes. Dynamics are how loud or soft the music is. Timbre (pronounced TAM-ber) is the quality of sound that let’s us know who is singing or whether we are hearing a trumpet or a flute. Students will be able to identify these in songs and be able to determine what would be appropriate in performing their own and other people’s compositions.
4. Melody and Harmony. Using solfa (pitch syllables like in Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music), students will learn to identify whether pitches are moving up, down, or staying the same (Melody). They will learn to hear, sing, improvise, read, write, and sight sing pitches that are moving stepwise, or with large and small skips in a variety of patterns. Starting in third grade, students will learn to sing and play parts. Also starting in third grade, we will begin to use absolute pitches (letter note names) when reading and writing music.
5. Form and Analysis. We will learn to listen carefully to the music we sing and be able to discuss how it’s put together and why the structure makes a difference.
6. Masterworks. Every year, will learn to listen to, respond to, and discuss works by major composers of different musical genres, cultures, and time periods.
I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know the St. George Family!