This month, we are celebrating music educators in Houston and beyond for all they do to foster the love of music in their students. This year more than ever, teachers have had to overcome challenges to innovate and inspire students, and we’re proud to highlight their achievements during the Spec’s Charitable Foundation Salute to Educators concert on March 20, led by Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke.
For Rian Craypo, principal bassoon, her music education was critical in fostering her lifelong love of music and helping her get to where she is today—performing alongside her colleagues here at the Symphony. We talked with Rian about the importance of music education and the lifelong bonds she formed with her teachers.
Music educators are some of the few adults that maintain a close relationship with a child through their entire journey at a particular campus, and sometimes between campuses. That familiar relationship is important in a lot of ways and band directors are often mentors beyond the music. Analog human connection is so incredibly important in our lives, and aside from my parents and my extremely patient bus driver, my music teachers were the only adult continuity from year to year.
I remember sitting in my first formal music class in the fourth grade, my ankles hooked around the front legs of the chair, sitting bolt upright, and trying to memorize the 50 State Song. Ms. Homerstedt accompanied the class on the piano and I looked forward to that class with so much excitement. I already had constant exposure to music at home as my parents were amateur musicians—playing guitar and piano and singing—and listened to a lot of different genres of music, but I was thrilled to be introduced to a more structured way of learning. Although my mom tried to teach me piano (sorry, Mom!) and there were various instruments available to me at my house, I didn’t realize how much I was craving a different kind of exposure to music. I knew I loved music already, as my brain was happiest listening to instrumental music over and over and over, and I was ready to be a part of it. When middle school started and we were able to choose an instrument, the band director patiently answered all my questions and over the next several years allowed me to switch from instrument to instrument as I found my perfect match.
I had three or four band directors and private lesson teachers through my middle and high school years, and all rewarded my obvious and growing interest by arranging extra opportunities and offering more of their time. We already spent a lot of time together in—before and after-school marching practices, football games, pep rallies, after school concerts, private lessons, UIL competitions, auditions for regional and state bands, and October (an entire month dedicated to marching band competitions)—but they also let me know about chamber and orchestra opportunities in Austin, TX as these were simply not available in our small town. Music was the framework around which I was structuring my life and they were there for every bit of it. Seeing their obvious passion and love for their job convinced me that this was the job for me.
I attended the University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate degree, studied abroad for a year while I was there, then went to Rice University for my master’s. My primary instrument teachers were now supplemented by conductors, composers, theorists, and musicologists, all sharing their love of learning and music and life. The apprenticeship-style training program builds extremely tight bonds between students and teachers beyond the duration of a degree program and I am grateful for all my teachers’ continued presence in my life (even though along the way I switched from Music Education to Performance!). When I auditioned for the Houston Symphony, I played the audition list for Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Jensen, and Mr. Kamins in preparation. I see all but Ms. Templin throughout each season at performances and recitals, and we keep up with the details of our families and latest exciting projects.
Watching beloved teachers embody a career they loved made those jobs real and achievable, and the skills each of my teachers instilled made my current life possible. I have a job I love and enjoy, and I would not be here without the ongoing contributions of the music educators in my life. My story is far from unique—I imagine all of my colleagues, and a large portion of our audience, will have their own version to tell. Cheers to the music educators in our lives! I hope to read about some of them soon.
Teachers, we want to hear from you! We know that you’ve been working hard during the pandemic and we want to celebrate your accomplishments. Share your success stories with us by March 20 using this form and we’ll feature your photos and videos on our website and social media.
The Houston Symphony presents the annual Spec’s Charitable Foundation Salute to Educators concert on March 20, during Musical Storytellers: Winds of the Houston Symphony, led by Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke.