‘Singing is such a part of human existence. There is no culture on earth that does not sing.’
“I was one of those high school juniors who had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, career-wise. I’ve always loved music but didn’t know if it was what I really wanted to do. When I was in 11th-grade, we went to this concert and it was a college choir that we heard. I was so moved, I thought to myself, ‘If I can make a living at experiences like this, as a creator of music, then that has to be the direction I go.’ That was kind of how it all started.
“Singing is such a part of human existence. There is no culture on earth that does not sing. We have this drive to make music with our voices. I think in young people it’s especially pronounced. My sons are seven and five and they wake up every morning and we hear them singing in their beds. It’s just something that we do as human beings.
“I teach 10th-through 12th-grade choir and music theory classes. I asked the students recently, ‘What does being involved in the school music program mean to you?’ and they all described the connections that it helped them make with their peers. One of the reasons this year has been so challenging is that it’s been hard to cultivate meaningful connections. For the first three-fourths of this year, the students had to be 12 feet away from each other at all times. Our friends in the phys ed department let us use their space. The pool where we were rehearsing is probably thousands of square feet, and we were so far away that they could barely hear each other. I tried my best and it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked.
I work hard not for any recognition but just because I find it so worthwhile. So, the fact that I get to do a job that I love, and then someone’s telling me from the outside that I’m doing a good job is pretty crazy.
“Thankfully, they’ve adjusted the guidelines and it’s been amazing getting to do the ‘choir thing’! In the fall, I found out that I was one of the 25 national semi-finalists for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Two of my former students—who are both studying to be music teachers—had nominated me. I did not win the award this year, but it was still really, really cool. I work hard not for any recognition but just because I find it so worthwhile. So, the fact that I get to do a job that I love, and then someone’s telling me from the outside that I’m doing a good job is pretty crazy. My students are extraordinary.”