My Musical Life History
I was raised just outside of a small town, Fontana, Kansas but because Fontana is close to Kansas City my family was able to take advantage of that so I gained many cultural experiences. My upbringing has had a significant impact on my desire to become a music educator.
My mom loved to play instruments when she was growing up and she often played the piano for me. My dad sang in the choir at his school. I have two siblings. My sister Becky used to play the clarinet in fifth grade but she decided that she wanted to put more of her time into her science classes so she quit band and I inherited her clarinet. My brother Brian is autistic so we did not know if he would be able to keep focused enough to be in band but he tried to be in band for a year as a percussionist but he decided that he was wanted to make art instead. My parents and grandparents are very important role models to me. They have been very supportive to me when it comes to my music. When I had a concert or recital they would come and watch me when I was back at home. My family still shows up from time to time to see some of my performances but since my family lives so far away from K-State they do not always show up for everything.
As a child I was raised in 4-H, I had been in 4-H for 12 years before coming to Kansas State University for college. A lot of my experiences in 4-H have helped me decide that I want to become a music teacher. Currently I live at Alpha of Clovia (a 4-H scholarship house) and I hold the office of house song leader. As a child growing up, I went and performed solos and ensembles at county club days and my senior year of high school I got top purple for my bass clarinet solo at county and regional 4H days, and I had received Grand Champion of Performing Arts multiple times in my county for my clarinet and bass clarinet solos.
I went to Fontana Elementary School when I was little and my class only had 12 people. It was a very small school so everyone knew each other. Eventually I went to middle school and high school at Prairie View USD 362. That was a huge change for me. When I got into middle school my class size was around 90 people. This change helped show me viewpoints from different perspectives. Even though, people did not always agree, music was something that brought majority of the students together.
I started band in the 5th grade on the clarinet. I performed a solo on my clarinet my 5th grade year at a school wide talent show and I was given a lot of compliments. I loved playing, so I decided to continue in band when I got into middle school. My 7th grade year, we got a new band teacher, at that time her name was Miss Gilligan. She is an important role model for me. She had so much fun teaching us that I knew from then on that I wanted to become a music teacher. She has helped me become a better person as well as a better musician. She helped me become more disciplined and open minded to others.
Freshmen year of high school, I auditioned for Prairie View’s top choir and I made it in and I was still in band. I learned a lot of beautiful music that year in choir but I decided that I loved band more and that I wanted to learn music theory.
In my sophomore year of high school, I decided to learn how to play the saxophone and I joined my school’s jazz band. I took a music theory class at school. I also went to Kansas Lions Band Camp that summer and I went to Chicago and marched in the Lions’ Club parade. I made a lot of friends and I learned a lot of music.
My junior year of high school in band, I made it into All-State 1234A band on my bass clarinet. That was a great achievement for me because at that time I had not taken any private lessons from anyone. I had to figure out how to play the passages for myself. That summer I went back to Kansas Lions band camp and I got first chair bass clarinet out of 15 bass clarinets.
My senior year of band, I had started taking private clarinet and bass clarinet lessons from Charles Kessinger. I loved going to my private lessons. Getting clarinet lessons from him was like going to a therapy session. Charles is a very good teacher because he would gives out advice about becoming a teacher and he would say, “It is not always about how big your band program is. It is about whether or not you have good band students.” He always preached about quality over quantity. He has been significantly helpful to my development as a musician and as a future music teacher.
I also joined Heartland Saxophone Group and learned more about the saxophone. I decided to take music theory again since my teacher had changed up her lessons since I had taken the class and she had us learn music history in one semester and in one semester we learned different instruments and a little about conducting. I decided to learn how to play tuba. I gave private lessons to different students that wanted help with their solos. One student that made an impression on me was a little girl named Madison and as a 5th grader she went to a solo competition and got a I rating with the help of my teaching. I was very happy that she had been successful.
That same year I made it into All-State 1234A band again on bass clarinet. That summer I went back to Kansas Lions band camp again and learned more things about clarinet from the clarinet professor at Friends University.
Throughout all of these events, I have made a lot of friends and I have learned a lot of interesting things about music. All of these events have had a positive influence on me. Music has kept me going through the years. My life would not be what it is today without music. I have met most of my friends because of music.
I want to become a music teacher because I love people and I want to share my love of music with others. Seeing students be successful makes me excited for the fact that I can help students become better musicians.
As a first year teacher, I am mostly worried about my conducting skills and being able to push students to become better as musicians. There is so much to music: rhythm, intonation, dynamics, tempo changes… etc. I am worried that I might not keep a steady balance on all of these elements of music with my students and that they will be very good at one thing then they will not know as much about another part of music.
I am sure that after I graduate from Kansas State University then I will be confident when I actually go out into the teaching field. The first day on the job, I am hoping that the most of my worries will be trying to figure out names of students.
If I was to go out into the world as a teacher now, I do not think that I would be ready because I do not know how to play all of the instruments yet. I would not be very successful.
For myself to become a successful teacher, I need to take more education classes so that I know how to deal with different kinds of students as well as finish up with my conducting classes, piano classes, theory classes, and tech classes. I need to know all about my subject of expertise before I can teach others. In college to become a good teacher I need to gain leadership experience because as a band director I will be the leader of my band. Leadership experience would come from being in organizations like CMENC or by being a drum major in marching band.