Sean Goheen (Host) 00:00:01
Greeting scholars and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
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Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar Alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar Alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rang the gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
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Sean 00:00:55 Julie Florin class of 1987 teaches theater and chorus at Greenville High School Academy in Greenville, South Carolina. She also works with local theaters and plays Oregon at churches in the upstate. Julie is a trained pianist and organist and has a rich career teaching at the K-12 level and serving as musical director for countless shows at the K-12 collegiate and community theater levels. Julie joins the show to talk about her experiences and share her advice as a music teacher and lifelong learner. She also shares advice for involvement in theater after college from her roles as a musical director, as well as from her perspective as a piano teacher, church organized touring performer in the War Bonds Show and Penn State Donor. This episode will be of interest to any scholar who enjoys music or theater and will be especially valuable to scholars intending to pursue a career or continued involvement for personal fulfillment in any of these disciplines. Her full bio and a detailed breakdown of topics discussed are available in the show notes on your podcast app. And with that, let's dive into our conversation with Julie, following the gong.
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Joining me here today on the show is Music and Drama educator, Julie Florin. Julie, thank you so much for speaking with us today. Thanks.
Julie 00:02:05 Glad I could be here.
Sean 00:02:06 Very glad to have you on. And I always like to start with, uh, kind of a simple question. Help us set the stage for your story, pun intended here. How did you first come to Penn State and what was then the University Scholars Program? Obviously now the Schreyer Honors College.
Julie 00:02:21 Well, I grew up in state college and we had a program at the high school where you could go half a day at the high school and focus on what you wanted to focus on in the afternoon. And I decided to take some music classes at Penn State and some general ones. I got to take the history of fascism and Nazism, that famous course as a high school senior, which was, um, an amazing experience. But I was in gifted and talented in high school and being in the arts, I didn't fit into the regular honors classes necessarily that were offered. So I had to kind of make my classes anyway, or develop a chance to work with a mentor at the high school, or in this case go to Penn State. So then I found out about the honors program and wanted to get, be a part of that because it seemed to offer the same opportunities.
Julie 00:03:11 I actually had something interesting because I was doing everything musically and everything at, at high school, and I took my SATs, but I had to work the night before and I closed at like 2:00 AM which you know, you shouldn't do as a high school student. And so I've slept through a math portion of the s A t and then part of an English one, but I was able to catch up on that one and I came out with an 1100 on my S A t, which was not enough to get me into the University Scholars Program as a freshman. So, and for
Sean 00:03:42 Reference right, the this was in the era when it was the 1600 that correct? Yes. Many of us might have had, I know our current students, it's a different scoring system now.
Julie 00:03:49 Yes, yes. Uh, 1600. So it was 1100 and wasn't enough to get in, so I had to prove myself in my first semester of Penn State and be able to get back into the program. So yes, I went in my first year, but I had to get in my second semester of my first year because I slept through and I didn't wanna pay to take the s a t again, so I'd, I was like, I'd rather work and prove myself that way than take the test <laugh>.
Sean 00:04:13 Well, if you're listening, you know, I think obviously Julie, you graduated with honors and you've had a very great career, so it's okay to make mistakes. I think that's a quick takeaway away from this, you know? Yeah, yeah. Um, so appreciate you sharing that. Now, you said you were all involved in the arts and, and everything in high school and, and being a townie here in State College. I have to ask, which came first, the interest in education and then arts, or was it arts and then you wanted to be a teacher based on that interest? Walk us through your, your thought process there.
Julie 00:04:40 I was always involved in the arts, but I was also involved in the, in sports. And so I wanted to be a, uh, lady Lion basketball player and concentrated on that until, uh, ninth grade. I was played varsity at State High as a freshman, and I actually got rheumatoid arthritis at age 16 and was in unable to use my right hand, which I wrote with for my junior year. So during that time, and I was in the honors program at the high school, or the gifted and talented, as they say, I had to kind of make a turn from, I was gonna go to Penn State and be a basketball player and do something, and I'm not sure what, I'm not sure what I wanted to do right then, but that really made me think about what I wanted to do. And I was like, well, I like history and I like, you know, obviously like, uh, music.
Julie 00:05:28 So, and I just had great teachers and I think that's just what made me say education. I didn't wanna be concert pianist, I didn't want to be on stage necessarily. I always liked helping others. And I was in the musical at high school, but I was in the pit because I played the piano and I could play the scores. And my senior year I wanted to be on stage and I was like, I can finally, it's fiddler on the roof, lots of girls roles I wanna try out. I tried out and the director came down and he said, um, uh, we really need you in the pit, so, and I said, well, I wanna be on stage. He said, well, we'll make it worth your while. I'll make you assistant music director. So another opportunity opened by a mentor. Right. So he had me teaching my peers, I taught them the music, and I think that really set me on my course for being a music teacher and someone doing musical direction in theater and things like that, that opportunity, cuz he needed me in the pit, but I took it and went,
Sean 00:06:23 Well, I'm glad that you looked at that as, pardon in this, this is gonna be a terrible pun, but I'm glad you looked at that as a sunrise and not a sunset. Uhhuh <laugh>, uh, with that experience. Yes. Uh, and like you said, it's straight to take advantage of those opportunities that men when mentors open doors for you.
Julie 00:06:37 I was gonna say, as part of that classes that I took at Penn State, I was fighting through the arthritis in my hands at this time, and they started me on organ at Penn State with June Miller. And I'd never played the organ before. I was interested in it, but I'd never played it. And I found out that I could play longer, I could practice longer without pain on the organ than I could on the piano. And, um, again, she was a great mentor and I was like, oh, I'd like to continue studying with her and, and said, okay, I'll do music ed coral, but I want to learn the organ too. And then that came from, you know, the rheumatoid arthritis making me make choices on what I could do, what I couldn't do, what I wanted to do. So,
Sean 00:07:19 So for somebody who can't play any instruments, what is the, the differentiating factor there between the piano and the organ that made that one? I'm presuming a different experience playing with the arthritis piano
Julie 00:07:30 Is, is actually also a percussion instrument because it is, um, weighted keys that you have to physically hit at different, uh, weights, you know, hard or soft. The organ, you press the key and whether you hit it hard or soft, it doesn't really make a difference. And the minute you, the second you let go of the key, you lose the sound because it shuts off the air to that pipe. And so you have to sustain. And so your hand, your fingers stay on the keys and you learn to move them around and hold the note and substitute a finger onto this one so you can move down there and play a note. And so it, it became kind of a stretchy thing for my hand instead of a percussive thing that hurt my wrist. So it, it was very much a weighted thing, but yeah, I could just play for hours because it didn't hurt. And my doctor actually said it was my physical therapy. He didn't give me any physical therapy because that became my physical therapy.
Sean 00:08:25 That is incredible. And I just learned something. So you listening, I hope just took something from that too. Both the literal difference there, but also like, you know, overcoming and finding different opportunities there. So that's pretty incredible. Yeah. Yeah. And kind of going back, you had said about opening doors and, and you said one of the things about being a scholar was that, you know, you had all these experiences and you know, obviously things are a little bit different, uh, from the eighties and nineties than they are today. Right. But, you know, there's that core, we still have that core thing. A lot of the, the resources have expanded over time, but can you talk about what sorts of experiences you had as a scholar that, you know, you said you invested in, into being a scholar, so what did you get out of it?
