The Village it Took

mr clark
My high school choir director Mr. Clark.

I have always said I am the lucky person who always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  A music teacher.

To be honest there was that brief moment when I was a child that I wanted to be a marine biologist but found out that there was much more to the job (and education) than just playing with dolphins.  Then there was that brief moment where I wanted to be an interior designer and took that elective in high school only to get a bad grade on an assignment because I colored outside the lines.

Outside the lines…high school??

Yep a music teacher it was.

Now my mom was a music teacher.  She was a singer and pianist when she was young and actually went back to get her degree when I was, I think, in third or fourth grade.  Now mind you I was the oldest of her, then, three children.

Think about that…back to college…with a 8 year old, a 5 year old, and a 3 year old.

With a lot of hard work, effort, and resilience she became a music teacher.

She was the kind of person and teacher who would not have only given you the shirt off her back, but if it didn’t fit she would have made you a new one.  I saw this many times as an audience member, page turner, and ultimately as a student in her choir (she subbed for my choir director in middle school).  She accompanied me in high school and always had great ideas on how I could be better.  Even now she is a sounding board for all things musical.

She is an excellent musician. She made music fun.  She made her students and myself understand the importance of music.  She loved her students unconditionally.  She made a lasting impression on me.

As you can see I had the nature and the nurture thing all tied up.  I was destined, thankfully, to be just like my parents.

But it doesn’t stop there for me.

I had an amazing high school choir director, Mr. Charles Clark.  Now Mr. Clark wouldn’t have given you the shirt off his back, but he would have sat you down and showed you how to make that shirt, for as long as it took.

He saw in me what I didn’t.  He gave me opportunities that I didn’t think I was all that ready for.  He believed in me.

He taught me that every child deserves the opportunity to sing.  That singing, music education, and the arts isn’t a privilege it is a down right, right!!  Every child no matter how “talented” could learn to sing and could become a part of the bigger picture in a choir and ultimately in life.  There was a place for everyone. Our choir was a family and I belonged.  I wanted to work hard for him.  I wanted to make him proud.  I wanted to become him.

And I did.

I had numerous voice teachers and choir directors over the years, and all of them contributed to who I am today.  Some showed me what to do and some showed me what not to do.  But none more than my mom and Mr. Clark.

It took a village.  A village of caring, wonderful, knowledgeable people to show me what kind of teacher and person I wanted to become.

I am blessed that I had those influences and I can only hope that I paid it forward.

My mom and family at her retirement from the Des Moines Public Schools

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

More Later



2 thoughts on “The Village it Took

  1. My junior high school music teacher Johnny Johnson did the same for me. He was a Tuba player who did gigs at night to supplement his income. His love and enthusiasm for instrumental music infected me. We never forget these people who change our lives. Great post!

  2. You definitely paid it forward, both of you ladies. Lloyd Baskin was also a tremendous help to Katie, teaching her piano with great patience. She now plays regularly and accompanies herself. I’m so glad she’s got music in her life.

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