Email Mr. Mykeloff at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We teach students to be better people through music.”
That's the core of Aaron Mykeloff's philosophy of music education. It's an approach that's consistent with research results; studying and performing music promotes creativity, teamwork, listening and empathy. “Self-discipline, too, and an ability to see the beauty in things,” he added.
Mr. Mykeloff also believes that good musicians either have or develop patience, as well as the will to practice. “Diligence helps a musician succeed and perform from the heart,” he said.
A native of New Boston, Michigan, Mr. Mykeloff earned his Bachelor's in Music Education in 1997 and his Masters in Music Education in 2014. He became the Director of Bands at Adrian High School in 2018 after many years at Britton-Deerfield High School.
Mr. Mykeloff plays several instruments, including piano, flute, percussion and the hammered dulcimer. And he's been inspired by a wide range of musicians throughout his life, from Scott Ludwig - his band director while in school - to Mozart, Bach and the great American composer / conductor Aaron Copland. He also admires the work of Leonard Bernstein, John Philip Sousa, The Beatles, and Peter, Paul and Mary.
What's the most rewarding part of his job? “When the light bulb clicks on and a student gets it; when they figure out how to learn on their own,” he said.
“At Adrian, we have a strong music program. We're always striving to be the best in the county and provide our students with an outstanding experience.” But there's even more to it than that, says Mr. Mykeloff. “Being a member of the Maple band is not just about being in a great music program, it's about being in a great family.”
Email Mrs. Powers at email@example.com
Music has always been a part of Sheri Powers' life.
She took piano lessons as a young girl, and began playing the clarinet in sixth grade. “In high school marching band, I was in color guard as a freshman, played clarinet as a sophomore, played bass drum my junior year, and played in the front ensemble my senior year.”
She graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music Education, and in 2016, earned her Master's degree in Curriculum Instruction and Assessment from Marygrove College.
She didn't always know she wanted to be a teacher though. “It was during my senior year in high school, while sitting in band class, that I realized I wanted to teach. My best experiences, both in and out of school, always involved music,” she remembers.
“Music, specifically band, was energizing,” she said. “In band, I developed relationships with people I wouldn't have otherwise known. And performing music in an ensemble was powerful. It spoke to me in indescribable ways. I want to nurture those types of experiences in my students; to share the power of music with them so that it stays with them for a lifetime.”
Her most important musical influence? “My wonderful clarinet professor at EMU, Dr. Kimberly Cole Luevano. She's now at the University of North Texas. Dr. Cole had a unique balance of passion for music, combined with an infectious enthusiasm for teaching.”
“As a band teacher, I feel that the core of my job is to witness and strengthen the musical potential in each of my students. I believe each of them will find a personal connection and success with music. And I know that won't look the same in every student, because each student is unique.”
Mrs. Powers said there are many rewarding aspects of her job. “One is being present for that moment when a student masters a skill he didn't think he could accomplish. Or when a student plays a song for me that she learned on her own because she was so excited about it that she worked ahead or figured out the song by ear.”
Mrs. Powers has a thought for parents of music students. “As a middle school student, I wanted to quit playing in the band. But my mom told me I needed to stick with it through at least the end of my freshman year. After I started ninth grade, I never again considered dropping out of band. To think that I wouldn't have this career I love if I had left band as an eighth grader is mind boggling. If children still enjoy music, they should continue with it through at least the first year of high school.”
“This is a team effort,” says Mrs. Powers. “Every individual contributes to the success of the ensemble. Together, we make beautiful music.”
Email Ms. Wittenkeller at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Tenacity,” says Lorri Wittenkeller, is a trait that any successful musician needs. “It isn't easy to be good,” she adds. “All students can do what they set their minds to, just not always at the same time or in the same way.”
Ms. Wittenkeller displayed her tenacity early on by studying at Adrian College, Eastern Michigan University and Northeast Louisiana University. Her hard work paid off in the form of two degrees: a Bachelors of Music Education and a Master of Arts in Music Education.
Her career began by observing classes at Adrian schools in 1978, and then student teaching in 1980. Her first full-time job was with the Bastrop, Louisiana school system from 1980 to 1986. She's been directing Adrian orchestras all the years since.
Ms. Wittenkeller names her mom as her primary musical influence. “Music was always part of her life,” she says. “She was playing up until about three months before she died.”
She admires pretty much all musicians and composers, actually; anyone who “puts their music out there by writing or performing has a great influence on me.”
“I'm also inspired by creativity 'on the fly.' I once watched a documentary that featured Elton John creating a song in about 30 minutes for a project demonstrating recording technology from the 1920s. It was very cool.”