Julie 00:09:05 The chance to mold my own path in my education at Penn State, yes, I was in music education, but the program allowed me to either take a, a level of a course that I wanted to take, or it gave me the chance to say, okay, I want to go do this. I wanna see what it's actually like in the classroom now, and not find out at the last second. And so then they would pair me with a teacher at the university and, and they would say, okay, let's, let's hook you up with this in, in this area, whether it was music or, uh, the education. They paired me up with, um, people outside of the university, um, that came in that made it part of a class for me. But they pulled from the community and the re the rich resources in the state college area, which connected me with a community as a college student in a wonderful way. So I wasn't isolated at Penn State at i, I mean, it truly opened it up doors in so many ways, but they just really allowed me, the program said, okay, what do you want? What do you want to do? How, how can we do it together? And that was something that was so wonderful about that program for me.
Sean 00:10:16 And I think that's a common thread even to today, a unifying experience. Whether you are a scholar in your time or for a current student, you know, if you have ideas or you're on the fence about something, come talk to us. We can help. We can't guarantee everything, but we can certainly help open a lot of doors. Uh, I think there's misconception that being a scholar makes anything possible. There are limitations, but, uh, those limitations are a lot less than for other students. So, you know, come talk to us. We can, we can try and help you. Yeah,
Julie 00:10:42 I mean, uh, what I've seen from, you know, following the path of the scholars program into, uh, the honors college, is that just the wealth of the students ideas and, and what they're able to do and go places and do and just things that they're diving into. I'm just like, wow, that's so cool. Just, you know, following that is, has been fun for me as an alumni of the program.
Sean 00:11:07 I completely agree. As the person who works with the whole <laugh> of the alumni, I love it. I love it. Now, one of those unifying things as well that every one of our alumni has done, every student is working on is the thesis. So Julie, can you tell us about yours? What inspired you and, you know, what did you take from it into your career as an educator?
Julie 00:11:27 So, yes, back in the eighties, eighties and nineties, um, coral education was focused on theor music. And I didn't learn necessarily how to sing. And, you know, it was more focused on learning the music and singing the music as, as a, as a group. But I didn't know that. I, I didn't feel that I knew how to sing as a, as a vocalist to the best of the, of my abilities. And so in the teaching that I got to do ahead of my student teaching, so that'd be ahead of my thesis, I was like, I couldn't find resources for vocal exercises in the school system. And I was like, we need vocalizes, you know, vocal exercises for the high school coral groups that they can teach them proper singing posture, things that are good for your, you know, vow production as an individual in, in addition to the choir.
Julie 00:12:19 So you could use them as warmups. And today, now that's a huge, you know, that's in every choir program you do vocal exercises and you learn that, but it, that wasn't the case when I was going through and I just saw a need for it. So my was to do research and find out vocal exercises that would do that. And so researching into all different vocal experts in other universities, including ours, and picking and pulling the ones, my thesis, I was almost like a workbook because I had the exercises in there. So that's what it was. It was basically a coral vocalese workbook, in essence with the research of course, behind it that you had to do
Sean 00:13:00 That is awesome. So like, if you're listening and you were in chorus in high school, there's a good chance like Julie helped craft your education, it sounds like,
Julie 00:13:09 I guess in a way, you know, it could be. It's out there Now. I have a funny story on how it got out there though, finishing that thesis. Okay, so again, eighties and nineties computers. Yes. We had a desktop computer and I had a, um, it's a dot matrix printer Okay. Where the paper has punched tolls that have to ride on the roll thing to, to go through. And you had the big, big old floppy disk that you saved your work on. And so I was finishing up my thesis and I had done the draft and worked with my advisor and he gave me the feedback and I made the changes. And then, you know, like any good student, I was putting it to the last minute to get it printed out before it was due. So I went to print it out and the paper got off the roll wrong, and so it like froze mid print.
Julie 00:13:54 And when I went to, you know, take it out of the printer and all that, I found that I had not saved my revisions. And so I'm calling my advisor in a panic. Oh, oh, what do I do? And, and he kind of, you know, talked me through what we remembered from what we revised and I basically, I had to retype it again, so now it's like, it's midnight or so, and God bless my advisor for being, being awaken helping me through that. So I stood over that dot matrix printer, making that paper feed through page by page, but I still had to, because we didn't have the programs to put the written music into a document. So I had to hand write it out on manuscript paper, music, manuscript paper, cut those out, tape them onto the printed out thesis, and then go get it copied Kinko's copies 3:00 AM I am getting it copied. So I finished at 4:00 AM I had never pulled an all-nighter at Penn State, so I made sure I got to sleep for two hours and then woke up so I could turn my thesis in on time. <laugh>, that was a crazy night. If there
Sean 00:15:01 Is ever a night to stay up late, it is, it is getting the thesis done. So, yes. You know, I think
Julie 00:15:07 Done. Now
Sean 00:15:08 We all have some kind of version of that that is, you know, I think a takeaway for any students listening is like, save, save it <laugh>, save it OneDrive, and on Google Docs get a flash drive. Yeah. You know, couple versions, you know, save that, save that.
Julie 00:15:23 Yes. But, you know, the experience of just doing the thesis is such a wonderful thing that to do as an undergraduate that, that's amazing to me that I got to do that as an undergraduate.
Sean 00:15:34 Well actually that tees up a question I had. I'm gonna skip one question and come back to it. And, you know, you've shared your CV with me in advance, Julie, and you've earned quite a few advanced degrees certificates. And obviously if you know anything about teaching, you know, there's a, a requirement to continue educating yourself through continuing ed cert certifications. But how did you decide on which areas you wanted to focus and where to attend? You know, I was looking at some of the schools you have an H B C U on Yes. That you attended. How did you go about picking these places? Just walk us through your thought process for continuing education and work-life balance and, and all these good things that, you know, you went on to do after your time here at Penn State. So
Julie 00:16:16 I, I got to do a senior recital on Oregon at Penn State along with my honors thesis. And I went out to Columbus, Ohio to teach my first year teaching, got a music ed job and they forgot they hired me. So I had moved out to Columbus, Ohio, and I had the contract, but they forgot they hired me. So I didn't have a position. And they ended up throwing me into two middle schools. And I dated my husband. He was down in DC area and we had met right, right before I graduated at State College, cuz he used to be in State College. So we dated long distance that year and he proposed and we got married and moved down to the DC area. And so I got a job in Prince William County schools teaching middle school chorus, and I, you have to take professional development, so many courses.
Julie 00:17:02 And so I've heard of a course in church music, which would be with Oregon, and it counted because it was music, it counted for the professional development. And it was at Shenandoah University and it was three summers of work there. And it was mainly the coursework. It wasn't really organ playing as much. It was, it was how to become multi-denominational and how you could do church service in any sort of denomination. We, we even did a Moravian Love feast. We did Jewish services. So we, we learned quite a lot there. And then I moved, so that was my certificate in church music at Shenandoah. Loved that experience. And then we moved down to Raleigh, North Carolina. And I got another coral job at a, at a high school. Now and again, you have to take courses. Well, I did my first choir concert there. And as there was no one to do the lights and there was no one to do the sound.
