After the birth of our second child, Carl and I moved again, this time to the Denbigh area of Newport News. Reluctantly, I quit my church job in Hampton, but immediately discovered that Page Williams, a friend from college was Director of Music Ministries/Organist at a United Methodist Church in Denbigh. She needed an accompanist for one adult choir and a director for the youth choir. I accepted the job and continued teaching piano. It was good to be immersed in music again.
Not only did Page and I work together in perfect synchrony, but we soon learned that a former professor at our alma mater, Greensboro College, was doing something revolutionary. Shortly after Page and I had graduated, Dr. Lorna Heyge traveled to Germany to acquire her PhD. While there, she discovered a groundbreaking method of teaching music to young children. It was more like captivating children with music through singing, moving, focused listening and playing age-appropriate instruments. After translating the curriculum into English, Dr. Heyge launched a successful pilot program at Greensboro College and asked Page and me to become involved. This was a turning point in my career.
Dr. Heyge settled in Princeton, New Jersey so she could train and certify teachers through Westminster Choir College. Page and I, leaving our young families behind, traveled to Princeton to be educated in the philosophy and pedagogy of what eventually became Musikgarten.
When we returned, we established an early childhood music school at the United Methodist Church in Denbigh. It was a successful endeavor that Page kept going for thirty years. Eventually, Carl and I moved to Williamsburg where I founded the Early Childhood Music School (ECMS) of Williamsburg United Methodist Church.
It was no secret. I had found my true calling. I fulfilled my passion for conducting by directing three choirs at the church and the Williamsburg Women’s Chorus. I started ECMS with two Musikgarten classes of four-year-olds. The next year I had two classes of five-year-olds and two new classes of four-year-olds. As the school grew steadily, I hired and trained more teachers.
Eventually Dr. Heyge moved back to Greensboro where she established the permanent home base for Musikgarten. The company has flourished throughout the world because of ethical business practices, outstanding teacher-trainers and age-appropriate curricula. It provides music-and-movement education from infancy through age ten, including group piano. There’s even a group piano program for adults.
When I retired after twenty-seven years as director of ECMS, where I taught ten classes per week, the school had expanded to a staff of twelve instructors teaching four hundred students on-site and another three hundred preschool children in an outreach program with Head Start, Bright Beginnings and Child Development Resources. I had fulfilled my life’s calling, or so I thought.
I still haven’t come to how this relates to the writing part of my career, so I guess I’ll have to keep blogging.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories, and three published novels: Diary in the Attic, Unrevealed (second edition now released) and The Dark Room. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com