Spotlight on Deidre, Director of Programs
Where are you from, and can you briefly describe your journey that brought you to this point in your life?
I was born and raised in Oklahoma, which was rich in music education. I was in band and choir, and I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to become a music teacher. My family relocated to New York after I graduated from high school, and then I attended Manhattanville College where I received both my undergrad and grad degrees in music education. I worked in both public and private schools for 11 years and decided I wanted to give back more. Education Through Music came up on one of my searches, and I applied for a position. I worked at ETM in New York City for 4 years. The first two were as a field supervisor mentoring music teachers and the last two as an assistant program director overseeing mentors, teachers, and school programs.
How did you get started working with ETM/ETM-LA, and what inspired you to join?
I knew about the program due to working at ETM in New York. My husband’s job was relocating him to the West Coast, so I immediately reached out to ETM-LA. I wanted to continue with the mission that I was working on in New York, and I’m thankful they have allowed me to be part of the team.
Where is your favorite place that you’ve lived, and why?
I have liked each of the places I have lived for different reasons, but living in the Bronx was one of my favorites. It’s the time of my life when I got married, started a career, and started my family. While it was neat to live there, it was more about the memories with people that made it one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to building new memories here.
Have you ever had a music educator in your life that impacted you? If so, could you tell us a little bit about them, and how they may have influenced you?
I have two that were most influential in me deciding to become a music educator. My choir teacher, Mrs. Patty Ray, always saw potential in me and pushed me not only to sing, but to try different parts. I was able to sing in traditional and show choir due to her influence as well. She pushed me to do more than I thought I was capable of doing. I am a quiet person when first meeting someone, but after being in her class, I had the confidence to perform in front of large audiences and enjoy doing it. The other music teacher that had great influence on me was my band director, Mrs. Mary Runyan. I had the privilege of having her as my Junior High and High School band director. I chose to play the flute because she played the flute. I still remember going into the band room and seeing demonstrations of the instruments and hearing her play. I also had the opportunity to be a drum major for marching band in both Junior High and High School under her direction. This influenced me the most in becoming a music educator. It gave me a sense of responsibility to oversee other students, and it forced me to practice conducting patterns over and over to prepare for the various songs we would play for shows. Mrs. Runyan would also allow me to conduct at times when she needed to check on other things during concert season. This is where the joy of influencing the sounds in music really came to life for me. It was amazing to conduct peers and use your gestures to create the type of sound you wanted the audience to hear.
What do you think is the best part about working with Education Through Music-Los Angeles?
I think the mission is my favorite part of working here. It’s important in my life to see every child have the same opportunities that I took for granted receiving as a child. I also have to add that working at ETM-LA is like working with a big family that is all working towards the same goal. I’m just glad I get to be a small part of that bigger picture.