Julie 00:17:57 And I said, well, you know, is there no class here to, to, to do that? I said, no, you have to get the district guy. He's, he does all the schools in the district. You have to schedule 'em for your concert. Oh, that's crazy. I may as well learn myself how to run these microphones and things. So said, okay. I went to my principal and said, all right, I'm gonna be half step ahead of my students, but it's a need and I, there's an interest. Can I teach a technical theater class? I was like, oh yeah, that sounds cool. So I had a great time with the students, we were kind of learning together and then they changed the laws in, in North Carolina and they said, you can't teach anything out of your certification Now, it used to be you could teach one class out of your certification.
Julie 00:18:36 Well now you can't. So he said, you know, what do you wanna do? I said, well, I may as well go back to school and get a degree in in theater. Okay, all right. Well I was working, so I was like, okay, what are the schools that are available to me? And I was in Raleigh, so I had the choice of East Carolina. I had the choice of UNC Charlotte or Appalachian State, or North Carolina Central University, which is a historically black university in Durham. They had just desegregated the HBCUs. This would be the second year that they had desegregated. So I went in as very much a minority. I had already completed my Master's of music because that was before I needed the theater stuff. I was just doing the chor stuff. So I took the classes there and got the, basically the rest of what I started at Shenandoah.
Julie 00:19:22 So I knew East Carolina, but I didn't wanna do the drive again. The H B C U was, oh, oh, it's a great experience. Theater department there was very desegregated and diverse and they worked with me, like Scholars program had worked with me. They said, oh, here's this class, but you teach, so why don't you do this with your students at your class instead of sitting in a classroom and, and taking the class this way, you know, yes you have to do the bookwork, but why don't you get the experience with the actual students? So it's funny that they worked the same way. So yeah, I went to an H B C U and then after that, that voice thing that was my honors thesis kept on coming back as a musical director in community theater. I had to help people who were not trained in singing be able to sing for stage.
Julie 00:20:06 And I heard of a program at Shenandoah, uh, somatic Voice Work, and they had summer programs, certification programs. And so I was like, well I loved going to Shenandoah. I'll go back up there for, you know, classes up there. And so I'm certified in the Somatic Voice work and three levels there. And then I was like, what do I do now? I have all these degrees. What's next? It's a doctorate. But I didn't, I didn't know what I wanted to get my doctorate in because I liked theater, I liked music, I liked church music. And so I haven't gotten my doctorate because I don't know what I wanna dive that deep into. So that's where kind of the degrees have ended.
Sean 00:20:42 So, you know, you've been at, you said Shenandoah, you've been at ecu, you've been at North Carolina Central in Durham. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yep. And you know, you've talked some of these were summer only designed for teachers, some are in the evening, you know, is there a difference? What, any insights on those? Cuz obviously you can't take day classes, you're a teacher, right? You are teaching classes whether you're, you know, wherever you are in the K-12 system. What kind of, and obviously now we have things like World Campus too for, you know, maybe for literacy and curriculum and those kind of things. What you're doing probably need to be in person or you know, live kind of things. But there's so many different options. What did you enjoy? What are, what were areas of that style that, you know, you found frustrating and, and could be helpful for students who are thinking about doing any kind of degree on top of working
Julie 00:21:29 The master's program, I had to go after school. I had to drive an hour and a half to ECU on Mondays and Fridays. And then I had to do basically live there in the summer for six weeks. But they took my Shenandoah credit, so I didn't have as much work to do towards the masters. Cause I already had the certificate that, that met all that bookwork stuff. So I was doing organ lessons and theory in the summer and other, you know, classes that I had to be in the classroom for in the summer. And then basically looking at the organ class where you all the organ majors would come together and, and learn. And then the individual lessons were during oh, the weekdays and that, yeah, that was, that was tiresome. There was a hardy's that knew me really well because that was my midway stop on the drive and I had to get my caffeine to make it there right after school.
Julie 00:22:20 So, um, I didn't mind the summers. Um, I could, because it took me back to being a student on campus because I was there the whole time and I, I enjoyed that. So if you liked being a student and liked being on campus, find a program that offers that come summer immersion that you could do the after school night if you don't have a drive, it's doable to do classes, you know, after school or in the evening, but add the drive on and that might get a little bit rough, but yeah, if you, if you like being a student, if and the world campus, if you, you know, if you like doing the work but don't wanna sit in the classroom, then yeah, that's a great option now.
Sean 00:22:56 Absolutely. I, I did my first one, uh, in person in Greensboro, so not terribly far from Oh yeah. Where you were in Raleigh and, you know, went through that. And I'm currently in World Campus doing one which is very asynchronous. So lots of different options out there. So, you know, figure out what you enjoy. Like you said Julie, I think that's great advice. Yeah. Do you like the in-person thing? Are you more content? Are you a relational person? Do you not mind asynchronous or you know, do you have heavy travel in your work? You know? Yes. Many of our students go into consulting and engineering. So lots of things to consider there. So there's probably an option for you though, if you want to continue learning regardless of what field you're in. Yes. And
Julie 00:23:31 It's interesting because as you're teaching while you're doing it, it means a lot to the students too that you're teaching to know that you are continuing your education too. I think they look at you a little bit differently. Like, oh, they're learning too. You know, they're, they're, they're a student too and they just look at you a little bit different when you say that you're doing that. Yeah.
Sean 00:23:50 A bit of a, a walk in the walk kind of thing. Yeah.
Julie 00:23:52 Mm-hmm.
Sean 00:23:53 <affirmative>. Well we have homework, but I guess she also has homework too. Yeah. So I guess it's okay. <laugh>. Yeah, <laugh>. Now you, I wanna go back for just a minute. You, you know, you shared, you kind of went to Columbus and they weren't ready for you mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then, you know, you kinda worked from Virginia through North Carolina and now you're in South Carolina. So just thinking back on those first teaching roles, what advice do you have for somebody mo particularly in teaching, but j even just generally, like thinking about that first job out of school, how they can be successful.
Julie 00:24:23 That first job. I'll tell you in Columbus, the thing that saved me was a fellow teacher and the collaboration with that fellow teacher. So, you know, I was kind of, I was hanging out to drive by myself. I had a class that they assigned you as a first year teacher in Columbus. They assigned you a mentor who would come in and even teach a class if you were having problems. And they would give you advice, they'd watch you and, and then they would teach it and say, you know, did you see how this worked? Did this work? And she came in and she's like, just do whatever you can do to survive <laugh>. I'm like, oh dear. But part of my placement, I was in two, two schools by the time they finally found a placement for me. And that teacher at the second school, we team taught.
Julie 00:25:10 And that made a huge difference, a collaboration and we bounced ideas off of each other. Um, and as a first year teacher, that was incredible for me. They, they also put me at, before they placed me, finally I was with a high school choral director and she kind of made me her assistant director unless I had to go substitute for any other music absence in the district. It was kind of weird there for, for a while until they placed me. But it was that co the collaboration with her, the collaboration with the other teacher when I went down to Virginia, wonderful collaboration with a fellow Penn Stater who top band Bill Jacoby top band. And, and you know, we hit it off cuz we were Penn Stater. So that was wonderful. But we, we did a lot together and we, we even gave a recital as a faculty. But yeah, just the collaboration with other teachers is so important. Doesn't matter what year it is. Um, just always being able to collaborate with other teachers and bouncing ideas off of each other, crying on each other's shoulders, um, any of that. It's, it's really the teachers that make the difference.
