I have wanted to be a music educator since cell phones were the size of bricks and before tablets or smartphones even existed. Two years after high school, I started an Associate’s degree in Music at SLCC. I loved composing, arranging, and conducting and had no other life-plans except to find a high school where I could teach until my arms fell off. It took me longer than I expected to complete this degree and, in the meantime, I had gotten married, had my first child, built a home (with the accompanying mortgage) and started a growing piano service business to pay for school. My wife, Jan, had finished her degree and started a successful career as a computer programmer. We wanted to raise our kids with a stay-at-home parent so we were faced with a difficult decision: sell everything we had started building, move into student housing and finish up a music degree or be totally unconventional and have me stay home while she worked. The latter seemed easier and made more sense financially so that is what we pursued.
I continued to work part-time around my kids’ schedules in the piano industry. Eventually my piano business reached a point where I didn’t know what direction to take it so we decided to pursue an online degree in business administration. While working while kids were occupied and hiring apprentices to help, I grew my piano business until the Great Recession of 2008. We had become a full piano restoration shop specializing in refinishing and refurbishing. My wife was tired of the paint stink (later on, I would admit that I was, too) and so we decided to let the business die and sold off many of the tools and supplies and I went back to just staying home. Being a stay-at-home dad was a little more technical at this point as we had four kids going in four different directions. In the dark and late hours of the night while kids were sleeping I stayed active as a composer, arranger and musician. I even won a few competitions including the top Award of Distinction for a hymn arrangement. I stayed active as a conductor through volunteer positions in the LDS faith until I was offered my first civic position as director of the Herriman Community Chorus. Shortly after I took on that position I was asked to join a group called Witness Music as their Chorus Master. I have served in many positions in that organization and now serve as the Creative Director and board member. We put on Rob Gardner’s production titled Lamb of God and I direct the 120 voice choir and a full symphony orchestra. It has been absolutely thrilling to be a part of this group. Through the many friendships I have made in Witness Music, other opportunities have presented themselves including my first paid conducting gig!
Several choir members of Witness Music work for a local charter school and insisted that I apply for the choir teacher position that was opening last year. I was reluctant to apply because I knew that the alternate licencing process would be a difficult and long road for the school and for me. However, out of over 100 applicants I was chosen as one of 20 who were interviewed. I thought that was pretty cool but then I was chosen as one of five to do a teaching demo. I was scheduled to do my demo in front of their largest class - their 80 student concert choir ranging from grades 8-11. To make the demo even more nerve-wracking, we were not given any music to prepare for rehearsal and when I got there, the music was just cut and pasted choral lines with no accompaniment. I had a successful rehearsal and many kids came up and thanked me afterwards. After this experience and, with my youngest starting kindergarten, my wife and I talked at length and decided that it was time to pursue this lifelong dream of mine to teach secondary music. I have been waiting to be here for a long time and I am beyond excited to start.