Posted at 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 2016

Turning passion into vocation

Music major looks to share her passion with future generations

“It’s a lot of commitment because you’re not serving yourself, you’re serving others and so you need to be really committed to be able to serve others and to do it well and to do it with integrity and to bring out the best in your students … You’re doing it for the kids,”

Beth Kean

Freshman Music Major

A person’s experience can shape the path an individual can take with their life, whether it’s early involvement, guidance, or family. Laramie County Community College Instructor of Choral Music Beth Kean and freshman music major Sara Romain seemed to carve their own path.

Kean said music came about through her early involvement as a child and remained strong and constant throughout her life.

“My mom was actually a music teacher,” Kean said. “My parents started us all on instruments, and I started piano when I was in kindergarten.” Kean’s instrumental education and knowledge didn’t end there, either. She continued on and began playing the cello in elementary school, sticking with it as well as piano all the way through college.

Kean said in the early stages of her life, she knew music was what she wanted to pursue.

“I think by the point of junior high, I liked music so well that it was kind of what I wanted to do,” Kean said. “And so I played in school orchestras and kept taking piano lessons and then when I went to college, I knew that I wanted to be a music teacher.”

Though, in college, Kean said her pursuit of musical education was thrown a curve-ball.

Since her main instrument in college was piano, her time was consumed by practicing. “I thought because I played in orchestra that I would do orchestra as my emphasis,” she said. She had to choose between going on the vocal music course and an orchestral course. “I auditioned for both cello and voice … I knew my secondary instrument couldn’t be both, that I would have to be one,” Kean said. Kean was accepted into the choral music path, which put her on her track to being a choir teacher.

“I caught on and really started to enjoy it (choir) a lot,” she said. “And I think the thing I enjoy the most about choral music is that it has text to relate to, to me and to the singers and to the audience, especially.”

Kean said rather than focusing on the performance aspect of vocal music, she decided to pursue vocal music education.

“I think part of it is that I have had great music educators growing up,” Kean said. Her first orchestra teachers created the positivity that drew her in to the world of music education. “It was just really fun and exciting to be there and I saw the affect that they had on me and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I could do the same thing,’” she said.

Having great guidance in music growing up influenced Kean’s decision to want to create the same positive bubble of learning she received for her students.

“It’s a lot of commitment because you’re not serving yourself, you’re serving others and so you need to be really committed to be able to serve others and to do it well and to do it with integrity and to bring out the best in your students … You’re doing it for the kids,” she said.

Though the commitment is large, she believes it gives back to her just as much as she gives to it.

“I think (the most rewarding part is) seeing the light bulbs on the students’ face when they understand something or when they’re connecting with a text,” Kean said. “Like if we’re in rehearsal and they finally understand what the text means in the relationship with the music and then they can express it fully; that’s what it’s about.”

Kean’s teachings have seemingly come full circle, as freshman music major Sara Romain is pursuing a career in music because of Kean.

”Mrs. Kean was my biggest influence,” Romain said. “When I was in eighth grade and I was auditioning for high school choir, I didn’t think I was going to do choir in high school… then I went for my audition for high school and she [Kean] was having me sing certain things and I was like, ‘I can’t sing that’ and she was like, ‘No, you can’t say that you can’t, because you can’ and from then on, being put in a more advanced choir, she really pushed me to grow.”

Romain said she was influenced not only by Kean, but by other music educators that pushed her to do more with music.

“When I was in junior high, I didn’t think I was any good at it [singing]. Mrs. Montgomery… told me that if I didn’t ask my mom to audition for the All-Northwest honor choir that she would call her during class and ask my mom herself,” Romain said.

“So I auditioned and I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m getting in’ and I did. I was so shocked and then from the first note that we all sang together as a choir, it gave me goosebumps and my eyes filled up with tears. I just kind of knew that I did want to do music, I did want to stick with it,” she said.

Still in her first semester of college, Romain is looking to make a decision on what track she wants to pursue in music: educational or performance. The impressions music educators have made on Romain are seemingly playing into her decision between the two.

“I’m in between the two tracks of education and performance because I don’t know which one I want to do,” Romain said. “I’m leaning more towards education because I’ve had awesome teachers. I’m still continuing to have great teachers in college teaching me about things that I had no idea (about). I want to be able to send that on and share that and I get to teach my passion and share it with people who are just as passionate as me and think that’s really exciting.”

What Kean described as the most rewarding part of her career, Romain feels just as much.

“The most rewarding part is when you’re in a concert or you’re practicing and the music just hits you,” Romain said. “And it just brings you to tears, that’s the best part, I think. When you can feel it in your whole body and everyone around you feels it, too.”


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