Sean 00:26:14 That is awesome that you can continue to lean on them even as a teacher. Yes. Like leaning on the more seasoned ones. And you know, you brought up an interesting point that you kind of have been, you know, you might be in two different schools in the same district. You might be asked to substitute around and thinking about, you know, arts teachers, music teachers, even like engineering and, and some things like that that some schools have where, you know, you kind of float. What is, how is that different and how do you prepare for a teaching role like that where maybe you don't have a home base but you serve multiple schools in a district or even multiple districts as like a freelance teacher. How's
Julie 00:26:49 It different? It's not that different in the sense of how you prepare for what you're teaching. The main difference is that it's harder to make a connection to students cuz they don't feel that your classroom is a home for them. And in the arts, so many students find their family a place that they belong and tend to want to eat lunch in your classroom and, and be with you, you know, whenever they can because they're like, this is my family. And so when you're floating it's, it's hard to harder to make those connections. You have to work harder as a teacher for them to feel that they can come to you, that they can access you. Certainly in today's technology age, it's much easier for them to access you than when I started. But yeah, you have to be very intentional about the relationships with the students and with the teachers because you're using some other teacher's room and you have to be very respectful of that.
Sean 00:27:44 That is really good insight. And another thing I would love to hear your perspectives on, Julie, going back to your thesis topic, you kind of helped get a, uh, a change going in the coral education with the different, I, I'm not even gonna pretend to totally understand it, but for music people, I'm sure you did, but what kind of changes have you seen in the, don't wanna get into like funding of arts education and that, you know, that's a, a rabbit hole, but like actually in the classroom and the pedagogy. Like how have you seen that change over your career in, in terms of the students and the teaching style technology? What have you seen that's different from when you first got into the classroom?
Julie 00:28:20 There is a lot more of the, um, physical kinesthetic part and the social emotional aspects of student learning that have come in, in the arts. We were kind of already and always doing that. So yes, we're more, again, intentional on incorporating that now as an arts teacher. But what we do has now gone into other areas of, of teaching. So for instance, we have now a social-emotional learning modules that we have to do two times a month with an advisory class at the school. So kids that you don't necessarily have in class every day and a lot of the things that you do, I'm like, oh well that's a, that's a theater game that we do. That's a, that's a, you know, a theater thing that we do to make a ensemble working, which is building relationships in social-emotional learning and being empathetic and all those things that, you know, theater and, and, and singing and singing next to someone.
Julie 00:29:18 Empathy of hearing that voice next to you and working with them to blend all those things that we were already doing in music and, and the arts now have gone into the rest of education and that's, that's a huge thing that I've, I've seen. It's like, okay, I'm comfortable with that. I know how to do that. You know, a lot of education programs come and go. The, there was one that I did when I started in Virginia and then all of a sudden when I was in North Carolina, Eric came around again, they're like, it's a new great thing. I'm like, no it isn't. We already did this. Oh. But you know, sometimes those programs, I'm like, yeah, well I've seen some come and go. But it's interesting now, especially after Covid and the need for connection and to teach students how to connect again, that the arts come right in on it. We're right there, we've been doing it, but you know, we'll help others and we'll keep doing it ourselves.
Sean 00:30:09 Absolutely. And I mentioned before we started, like I was on stage crew in high school, so that was like, I had an opportunity cuz like as a freshman I got like essentially, Hey, you're the scrub, you get to go backstage, you have to work your way up to the technical stuff. And then by the time I could have, I chose to stay backstage because that was where the community, a lot of my friends were in the shows or they played in the orchestra and like, that's how I got to hang out with them. I was like, I don't wanna be isolated up in the light booth. <laugh>. Yes. You know, and so I, that's a, a really great thing there with that community. And kind of a question I wanted to ask you, uh, Julie, maybe this is a dumb question, but is there any differences between kind of the classroom, what programs where it's like, you know, this is a class, it's graded in just ones that are, it's a club, this is just something they do for fun. Is there a different approach to that mindset as a teacher, an advisor? Any, any insight on that?
Julie 00:30:59 Um, oh yes. The, the you, I mean the, the classroom you're, you're following standards. You are teaching specific lesson plans and the club puts on the productions. So you're more production oriented for those. We still try to do some of the warmups that we do in the, in the class and the connection things to build the ensemble for the stage. But yeah, we're very much more production oriented in the afterschool groups as opposed to teaching, trying to teach them ensemble in the basic classes. But you know, some students are there just because they have to have an elective and don't really care. I had, huh? I had one semester, no, it was a year. Oh yeah, it was a year. I had one student that was put in chorus that did not wanna sing and he sat in that front row the whole year, his arms crossed and did not open his mouth. Now he would do any of the written work and he was very smart musically, but he would not open his mouth to sing. And you know, so you have to deal with that in the classroom. You have to cater to everyone. Not everyone wants to sing or wants to be in theater. They were placed there and after school you're, you're pulling in kids who wanna be there or they're friends there, so they wanna be there and they're like, oh this is kind of cool. So yeah, that's a different mindset. Yeah. That's
Sean 00:32:13 Interesting. You know, thinking about just somebody gets placed in this class and like <laugh>, how do you deal with that? You know, is there any strategies that, for a future teacher or somebody student teaching right now who encounters that? Like how did you work with that student to get them through? You know, you said they did the written stuff. So how did you, how do you approach a student like that who maybe doesn't want to be there at,
Julie 00:32:33 At some point I had to, when we're singing, I had to in a, almost in a way ignore him. I mean, I would make eye contact with him. It's not ignoring him like that, but there's, there's point where you can't push anymore. And so you kind of say, okay, you do this work and I'll make this written while everyone else is singing because if I concentrate too much on him not singing, it pulls from the students who want to sing. And then they're like, why did you take so much time from me? You know, we could have been singing, it was still getting him to do the work and do the learning, but he wasn't doing the singing. Now I didn't give him, you know, credit for participating for non-participation. So if it was a participation grade, he didn't get it unless he had an alternate assignment.
Julie 00:33:14 And in so many classes now we've got many students who are non-English speaking and they need an elective. And so they're in their English as a second language classes and, and help, but then they're put into the electives and they're like, oh yeah, whatever, do whatever you can with them. And it's, it's, it's difficult. Luckily theater is a lot of pantomime and we communicate that way and um, I Google, Google translated as a help, but I try to involve them so that, you know, as best I can, some things I say do it in Spanish, you know, and if you can make us understand what you're doing through your actions, then you've done the assignment. You know, it doesn't have to be in English. So you, you learn to do a lot of adaptation to meet those students that either don't wanna do it or have something that is keeping them from doing the project as you want them to do in English, say whether it's disabilities or um, language acquisition. I think
Sean 00:34:09 That's hopefully really helpful for anybody who's teaching. And, and I'm sure there's other roles too where that could be of help thinking customer service roles and sales and other things too. If you happen to be listening. And speaking of jobs Jewel, you've had many students come through your classroom, through your stage over the years. What advice do you give to your students about leveraging their music, their band, their chorus, their orchestra, their theater production experiences in college, in internships and jobs,
Julie 00:34:37 We usually talk about their communication skills that they have learned, whether it's theater or chorus, like I said, the collaboration that a choir has to do cause it's own sort of communication skills as same as theater. You're making yourself communicate through your acting or through your light design, through your set design. You're still communicating. You're still trying to get an idea across to people. And I tell them school I'm at now is a law, a law magnet and business magnet. And I was like, theater is a great class for you because you are learning skills in, in leadership, in collaboration, in talking in front of people, public speaking, you know, all of these are great for your law and your business because I still work so much in the community in the afternoons, evenings, I'm always trying to work and network my students into opportunities so that they can see that the opportunities are out there and what they like to do or what they're studying to do can go beyond the bounds of the school walls and go out into the community and it's like, oh well then they know me. Okay that might help me if I go to the college or you know, if I wanna get that job. That person has already experienced me, they've seen me on stage and now I want to intern as arts management, uh, front of the house type of things. But I've been on the stage so I have that edge in for an internship.
