I am a pianist, teacher, director, accompanist, coach and overall musical motivator. My musical journey began at age 7 when I began piano lessons. My parents actually used reverse psychology on me saying that they'd make me quit if I didn't practice enough. (That does NOT work for most children, so I don't recommend it). However, I loved the piano and when I'd visit my grandmother during the summer she'd ask me to play her beloved "Pioneer" songs over and over and that helped my sight reading ability immensely.
I was asked to accompany the Middle School choirs when I began the 7th grade and I shall always be indebted to Mrs. Joyce Horton who gave me such an amazing opportunity at such a young age to learn to be a proficient sight reader and my brain was young enough that I could divide it up and play only the soprano and the bass line or just the alto and tenor line. I then went on to work with three high school choir directors that impacted my life in a very positive way. Mr. Klark Black offered me the job of accompanying the Male Chorus as a freshman in high school. Our family moved after only a couple of months and we moved to the frozen tundra of Big Piney Wyoming. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful high school music director who allowed me to accompany the choirs as well as giving me to direct the Concert Choir for the High School graduation. I was just 14 years old and I think back now and realize how blessed I was as my children's high school doesn't even have a choir and music in the schools has become less and less of a priority, especially in California.
I really grew musically my last three years of High School. I met my high school director Georgia Fairbanks right before the start of my sophomore year as our family moved again that summer. (She is my friend to this day and I look forward to visiting her each summer as I attend a music workshop). I was terrified about another move, but my experiences at Davis High really gave me a great opportunity to improve my musical skills on a daily basis. I accompanied pretty much all the choirs there and played for all the musical productions. I spent more time in rehearsal than any of the leads because not only did I attend the rehearsals with the cast, but also the 7 a.m. rehearsals with the orchestra. When you're 15 years old,nothing seems too difficult. I'm so glad I got the experience and confidence at that age.
During that time I had the privilege of studying privately with Dr. Beverly Decker Adams. She had obtained a Masters in Music and then a Phd in Organ Performance even after marrying and having 4 children. (I appreciate that so much more now that I've had my own children). She was indeed a role model and mentor. She was called to be the first woman Tabernacle Organist and played for the very first Relief Society general meeting. I was lucky enough to be in the choir for that broadcast. She guided me in preparing pieces to play in high school music competitions and encouraged me to prepare a recital for my senior year in high school. She taught me music theory as she was a music professor at Westminster College and BYU Salt Lake extension.
I decided to study music at Utah State University. I wanted to go somewhere small and had heard great things about a young professor out of Julliard named Gary Amano. Initially he was not my chosen music teacher, but a friend gave him a call and asked if he'd take me for a student. I shall ever be grateful for that phone call, because studying with him was the greatest musical opportunity of my lifetime.
At first arriving as a new music major, I couldn't catch the vision of being a full time piano teacher ( sounded absolutely BOOORing). I decided to major in choral education because I had developed a love of choral music and thought it was definitely a possibility that I'd need to support myself and teaching seemed like a logical fit. After a semester of working with (then) Professor Amano and taking all the other music classes, I decided I needed to do a double music major, because working with him made me realize that improving my piano skills was paramount to all other musical successes. I accompanied a lot of musicians, productions, choirs and everything else that required piano accompaniment during my first two years at college. I loved ( and still do) having new music put in front of my face. I also studied voice with an excellent teacher, Professor Carol Hill. She got me excited about the whole area of vocal pedagogy and working with singers and helping them improve. Being a professsional accompanist started to seem like an even better fit for my talents, but I also loved teaching children.
At USU, a conservatory for young piano students had just been formed while I was a student. I was able (with Prof. Amano's supervision) teach young music students and get feedback from him and other music colleagues on best how to prepare them for Recitals and Competitions. I was able to teach some really talented students, some of whom have gone on to have careers in music. I finally got a vision of how teaching piano could be an exciting career and after wrestling with the decision decided to change my major to Piano Performance. That meant I'd have to give up all the hours of accompanying, because piano majors were required to practice 4 hours each day. I'm so happy I made that decision. The hours I spent slaving over a piano gave me a lifetime of learning. I shall always be grateful that I had that time to devote to improving the technique that I would need in the future.
Over the years I have taught hundreds of private students. It has been a privilege to be involved in each of their lives. I don't possibly remember all of their names, but am grateful for all of them. My music background has given me an opportunity to serve in every capacity in the LDS church. Primary music is definitely my favorite. Choir director and organist are the most challenging roles, but without my piano background I wouldn't be nearly as effective in any of those positions. Currently I'm taking a break from church music, because I've suffered a serious case of burnout, but hopefully in the future I'll be put in a position whereby I can contribute in a positive way in the church again.
Directing musical theater has become my new passion and love. I don't know how people possibly do it (and I have worked with many) who don't have serious piano skills. Piano helps in every aspect of music and accelerates the learning process. That's why a child with musical talent should always be directed to the piano. If they have gifted singing abilities, piano playing will enable to learn music quicker. If they are drawn to another instrument, that instruments study will be accelerated if they have learned to read at the piano.
Music is like oxygen for me. I can't live without it and am grateful for each musical opportunity that comes my way. I try and inspire my students to seek for excellence. Musical discipline can be transferred to any area of life. I'm glad I know what it's like to practice 4 to 8 hours a day.