Making sure the music lasts a lifetime

When Christine Halvorson retired from teaching elementary music, she wanted a part-time job. Little did she know that she would be extending her teaching career in a very creative manner, and that her years of knowledge would be the bookends that would allow her to link that many volumes of music skills and expertise that she had congregated over a gratifying career.

Denisse Cameron had the wisdom and insight to bring to the music program Children’s Music Academy to the Rugby community. She taught this program for numerous years with much success.

Children’s Music Academy was first utilized in southern California in 1974 and it specialized in quality music education. The carefully written curriculum focuses on age-appropriate activities. Research has revealed that children’s ears are most receptive to musical training between the ages of 3-6. With this awareness, the program theme was developed. Cameron and her husband, Steve, relocated to Minot. This gave the teaching opportunity to Mrs. Halvorson. Lydia, along with her fellow classmates Kendyl Hager, Erik Foster, Mariann Kraft, Janikka Miller and Tabitha Huwe, were in the inaugural class in the fall of 2009. Lydia was 4 years old at the time and bit reserved about attending. She was not “tosto” to pick up on the idea of taking music lessons. However, her “tempo” gradually began to change and pick up as the guiding “tone” of Mrs. Halvorson managed to connect the young students and their parents in a “unison” fashion.

When a student enrolls in CMA, one parent must be present at all lessons. What a “vivo” idea! Parents and children learning a life skill together, and actually spending time with one another, in a motivating and exciting educational experience – what a wonderful concept. Ear training for music is the thrust; however, ears of adults and children must constantly be “tuned” in as Mrs. Halvorson conducts lessons in front of the room.

I had the delight of going with Lydia several times to her lessons and sitting next to her at her keyboard, as her little fingers scurried across the keys to play the turkey song. Mrs. Halvorson mentioned the very first day that mistakes were OK – that is how we learn. We simply move on! This kid-friendly “arrangement” had this class eager to learn and ready to play, with a joy that knew no bounds. As the cheerful yellow room with its musical designed valances greeted the “allegro” attitudes, these tender souls grew weekly. Their level of self-esteem blossomed as they mastered “chords” and presented themselves for solos.

Criticism is not part of Halvorson’s teaching plan. Instead, her creativity guided each one to correction, always gently, patiently and to the point that they were able to look into the surprise box, where a crew of reward trinkets dwelled. This is what truly distinguishes Mrs. Halvorson as an “Esuberante” music educator.

As they were encouraged with their little lips to count and clap out loud to get the “rhythm” correct and to play games such as “Around the World” that reinforced their knowledge of notes, flat, sharps, majors, minors and much more, I felt like a rich man. Thank goodness I wore my contacts most days, because when wells of joy began to pool, I could pretend my silly contact was acting up again.

One of my favorite parts of class had to be when Mrs. Treble Clef who lived in the grand staff apartment house rode the elevator. She, however, went no place without complete makeup, earrings and often invigorating hair!

Jan and Lydia attended the majority of the classes together, and I looked forward each week as they sat at our Henry Miller piano and practiced. Jan’s years of concentrated piano lessons with Mrs. Bernice O’Connell in Ray formed a bridge that Lydia could stroll over with harmony and dynamics. It is interesting to note that Mrs. O’Connell gave over 50,000 lessons in her 40 years of giving lessons. Jan mentions all were with “con spirto.”

I will never forget the moment Lydia played her recital piece “Distant Chimes.” My hands were in the dishpan, and my heart seemed to drop to the kitchen floor as I heard her pedal and play many “Dolce” crossovers. I felt again like a rich man. I realized she had grasped the concept and that wherever she would venture, music would go with her like the moon and stars. The theme of CMA is “Making Music Last A Lifetime.” Mrs. Halvorson certainly has done this with her first CMA class, who had their graduation on March 3.

After the recital, the parents served a lunch. This included salad recipe has been in the tried and true collection of my mother-in-law, Delores Thompson, for over 20 years. I do believe Delores calls it Harvest Salad. This is a beautiful salad, rich in orange tones and topped with a cool smooth creamy light layer. When exhibited in a large serving bowl, you actually see three hemispheres. It is the top layer that adds the brilliance to this Jell-o salad which brings it to almost a dessert level. Be assured your taste buds will receive a powerful broad-spectrum coverage in sweetness as your eyes adore a palette of orange, apricot and peach you thought you could only dream about. Did I mention the texture? It’s enough to make a texture food junkie swoon – so therefore I nominate this salad for the “3BTs Award:” Best Tone, Best Texture and Best Taste! Now I hope her topping doesn’t shake too much as she proceeds to the platform to accept her silver whisk!