Sean 00:36:00 That is great. And I think particularly for anybody in business, in law in these areas, theater is pretty good training ground, right?
Julie 00:36:07 Yes, yes. Very much so.
Sean 00:36:09 Speaking of theater, I want to pivot now, you know, we talked about nine to three whatever your kind of day Yeah. As a teacher. And I want to pivot now to the rest of your day and your weekends here cuz you live a whole other life. Once the school bell rains for the day and obviously there's grading and, and all that stuff. We'll we'll skip past that <laugh>, but you do a lot in the theater space. Um, you do K-12 Collegiate community theater, you shared and you also shared previously with me, you do onstage, offstage backstage. And you even said even under the stage Yes. Um, with the orchestra. Yeah. You said you primarily work as a musical director, but can you talk about the different kind of roles that go into, especially the kind of these community theater productions and for students who want to maintain that theater experience either in college or in community once they graduate and go off to New York or to Charleston or Los Angeles or wherever in between how they do that and what these kind of roles that they could look for are.
Julie 00:37:06 Wow. Community theaters offer so many opportunities to students in college. When I was working with NC State University, uh, worked as music director for them, freelance for 15 years, did their musicals. And so I would work with students and they had, um, their theater honors fraternity, a p o is a service fraternity basically. And I coordinated with them because I knew them and I said, Hey, come to my school and, and once a month you guys teach, you guys leave my drama club, you get to choose what you wanna do. And so it became a service project for them to do that. And it was great connection. And I saw a lot of those students then in community theater or I'd say to them, Hey, this show needs a lighting person. I know you do lighting here at the university, so you know, would you be able to do this? It'd be a great opportunity to kind of branch out on your own and get a feel for what the community theater when you're not dealing with majors and student schedules. But you know, people who come in with a passion because they wanna do it, it's on their free time. So I love getting them involved that way with the community and yeah, that's, that's a wonderful thing.
Sean 00:38:17 So say a student moves to a new town and do they just try to show up and say, Hey, what can I do? Is that, is that a good strategy or is there, or is there more nuance to it? Well
Julie 00:38:27 That actually is a great, great strategy to say, Hey, what can I do? I tell them, don't put that you only want a specific role unless you know that time-wise you can only commit to a specific role, otherwise put that you're open to do anything. I'm willing to try backstage because they might say, you know, we don't, you know, we filled the ensemble, but would you, would you like to try assistant stage manager? Would you, you know, I see that you helped out with costumes in high school or would you be interesting in helping out with our costume Q crew here? Um, just being open to saying that you could do anything will get you so far in so many experiences and so many students that have done that find a niche then and they're like, oh, I hadn't thought about costumes. I wanted to be on stage, but I love designing these costumes. And then all of a sudden they're off into a second career. Maybe they decide their masters wants to be in costume design and they were a business major for undergraduate. You know, you just, there's so many opportunities of what they can do, especially in community theaters and community theaters need people just to come in and say that I'm open, what can I do? How can I get involved? And I try to help network them as much as I can. <laugh>.
Sean 00:39:39 Well, if you did any kind of theater, uh, in high school, in college, you're doing it now and you want to maintain that. Julie just gave you some great advice on how to do that. And speaking of all those different levels of that, Julie, obviously you've done a lot of serving as the, the director, the musical production and the leadership roles. Do you take any different perspectives on how you lead in a high school versus a collegiate versus a community town setting? The high
Julie 00:40:05 School is, is more of the teaching of the elements and what goes behind it. When you get to collegiate, your, uh, fine tuning and you're, uh, focusing more on certain areas, whether it's they're singing, they're performing, um, what they're doing backstage, I tried to involve, uh, the university students in the pits, pit orchestras as much as I could, but also have professional players, a few professional players so that they could network with them and they could learn from these people who were doing professional music as their career. Even if they, you know, the students didn't want to, but they had that experience of working with them that way with the community, people on stage, I'm, I'm there because they wanna be there. I wouldn't be there, you know, I wouldn't be doing this if they didn't want to be doing it. You know, that they had some experience in high school or college and they just wanna continue doing it. And the, the passion that they bring in it, I mean it's truly driven by their, their passion and their desire to do it. Just tell stories and work together. And so many of them, it's so different from what they do in their day job and it's just such a release for them as an adult to, to go out and be able to do that. So I try to focus on helping them do the best they can do and make sure that they enjoy it.
Sean 00:41:20 That is really good to hear. And I think there's probably some similarities, like generally at this level, you know, you're, you're doing it cuz you want to, they're mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, it's not a job. You're doing this out of the, the the joy of theater. Right,
Julie 00:41:32 Right. Yeah. And even me as a, you know, music director, yes I have a full-time job as a teacher, but I do all these other things cause I love doing them. And it, and it feeds my soul to create in a different way that I can't do at the high school. A lot of limitations in public education on what you can and can't do artistically. So community theater offers me those opportunities that I might not be able to do in high school also.
Sean 00:41:56 So what show would you say, just, uh, curiosity here, what show have did you like doing the most? Just in term, not, you know, thinking of the cast or the script and, and in different things and what's one show that you haven't been able to direct yet that you wish you could?
Julie 00:42:12 Ooh, those are good questions. Cause I always have trouble answering that question about ah, show. Oh hmm. Wow. I love doing Once On This Island and I've done it in three different places and each, each time it was different, but there's so much in that story and so much diversity in that, in that musical. I lo I love, I love doing that One. Next To Normal is a musical that I would do in a heartbeat again. I just, there was something about the music that one just, yeah, that one hit home. I don't know, just music. Everything went together on that one. I've just completed, um, bridges of Madison County and it was a gorgeous piece. Um, just a, a gorgeous piece. I, I think I, I tend to like the ones that are really fun to play on the piano. Like any sunheim, I'll do any song, any sunheim again, any time. Um, but you know, the ones that that touch me on the piano musically, in addition to what's happening on stage as musical director, those are the ones that I, I tend to do. What have I not done? Wow. Well I've done a lot, um, <laugh>, um,
Sean 00:43:20 Yeah, you had quite the list on your cv, so, uh,
Julie 00:43:23 I would say I, oh, I got to do Sweeney Todd. That was, that was fun. Um, <laugh> got to do finally Sweeney Todd, I haven't done as much, um, Jason Robert Brown musicals and that would be fun to direct some of those. Yeah, I, I don't know, there's, I don't like have this list of what I'd like to do. It's kind like when something's offered up to me, it's like, then I think, okay, do I wanna do this one or do I not want to do it? You know, time wise it's like, oh I haven't done that one. Or Yeah, I'll do that one again. Let me, let me see what you're gonna do it, you know, do with it. And that's why I, I'll do something repeat doing a musical.
Sean 00:43:59 So if you do repeat one, do you get to like from a creative standpoint go, Hmm, how can I do this different? Is there, you know, something I wish I had done last time is that, is that something you can do? Oh yes.
