I started the Texas Hill Country Youth Choir, previously known as the Fredericksburg Children's Chorale, 20 years ago at age 29. I was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Texas in the home that my parents still live in today.
For me, singing was a life long passion that led me to the University of Texas at Austin where I majored in music. In college, I married my high school sweet heart and upon graduation, we moved back to his ranch in my hometown. Unfortunately, opportunities to sing and utilize my skills were hard to come by.
To continue my education, I completed a sacred music certificate from Perkin's Seminary and received a master's degree in choral conducting. During this time, I had two children a year apart and began my first children's choir.
I was infected with my love of choral singing when I heard the first note sung by the Texas All-State Choir at our first rehearsal. I was the first of only six students who have earned a spot on the prestigious all-state choir roster from Fredericksburg high school in the last 30 years. Because of this life-changing experience there, I made it a priority to help the other students prepare and succeed in the competition.
My formative school years were spent in the band program, playing flute under the direction of Tom Rhodes, a charismatic conductor who produced one of the best band programs in the state. He instilled the importance of commitment, hard work, discipline, punctuality, dedication and appreciation of the process of becoming a performer who achieves excellence.
I, too, wanted to have an organization that brought that same excellence through singing. I wanted to be able to lead young singers to achieve more than they could have dreamed they could. I wanted to be able to take them to places that they might not ever be able to travel to on their own. I wanted to create memories of a lifetime and help instill a life-long love of singing and the appreciation of excellent choral literature. I wanted to give them opportunities that other children in large metropolitan area have to offer. I did not have this outlet as a child, and I wanted others to have the chance to sing.
So, here we are 20 years later. My youngest child Dana is singing with me for her last year as a senior in high school. We have had nearly 1500 singers pass through our doors. Some have stayed for as long as 12 years. Some have become professional singers, music teachers, successful professionals, parents and citizens. Some have not liked me because of my demanding expectations; many have remained friends and colleagues. We have traveled to Canada twice, Europe once, been chosen as honor choirs for the Texas Music Educators Association, the American Choral Director's Association, and as Outstanding Choir at many competitions. We have commissioned new choral works for children from various composers. We have hosted choral festivals and have sold everything possible to raise funds. We have made judges, parents, audiences, and residents of nursing homes cry because our music touched them. To me, touching others through musical excellence is what it is all about. And, this comes about through the hard work and practice of the singers in the choir. They believe in what they are doing, and it comes across in their performances. Young people want to be challenged and want to spend their time productively, regardless of what our society says.
Our singers are from every walk of life: rancher's children, single parent