Ms. Wittenkeller plays violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar and piano. All that ability comes in handy when working to relate to her orchestra students. “I love watching them discover the joy of music making, whether that means performing, writing music, or just goofing around with their instruments.”
And what does she wish for her students? “The sense of accomplishment and the confidence that learning to play provides. Maturity and self-discipline, too. But also, just the pure enjoyment of it all.”
Email Mrs. Schenck at email@example.com
Name: Barbara Schenck
Hometown: Chesaning, Michigan
College Degrees: Bachelor in Music from Indiana Wesleyan University and Masters of Education from Siena Heights University
Instruments I play: Piano and all the musical percussion instruments.
Vocal range: About 3 octaves, but my sweet spot is 2nd soprano.
Started teaching at Adrian in 2000
Musical influences: My parents, siblings, husband and children, plus my church and Jerry Franks.
My dad, Leonard Strait, could play most instruments by ear. He was fantastic at the guitar and an outstanding low bass singer. My mom, Dorine, was a high soprano. I used to go with her to all choir rehearsals at Owosso College. I especially remember learning to sing Handel's Messiah with her and recognizing the beauty of the piece at age 4. I also appreciated the influence of our church and the music I learned to read and sing. My siblings all sang and played instruments. Being the fourth of five children, my older siblings would tell me to listen and sing "another harmony part." That really helped me learn to sing any part.
Jerry Franks, my professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, was inspirational. He had diabetes and went blind in his 30s. Before becoming completely blind, he experienced a few days of blindness that encouraged him to start memorizing more than 120 books on music technique. I was the vocal soloist in his group Dimensions in Brass all four years, and took private lessons from him on xylophone, tympani, chimes and vibraharp. He taught me more than music; he taught me life lessons. Even though he couldn't see the music, he could tell me every error I made musically, yet encourage my desire to become better. It was never about him, but always about his students.
Jerry was also a professional trumpet player. He had men and women from all over the U.S. fly in for lessons. We would be in awe of these musicians. Yet, he never acted like a big shot. He was humble and simply amazing. He created the teeth bonding for brass players. He was asked to be the President's Band leader, but turned it down to continue teaching us. He taught us by his actions, as well as his ability. He was truly a teacher, mentor and friend.
My husband, Jim Schenck, grew up in Indianapolis and attended a school that focused on jazz. I learned about jazz singing from Jim. He is pretty awesome and a State Marching Band Champ. He plays a great saxophone and we love singing together.
I had the privilege of teaching my children Kate, Kelsey and Wesley while they were students at Adrian. They taught me so much about how to be a loving teacher, while still pushing them to excellence. The greatest reward is when your students exceed their teacher, and I believe my own children have excelled beyond my ability. That makes me proud! My girls even married musicians!
How would you sum up your teaching philosophy?
I love music - especially singing - but I don't just teach students music. Every piece of literature we sing offers life lessons. The words, the messages or implied thoughts are as important as the notes and rhythms. Taking a piece of music they have never heard and crafting it into the best performance it can be is exciting. To watch every "a-ha" moment of clarity on their faces is priceless. To hear them sing something correctly and know they understand how to achieve that correct sound is wonderful. Singing in choir is the perfect example of teamwork. They must all listen and work together for blend to create a masterpiece. They must think all the time, and that's difficult when life is happening. So, my philosophy is to teach every student right where they are on every day of the week, and encourage them to be their best in the midst of daily life.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
It's seeing a student who was shy or afraid take a chance and step out to perform, even if that happens a few years after they leave my classroom.
It's listening to my students sing their final song of the year and know they have learned more than just notes and rhythms; they've learned that they've had a teacher who cares for them and desires to see them reach their potential. To see the pure joy on their faces as they complete a year and are proud of their accomplishments - that brings me great joy!
Which traits / skills should a good musician have or try to develop?
Stick-to-it-iveness! That's a word I've used a lot to encourage young musicians in their journey. Learning to be a good performer takes daily work. You cannot excel by practicing just a few days a week. You must have a passion that drives you to be your best.
I never get tired of a song; I always find something else that can be improved - even after performing it. Analyzing is the best practice of a musician. Analyze and keep working to improve it. The process is never done. That's the beauty of always trying to be better.
What is the non-musical benefit of singing that you see most often in students?
Any performance involves risk. Students involved in the arts take risks every day. It's especially difficult for the young learner. Fear either rules them or they learn to combat their fear and learn to overcome.
Life is full of challenges, but if we can help students learn lessons in music and then apply them to life, they will gain strength of character, discipline to finish tasks, and a commitment to always try those challenging feats in life.