Julie 00:44:10 Oh yes. And so much depends on uh, like as a musical director, what the director's vision is and then cuz I'm there to support that and so then what do they think and what are they going towards? And then how can I re-look at the music and say, okay, how can we musically support this? And so then you attack it a whole different way even though it's the same, same music. I
Sean 00:44:31 Think that's what's great about theater is like there's all these components to it, right? Like you're looking at it, you know, a lot of your answers there and your favorites had to deal with the piano, right? Cuz that's your area of expertise. And I was thinking about my own experience. I haven't only done a few shows, but I was like, mine was probably weirdly my Fair Lady. It's not a the best play. No, I
Julie 00:44:49 Like
Sean 00:44:50 That one. But I loved that one so much because we had a lot of fun building the sets. Oh, we got together a little crazy. We built like Piccadilly Square and Henry Higgins office and we got real wild with the book titles that you couldn't see from the audience and stuff. Exactly.
Julie 00:45:03 Oh, I love doing that <laugh>.
Sean 00:45:04 And like so is, you know, not my favorite show, but that was like my favorite show doing cuz like Oklahoma was like bare bone sets and then we got to go crazy with my Fair Lady. So that was, yeah, that was a fun time. I
Julie 00:45:18 I I enjoy doing the Black box theater also because it's just this empty black box and you can't necessarily build elaborate sets. So how can you create a world of minimalism or through minimalism and how can you create this world? And so then you find yourself, you know, using um, different things. I did uh, the Marvelous Journey of Edward Tulane or a miraculous journey of Edward Tulane in, in a black box. And we used those ubiquitous theater cubes, those black cubes that we use in theater to become anything, right. They become anything that you want 'em to do, to do. So we had like five cubes and then we created a hoop up in the lighting area and uh, it actually went around a disco ball that we used cuz we needed stars. But then we, we took huge swaths of, of white fabric attached to that hoop. And the actors then took those and it becomes sales, it becomes a room, um, you know, it drapes and it, those, those three long ribbons of white material and then the lights play off of it, right. And create different moods lighting wise and, and how they used, how we ended up using that. Well that's just, that's unleashes creativity. It's so much fun to do that way.
Sean 00:46:37 I'm sure we could talk theater all day, but I do wanna ask about a few other things that you, that you do, Julie. And one of those things that you talked about early was, you know, you went and learned kind of cross denominational organ and you have a pretty cool side gig as a church pianist. You go and yes, church organist fill in at whatever church needs it, you or even a synagogue you said. So how did you get into that and what advice do you have for a student who, you know, is also talented on the piano or the organ and is like, Hey, maybe I could do that
Julie 00:47:07 At Penn State? Um, we learned him playing as part of our organ lessons, so not just literature, but how to play him so that we could be employed as church organists. And then moved to Virginia and I was like, well, I wanna keep playing the organs, but you know, it's my second year teaching, so I need to concentrate on that, so I'll just put myself out as a substitute organist and just kind of started there. Then the degree at, uh, Shenandoah and the work there opened me up to being really anything. And that was, that was huge as far as my ability then to say, yeah, I can play anywhere. I also had a mentor that, well, two mentors, an organ that said, don't become a member of a church where you work <laugh> only because as an organist, the the politics of ch of the church around you and, and music and how that connects to a a congregation can get messy.
Julie 00:47:59 And so they said, you know, if you keep yourself separate, you don't get involved in that and you can concentrate on the music and feeding the congregation through the music. And then you're not part of that congregation saying, oh, well, oh wait, you're judging, you know, I'm, I'm a member too. You don't have that in there. And so that, that served me as being able to go to different nominations and I just pop in and, and I try to make it so that the congregation doesn't really realize that someone else is playing, you know, stylistically there'd be people who can tell, but my idea is not necessarily stylistically, but how can I keep that their service flowing and not have any kinks, like, oops, I forgot to play there. So my goal is to, to keep it flowing so that, you know, the pastor, the priest, whatever, they don't know that really there's a substitute organist
Sean 00:48:46 That is really cool advice. I like that about kind of, you know, this is the church I go to, this is the ones I play at.
Julie 00:48:51 Yeah.
Sean 00:48:52 Yeah. It's very smart. Yeah, I like that. It
Julie 00:48:54 Has served me well.
Sean 00:48:55 And, and you talked, you mentioned about, you know, when you first started teaching, you're like, Hey, this is maybe something I can fit in my schedule. You have a lot going on. You do this on top of teaching, on top of serving as musical director at various levels. How do you balance all these demands that really are seven days a week? Yes,
Julie 00:49:11 I said I freelance my fingers. So I have a color coordinated, um, calendar, you know, a calendar on a phone. I can't see it cuz I found that I had to color coordinate. So I have a color for theater, a color for, you know, education school, a color for churches. And so all I have to do is look at that color and know where I'm going. What, what, what, what am I gonna be right now? Okay. I'm going to be the, um, community theater person. Okay. All right. Oh, this is a church thing. Okay. Oh, no, I have to play a funeral. Okay. Try to find out something about that person so I can at least have music that maybe would, you know, be be fit for them. Yeah. It's just, it's a weird organizational time thing. When I was at Penn State, I remember my June Miller, the Oregon professor would have me talk to other students after my first year there and she would have them have me talk to them about time management. I don't know that I was really thinking about time management, but I was apparently able to, to do it. Then I don't really remember what I did specifically, but, you know, rehearsing and I'd be in all these ensembles and somehow I was able to do that plus working. Yeah. So, yeah, I've always kind of done that. Well,
Sean 00:50:17 I'm glad that we were able to fit this in <laugh>. You know, you're probably always going somewhere for these things and hey, you were able to do this one from home. So that's, I know,
Julie 00:50:23 I know. That's
Sean 00:50:24 Wonderful. I bet you're like, oh, wow. For once I get to sit at my own house and do, do some, do something. Yes.
Julie 00:50:30 Yes.
Sean 00:50:30 And speaking of going places, one of the things that really jumped out when, um, we got connected through a colleague here at Penn State was something that you do over the summer that is really unique and really, really cool. Julie, could you tell us about the war bonds tour that you helped create and lead and perform in both, like what it is, what you enjoy about it, but also what leadership lessons did you pull from it? Because you've been doing this for a while, you helped start it. Give us your insights on how you keep this project going.
Julie 00:50:59 Yes. So, um, through my community theater and professional theater involvement in Raleigh, I met a husband and wife team and she, um, had always sung and performed and someone said, Hey, you know, you should sing 1940s music. And at the same time, her husband's father was the, was dying and he was World War II vet. And so the husband had done all these recordings that he interviewed his father and heard stories that he had never heard before because World War II vets didn't talk about what they went through. And they came up with this idea of, Hey, we wanna do something that has the actual veterans experiences, but we want, you know, um, Serena Ebhart, we want her to sing as in addition to act. So, you know, we worked with you in this theater, so we like the way that you play and collaborate.
Julie 00:51:50 Would you like to be a part of this project? So we started thinking of songs and how we could work them, and they did the research on the letters. And so the whole story is told through the music, which comments on or, uh, helps continue the story and the actual veterans letters, there's very little that we wrote. It's the Veterans Letters and put together that tell the story from the war before the war to the end of the war. And it's a lot of times it's just the three of us on stage. And they realize that yes, I was playing the piano, but because I was on stage, I happened to be acting even though I wasn't saying anything. And so I've come kind of this character that I become different characters in their, in their letters and so they can interact with me. And then they had people, they said, oh, well, you know, you're doing Boogie, boogie Bugga, boy, you should have a, you should have a trumpet and, and you know, you should have like the bass and drums with it.
