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The Source of the Talent : A Conversation With Sibley Art and Music Teachers

Sibley has always enjoyed a wide array of arts and music offerings. In fact, Sibley is one of the few schools of its size to have an orchestra program. We wanted to talk to some of the arts and music teachers just to find out a little bit about t...

Sibley has always enjoyed a wide array of arts and music offerings. In fact, Sibley is one of the few schools of its size to have an orchestra program. We wanted to talk to some of the arts and music teachers just to find out a little bit about them, their backgrounds, and especially how they use art and music in their everyday lives.

The orchestra teacher, Amanda Czepa studied Music Education at Augsburg College. In her spare time she is part of a string quartet, and runs a studio where she gives piano, violin, viola, and cello lessons. She believes there are numerous benefits to having art and music in public schools, but the one that sticks out to her the most is giving students a chance to express themselves in a way that might be limited in another class. She believes music lets her students have a bad day and release it with sound. Music and art is such an important tool in a person's life : "it's a spark, it's an expression, it's a personality; I can't stress enough how important these programs are in our schools today.

The choir director, Aaron Kapaun, attended University of Minnesota Duluth and received a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Music Ed. and minor in Jazz Studies. As for music outside of school, he sung with and served as section leader for World Voices for six years and currently directs the Gar Lockrem Community Choir. "Music is uniquely human," he says. He believes that humans are drawn to music because of the connections we can make because of it. It has that effect on us. Music classes also help students develop extremely important life skills that students would not necessarily otherwise get the chance to develop.

Mary Longley is an art teacher at Sibley. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from the University of Minnesota, a BS in Art Ed and a Masters in Art Ed/Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin. She is a working artist and has a studio in Northeast Minneapolis; she has shown her work around the region, including Chicago. She thinks art is a key point in graduating well rounded students and believes that there is great intrinsic value in creating. Original thinking is encouraged in art, and she thinks we need more of that.

Carol Patt grew up in New York but ended up coming to Minnesota for college. She started out studying archaelogy, but graduated with an art degree. She later went back to get her graduate degree and has been teaching ever since. Her main area of expertise is ceramics. She shows her art every few years and has her own studio. As far as her ideas about art education are concerned, she says that she believes that the "arts are the heart and soul of school and without it, we become decidedly less human."

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Staffer Talia Milavitz sat down with Choir Director Aaron Kapaun for a more in-depth interview. Here are some excerpts from their talk:

Q: How did you decide you wanted to become a music teacher?

While my friends were deciding to go into different fields I looked at my talents, skills and interests and it pointed me towards vocal music education. I had always been interested and naturally gifted in music so it was a good fit.

Q: What are the benefits of enrolling in a music class?

Music is uniquely human. One could say that math, language, sciences, government are as well, however, nothing engrosses our daily life as much as music. Music is a part of our everyday lives, and it is a special connection that humans share. From the music in the background of commercials, to the soundtracks in the back of video games, to the music we listen to on our headphones, humans are drawn to music because of the connecting power it has on all of us. Music classes also help students develop extremely important life skills that students would not necessarily otherwise get the chance to develop. Additionally, music develops social skills, embodies teamwork and enriches our souls. While that might sound philosophic, it's true.

Q: What kind of effects do you think the six-period day is going to have on music programs?

Its difficult to say at this point, however, what I fear is that students automatically think that they can't take music while that is not true. It may mean that it will take more creative scheduling, but in the end it's worth it. One thing I have learned from my fourteen years of teaching is that students often don't realize their own musical potential until their junior year. By that time, they realize that they couldn't imagine their lives without music. I look at the incredible talent that comes out at each talent show and think to myself, if I could only show those students where they will be in a few years if they spend time studying music in high school. Students in this generation need to understand that employers are looking for individuals who are driven, have excellent work ethic, who are creative thinkers and know what it takes to commit to a project and see it through. All of these important life skills are developed through the study of music because it takes determination. All people have this potential and I truly enjoy being someone who can help young people realize it.

Q: For students who may not be able to enroll in a music class next year, what kind of extracurricular music options are there?

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There will still be options such as Jazz Band, Winter Guard, Drumline, Fiddles and Friends, Jazz Choir, Encore, the Sibley musicals and opportunities to perform at talent shows, but these things won't help student achieve success as quickly as taking music as a class because they do not meet daily. Just like anything else, music takes practice to develop confidence. Confidence not just to succeed, but confidence to be able to fail, learn from mistakes and then succeed. That's how true learning and development happens, especially with young people. I would encourage everyone interested to sign up for music next year and keep the strong traditions of high quality music education a priority in our school.

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