From the moment I began teaching, I was a member of GJMTA, CSMTA and MTNA. My former teacher in Grand Junction, Mary Leah Chavies, was one of the founding member of our local association and because of her influence, I always felt it was important to belong to this professional group. I have been fortunate to attend many National and State conventions throughout the years. I was in Florida in 2018 when Mary Leah was made a Foundation Fellow. We were successful in being able to keep this a surprise and it was one of the highlights of my life to see her face when she received this honor.
I was the treasurer of GJMTA for many years. I also was the chairman of the GJMTA Sonatina Festival for close to 20 years. During that time, I expanded the number of levels. I added a non-competitive solo/ensemble category to this event. I also began the GJMTA Performer's Choice festival which now runs every other year with Sonatina Festival. I did this in order to give our students a wider variety of repertoire to focus on and to offer an opportunity for our student's creativity and individuality to be recognized. I have also served on the committees for several other GJMTA events: Ribbon Festival, American Composer's Concert and the Adult Gala. Sydnee Martinez, one of my Shining Stars teachers, originated this event.
At the state level I served 2-3 years as the Foundation Chair and was in charge of the Professional Reading Program in 2017-2018. The focus that year was on teaching excellence. It has always been a challenge for someone from the western slope of Colorado to serve on the CSMTA Board. Attending meetings was always such a challenge. Maybe now, with our familiarity with on line meetings, we might remove this barrier and allow more teachers from our area to serve more actively at the state level.
Volunteering: Fortunately, our local association was fantastic in creating events and allowing every member to participate and volunteer in making them happen. Since I wanted to have these opportunities for my students, I was always enthusiastic about jumping in and helping out. Sometimes it was just making certificates for the Ribbon Festival, or more expansive with creating and chairing the Performer's Choice Festival. Taking on these volunteer positions never seemed difficult. Many other teachers worked along-side me to make these endeavors successful.
My most gratifying experience as a volunteer, was the year I hosted the 25th Annual Sonatina Festival. We commissioned Glenda Austin (whom we had met at national conventions) to compose a Sonatina for this event. Our judges were past participants of the festival. We hosted a pre-festival concert featuring student composed Sonatinas and an “Informance” recital by Dr. Linda Jenks in which she shared her talent and insights into Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. Being able to be part of such a celebration could never be duplicated. These experience are what keeps me motivated to continue volunteering to promote music and opportunities for teachers and students whenever I can.
Professional – Piano Teaching: I have had a private piano studio for over 35 years. When I began teaching there was a need for a Suzuki piano teacher in our area. I was trained through level 4 and taught Suzuki piano for the first half of my teaching career. I worked with a group of string Suzuki teachers and founded Grand Junction Talent Education, which held workshops and group opportunities for the Suzuki students in Grand Junction. In 2005, I became the music director at Crossroads United Methodist Church, located in the lower economic section of the Grand Valley. I was asked to teach many students that came from lower income families. I realized that in order to best support these students, I needed to adapt my Suzuki model of instruction. Therefore I began transitioning to a hybrid model of traditional teaching with some Suzuki elements, such as learning some pieces by rote/ear, keeping a group of review pieces, and a standardized basic repertoire list for all students. Currently I have around 35 private students who study with me each week.
Shining Stars Music Academy: In 2011 I started Shining Stars Music Academy as a ministry of Crossroads United Methodist Church. We started with a string teacher and myself and offered tuition assistance for students who were in need. It was a great location to reach out to students and families who normally wouldn't be able to afford private lessons. We were able to provide that opportunity for them. In 2019 we filed to become our own non-profit so that we could branch out to other areas of the city. Before the pandemic, we had 3 locations (all located in churches). One of the churches is still not allowing the public into their facilities but we hope to return when we can. We currently have 9 teachers, 6 who teach piano, 2 guitar, and 1 voice. One of our locations is near Colorado Mesa University and the hope is that when things return to “normal” we will be able to hire some of the university students to teach a wider variety of instruments.
Colorado Mesa University: The year my son completed his homeschooling (2011), an opening as a lecturer in the piano proficiency department of Colorado Mesa University became available. It was a great opportunity for me to continue to spend my days teaching, just at a different location and level. I began helping Dr. Arthur Houle by teaching one section of the proficiency sequence. Through the years, I have been put in charge of the whole proficiency sequence. We adopted Piano Marvel as part of our teaching curriculum in 2013. Since we were able to put our own technical exercise sequence into class-specific folders in the Piano Marvel library, we were able to continue teaching our core curriculum using this technology. This has made teaching a roomful of students at a variety of skill levels so much more effective and enjoyable. Our lab at CMU has 16 stations with keyboards and Apple computers so it was an ideal fit. This year, we are allowed only 50% capacity in our lab at a time, so I am teaching a hybrid class where students watch a video of me teaching the assignments for that week off campus one day a week and then attend class the other day to play them for me. It was a challenge (as we all know) to adapt to all the online instruction but some benefits have been that students have access to my instruction at any time and can review it as much as they like. Also, being able to connect virtually has helped students who miss class because of quarantine or illness to keep up with their work.
Personal: I have three children who I was fortunate to be able to home school. This was a great opportunity to spend quality time with my children. We all know, as a full time piano instructor, most of our teaching time is done after school and would have limited that crucial time with my children. My oldest, AJ (Allison Joy) has a Masters in Divinity from Claremont University and is currently the Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elizabeth has a Masters in Library Sciences from the University of British Columbia and is head of the adult collection at the Mesa County Public Library. She is an avid traveler, visiting Japan, Korea, Columbia, Peru and Poland. Zachary, my youngest, is finishing his Doctorate in Music Composition at Arizona State University. He has been married for 3 years and his wife just received her Doctorate in Materials Engineering. She is working at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My husband, Jeff, is retired and keeps busy with projects around home and with our rentals. He enjoys skiing with Elizabeth whenever possible.