Julie 00:52:43 So they said, Hey Julie, can you add bass and drums? So now we get into orchestration and adding that, I got some big band charts and pulled from them. So we can tour with just three of us, two actors and me on the piano. We can add bass and drums, we can add bass drums and saxophone. We can add bass drums and trumpet or all of us, whatever we do. And we ended up, you know, we went from North Carolina, a lot of performances in North Carolina. And then we started spreading out and then we're like, oh, we've made it to the Mississippi River. Okay. And then we made it past, oh, now we're made it to the Missouri River. And in 2008 I had actually left teaching to work at a church full-time in 2001 and just wanted to, uh, focus on that where I could actually do theater and music and Oregon all in one church.
Julie 00:53:32 And, um, was doing that. Well, this war bond started building and building and I was needing more time away as we toured across the country. And so I decided to go totally freelance in 2008 and we hit, uh, 15 venues in 13 states, I think in five weeks. Um, we were just on the road crisscrossing the United States, and we would hire in musicians where we went. So as leadership, I had to teach these people our show in two hours and have them play it and lead them in Yes. For performance. Um, you know, we'd send them the music and, but you know, come in and I'd have to teach them the flow. And then we'd do a couple songs with the singers so they could see what was happening. And then it's like, okay, now you're just gonna have to watch me. Here we go.
Julie 00:54:18 And we'd sometimes incorporate actual letters from the communities that we're in. So that's a wonderful connection with the people there. And it's just been so wonderful seeing the United States hearing these stories and these letters. They never grow old and they're stories that continue to need to be told. We incorporate stories of women in World War II and of minorities in World War ii, but you know, we have the actual letters, you know, and we've done the research. And the funny thing is that that honors thesis and learning how to do the research, it paid off. It's still, you know, something that I had to use in creating this research on finding the music, you know, and the orchestrations that I wanted to do. So it's a, it's a piece that will stays very much alive every time we do it and we get touched by it differently.
Julie 00:55:08 Sometimes it's just a different letter hits you and, or there's just the vi the vibration that you get back from the audience and how, how they're feeling. But I just, I cherish being able to do this and still be able to do it. And, um, yes, I have to take sometimes days off of school to do it. And different schools have dealt with it differently over time on whether they consider it professional development because I'm out teaching in these communities or whether they say, oh no, you're performing and you're getting paid so you don't get paid for school today. So, you know, it, it differs, but it's, it's something that, oh, I won't give up until we have to bury it or ourselves
Sean 00:55:47 <laugh>, that whole story is incredible. Use that honors experience. Yeah. And you know, we know what we're talking about and lots of different people, women, people of color and others, a lot of indigenous Native American folks Yes. Obviously contributed to those efforts in World War II and other wars mm-hmm. <affirmative> in, in, throughout our history. So, glad that you're making sure all these different stories are told. If a student wants to check this out, like, you know, see if it's coming near where they live or where a relative lives in the summer, how can they check that out and see if, you know, they're available to go see a show?
Julie 00:56:20 Yes, it's actually, we're, we're available year round. We tend to get booked around Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but sometimes in the summer and just any time of the year. The company is e b ZB Productions at www.ebzb.org. Their theater takes a lot of things like that that help teach, though you don't realize you're being taught through the theater. And it, like I said, it's a husband and wife team with this, um, out of Apex or Raleigh, North Carolina. And um, yeah, they can go on there and um, check out war bonds and other shows that are there. We also actually filmed for, um, PBS and it's been distributed. So sometimes, you know, around Veterans Day, you can go on your local PBS and say, oh hey, there's war bonds and it's still, it's still out there that way too.
Sean 00:57:11 That's awesome that it's documented and, and continues to live there. Yeah. And, and so you mentioned touring and one last kind of specific question for you before we do our wrap up questions. Julie, you shared that not only are you involved in school and church and theater and the war bonds tour, but you're also able to drive some vehicles to those locations, <laugh> that probably most of our scholars might not be able to at least yet. So can you tell us how those fit into your professional and personal interests?
Julie 00:57:42 The motorcycle, the, the smallest thing on my, um, the driver's license endorsement is, um, something that I kind of latched onto with my husband and gained an interest and I started riding behind and then I'm like, Hey, it'd be fun to be ride next to him on my own bike. So I was like, okay, let me go take that course because, you know, I'm not averse to taking lessons and classes, right? So I was like, oh, let me take that. So, alright, I got my motorcycle endorsement, got my own motorcycle. I even rode the motorcycle to church, which threw some people off, like that's our organist coming in on a motorcycle, um, <laugh>. So then, um, did that, we actually, um, did Route 66 last summer and that was a wonderful trip. Three weeks on motorcycle, again, crossing the country and getting to see so much of it that way.
Julie 00:58:31 And then as a teacher, as a theater teacher, you tend to go on competitions and trips and a lot of the competitions are on weekends and it's hard to find bus drivers when you go on those trips. You have to pay them to get their own room, you have to pay their hourly wage, you have to pay their meals then plus the bus costs, and that gets quite expensive. So one principal said, Hey, why don't you get your cdl? I'm like, okay, I'll get my cdl. So I went and took the classes and it's funny because the test, not the written test at the dmv, but the test that, um, I guess our county gave where you had to basically learn a script, a theater script, that you had to say exactly the right order, exact things while you're pointing to things underneath the bus and on the bus and say, well, this is this and I look for this and this, and then, you know, I won't drive it if it's this way. And, uh, it was, it's a whole script of, uh, things that you have to learn and memorize and, and do. So made the driving easy. Even, you know, parallel parking a school bus in some ways is easier than the theater script that you had to learn to do it <laugh>.
Sean 00:59:39 That is awesome. And just chose to show you that lifelong learning can look a lot of different ways you've taken masters programs that you've accomplished at some great schools in Virginia and North Carolina, and then getting your CDL driving the school bus. That is, that is awesome. But what would you say, Julie, as we go into our last couple questions here that I asked everybody who comes on following the gong, what would you say is your biggest success to date?
Julie 01:00:04 I, I mean, war bombs, the, the creation of that. Seeing it come to life, seeing it stay alive, bringing it to communities across the country. I mean, we made it all the way to the West Coast and we performed out there and up in Maine and down in Florida. That, that's, that's something that I'm, I'm inordinately proud of being a part of that,
Sean 01:00:25 As you should be. Cuz based on what you've described, it sounds like an incredible accomplishment and kind of like an adult version of a thesis in a way. <laugh>. Yeah.
Julie 01:00:32 Yeah, yeah, yeah, it is.
Sean 01:00:34 But on the flip side, obviously that's a great accomplishment, but what would you say has been a, a big transformational learning moment or mistake that you've made and, and what you took from that?
Julie 01:00:45 I think when I've, when I was teaching and I tried to force something that maybe I wanted and that my ensemble or production or whatever didn't want, and I tried to force it and, and it just doesn't work. And that's when I, I truly learned the collaborate, you know, collaboration does so much, not, not only for learning yourself and but learners and for how you teach. For instance, at Penn State, I give back as an alumni. So I have a fund, an endowment, well I guess it's a fund non endowment, but I wanted to give back to the university. And so I have it in my will. So part of part of my money will go back to Penn State then. But I wanted to give something now, uh, that gives to the students and I can see it working. It's not like something that's working after I'm dead.
Julie 01:01:34 And Penn State really worked with me on, you know, I have so many interests, what do I wanna do? And collaboration is a huge thing. And maybe it was learning from trying to force something that didn't work. But, uh, so it's a collaborative pianist. When I was at Penn State, we didn't, you know, get paid to accompany the voice majors, but I just loved accompany and, you know, accompany choirs and accompanying singers. Sometimes the, the singers would pay you or the instrumentalists could pay you a little bit. We're we're all students, you know. So it is more of the, I'm learning from it. I didn't necessarily care if I got paid, but looking back it was really like, yeah, that was a lot, you know, a lot of time it would've been nice to earn some money doing that. So the fund helps whether it helps them go to a professional development to learn, um, whether it just pays for their time playing for other people or does it help them with travel for something, you know, that they can learn from. So that's what the fund does and I think it, it all comes back to that collaboration, which I also did learn at Penn State and even back in, you know, in high school and all, all those opportunities for working with people and making it happen.
Sean 01:02:44 Absolutely. And we definitely really appreciate that, both thinking the, the current piece as well as the legacy piece with the estate commitment. So thank you for that Julie. And definitely collaborations, how you even ended up here. I asked some of my colleagues in arts and architecture and I said, Hey, the arts are woefully underrepresented on this show. Do you have any cool install grads that I can talk to? And that's how we got connected. So. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and if you're curious on how the other side of that works, you know, obviously Julie, you're a donor. If you're curious on the fundraising side, go back, I'm gonna shameless plug my own show here. Mm-hmm. Go back and listen to episode 13, uh, with my boss's boss, Tina Hennessy, who's a scholar, alumni, and an AVP here. And you can learn what it's like to be a gift officer and how people work, uh, with donors like Julie and, and make that happen. Yes. Uh, so collaboration has been a great theme in our conversation today and one that comes up in every episode and including today in our conversation is mentorship. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, are there any suggestions you have on how to approach mentorship that you've gleaned? I know we've talked a little bit, it's come up here and there throughout the conversation, but what recommendations do you have for students and particularly aspiring teachers on seeking out mentorship?
Julie 01:03:49 Uh, just go to the teacher that you admire that then inspires you. And it could be maybe you're not necessarily thinking, oh, I like, you know, I want to learn their teaching. You might just say, I love how they teach this, you know, subject and I love this subject. So, you know, get me involved in that. And it might not be directed towards, I want to learn how to write lesson plans for this thing, but more, you know, how can I inspire, how can I get these ideas across in different ways? And you, you just have to look for those people and just go up and ask them. You'd be surprised at how many people have not been asked that would love to share. Part of what they get through the sharing is they learn from it cuz they see the student learning, you know, the the, their men mentee. They, they get to see them learning and they're like, oh, oh, I could try that now too. And again, you end up collaborating as a mentor with, with the person that you're mentoring. So yeah, just go ask
Sean 01:04:44 That is, that is really helpful. I think many people have said that, but if this is your first time listening, that is that sometimes it's all it takes and you've named dropped a few people, but chance to formally shout them out. Are there any professors or friends from your scholar days that you want to give a shout out to here? The tail end of our conversation? Well,
Julie 01:05:01 June Miller was huge. Um, she was my organ professor and mentor and she helped me in, even though I wasn't, you know, I was student teaching, but I had something come up and she stood up for me. And, um, so as, as a mentor, she also stood up for me as a friend at that point cuz we had reached that point and we're still friends and we still talk and I still ask her things and, uh, try to meet up with her whenever I get to Penn State and, and see her again. Uh, she's re retired, but, um, still very much a part of my life and I love that quarterly Dr. Uh, d Doug Miller. I got to tour, uh, Europe twice with him and a community town Andow choir that he put together. Huge experiences for me. I wouldn't trade them for the world tho. Those were, uh, wonderful educationally, uh, Joanne Murkowski. Um, Dick Bundy helped me out with the, the music ed classes and they, they were, again, they worked with me to help them help me make a class that worked for me and, uh, worked for the scholars program that they was, it was wonderful that way. Yeah.
Sean 01:06:04 So again, you know, go to your professor's office hours, come talk to us in the Honors college, find those people. Everybody has, you know, those advocates, those mentors, those resources. So you know, Julie, you have your fault so you just shout it out and hopefully you listening have yours or you're in the process of finding them. So yes, uh, let us know how we can help if you need that. So as we're wrapping up, we've had a really great conversation here today, Julie, is there anything I didn't ask about that you wanted to leave some advice for students that maybe just didn't come up organically in, in our conversation? Um,
Julie 01:06:33 No, I think that that pretty much all kind of came out cuz it all kind of ties in together. Like you said, collaboration is a major theme.
Sean 01:06:41 Excellent. If a scholar wanted to reach out to you and connect and ask you more questions or find out more about the war bonds tour, what it's like to be a music teacher, to be a musical director for theater or any of the other really cool stuff you're doing or even getting your CDL <laugh>, how can they connect with you? I
Julie 01:06:58 Do have a website, which I need to update, but it is fingertips music.org. Um, and that has some of the varied things, uh, that I do on there, including war bonds and connections to that with the Oregon, um, acapella singing group that I was in. I taught piano lessons for years, uh, private piano lessons for years. So that's all kind of in there. I am out on social media in Instagram and Facebook. I'm on LinkedIn now professionally that way I don't consider that social media. Yeah,
Sean 01:07:28 That one's kind of weird. It's like,
Julie 01:07:29 Yeah, it's professional media trying to
Sean 01:07:30 Social kind of professional. Yeah, that one's in a weird, in a weird space.
Julie 01:07:33 But yeah, as a teacher I try to show the all the theater things that I'm involved in and, uh, highlight them as we're working on each different project. And of course, you know, the cats, we've gotta show my cats all all the time. So <laugh> social media's fun for that.
Sean 01:07:47 Yes. The dog and cat pictures. Yes. That is probably one of the, the best uses for them at this point.
Julie 01:07:52 Yes.
Sean 01:07:53 <laugh>. Well, you heard how you can connect with her. And Julie, a final question that I asked everybody is, if you were a flavor of Bey creamery ice cream, which would you be? And not what's your favorite, but which would you be? And most importantly as a scholar alumna, why would you be that flavor?
Julie 01:08:09 I would be crazy Charlie Sunday swirl because, well, I have a crazy schedule. Many people think I'm crazy for doing all that I do, but it's all these flavors put together, right? All swirled up. They're all working together at the same time. You never know which way it's gonna go as it swirls. So that's where I would be.
Sean 01:08:27 I think that is a great answer. And that is the first time we've heard that one. So that was a new one, folks. Love it, <laugh>. Well, I really appreciate our conversation today. We touched on a wide range of things. We didn't even get into entrepreneurship with how you go about these side hustles and piano lessons and all those things. Oh, that's a conversation for another day. But really appreciate all of your insights on teaching, on theater and, and everything which in between in the arts. Julie, thank you so much for joining us here today. Well,
Julie 01:08:53 Thank you for having me. I've, I've enjoyed it greatly. Thank you.
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