Appreciating the Teachers Who Shaped Us

Teacher Appreciation Week is an opportunity to celebrate teachers for everything that they do. Here at MakeMusic, we want to thank teachers for the incredible ways they support their students, and the immeasurable impact they have on the world.

This year, we asked our team at Alfred Music and MakeMusic to share some of the most influential and important teachers in our lives.

Butch Eversole & Craig Ketels – High School Band

Butch and Ketels made the band room the only place I wanted to be. Our group of 13 friends spent before school, lunch, and after school hanging out in the band locker room, even though half of our group wasn’t even in band! They showed me that suspended cymbal can be the most important instrument during the climax of a piece, that it is way more fun playing a hundred instruments pretty well than playing one perfectly, and that it’s okay to try something new, even if it turns out to be too hard: admitting defeat is just as valuable as succeeding.

– Felicia E.
Marketing Specialist

Mr. Gary Dierks – 9th Grade Math

Mr. Dierks was the type of teacher that put the fear of god into his students – but it the best way possible. He expected you to live up to your potential and wouldn’t let you slide by doing the bare minimum. You wanted to do better because you didn’t want to let him down. He pushed you out of your comfort zone and taught you that failing was just a step on the path to success. He was also my track & field coach – both on and off the field he treated me with respect and pushed me beyond all my limits!

– Sonia B.
VP of Operations

Mr. Seitz – 7th Grade Science/Biology

Mr. Seitz consistently treated his (middle school) students like we were capable of much more than the typical expectations of a 12-year-old. He had a great teaching style that combined humor with challenging content, all while fostering a great understanding of scientific systems in Biology and Ecology through hands-on, authentic learning experience.

– Ryan L.
Publication Database Specialist

Mrs. Popejoy – Middle School Choir

Choir was my favorite place to be. It was a happy, inclusive space, and I loved the encouragement and confidence it gave me. It was my place of belonging.

– Jodi A.
Sr. Director, Marketing

John Mastroianni – High School Music

Music was always a key part of my identity, so it may be obvious, but my music teacher John has always been a guiding light. High school can be difficult to navigate between daily life and stressing over future endeavors, but John was always able to provide space and guidance. His passion for music education sparked interest in everyone around him.

– Dan G.
Digital Marketing Manager

Mr. Ray Kudzia – Band, Grades 7-9

Mr. Kudzia was the reason I became a euphonium player and a band director. He made learning fun and told the corniest jokes. We would do anything for him! We stayed in touch throughout high school and college; he was a mentor to me as a music ed student. After I graduated, he and his wife drove over an hour to attend my wedding. That meant the world to me.

– Heather M.
Marketing Coordinator, Events

Jack Van Geem – Percussion Performance, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Jack was able to create a remarkable connection with me as a student through the use of analogies and storytelling. He also helped me understand the value of focusing on refinement of the “process” rather than the “product” in my practice, which I’ve found directly applicable to many different facets of learning and leadership in my life.

– Tom G.
Senior Vice President, Business Development

Michael Sopko – Band

Mr. Sopko instilled the love of music in me and in many, many students. One reason we all loved it so much was because HE loved it so much. He was the kind of teacher that supported the love of music and encouraged friendship and camaraderie through band. I know there are hundreds of his former students that feel the same way as I do!

– Chris B.
Director of School Instrumental Methods and Repertoire

Dr. Hallman – High School Chemistry and Physics

She always let me come hang out before class and steal snacks from her fridge.

– Bridget Y.
Email Marketing Specialist

Steve Wells – Band

He supported me as a student and as a person. He made band challenging and fun, and inspired me to become a band director myself. And he really cared! Even now – 30 years later – he came to my father’s visitation because he wanted to support me. I’ll never forget that!

– Andrea P.
Royalties Manager

Mrs. Peggy Ormsby – American History/Senior Seminar

Mrs. Ormsby was one of those teachers who inspired her students to pursue their passions. She also taught us to be curious and how to do good research. She encouraged all of us to read books and watch movies outside of our own experiences in order to better understand the world around us and empathize with others.

For our Senior Seminar class, each of us had to teach the class for one session. We could choose any topic we wanted, but we had to give a presentation and lead the class in a discussion. I chose “The Benefits of Music Education” as my topic, discussing the many non-musical rewards of studying music (better performance in math, improved communication skills, etc.). At the time, my career ambitions were outside of music education, but that presentation ended up planting a seed that eventually led to my decision to start teaching which ultimately landed me here at Alfred/MakeMusic working to equip music teachers with the tools they need to help their students succeed not just in music, but in life.

– Mallory B.
Product Marketing Manager

Prof. Reginald Sanders – Music History (Baroque through Romantic, Opera)

Prof. Sanders’s enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge was very contagious. His classes were full of lively discussion and they were at once challenging and motivating. He is also a fantastic mentor, and continues to encourage me to pursue my interests. I never knew I liked opera until I took his Opera History seminar. The way he communicated the history made it so approachable and interesting, even if I’d never shown interest in the subject matter. I went on to study music history (and a lot of opera history) and earn my MA because of him!

– Juliet L.
Customer Support Representative

Michael Powell – College Trombone Professor

Michael was the kindest most influential teacher I had. I improved as a player and musician the most under his influence. Michael was able to highlight my strengths and help me improve my weakness. In addition he would never let me sell myself short and he always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile that was encouraging. While in college, by his invitation he included me in two faculty performances that are memories of a lifetime. Today he is my friend.

– Ted S.
Education Specialist

Red Reynolds – High School Jazz Ensemble

Red was my first ever trombone instructor. It was his support and encouragement that drove me to practice more than ever to live out my dream of becoming a music educator. When I announced I wanted to major in music he took it upon himself to prepare me for college auditions, knowing full well I could not afford lessons. He even offered to drive me to one 500 miles away. In High School and in college we continued to perform together. He was my Best Man at my wedding.

– Ted S.
Education Specialist

Dotty Reaves – Elementary General Music

Ms. Reaves is responsible for lighting my musical fire in Elementary school with a solo and a set of handbells. She was so encouraging and kind and I learned both beautiful and difficult lessons in her classroom. It is because of her influence that I stayed with music through College and eventually landed my own job teaching music, and then she mentored me. I will always be grateful for her ongoing presence in my life!

– Stacey L.
Account Growth Specialist

Mr. Ed Belin – Concert and Marching Band

Mr. Belin was the first music teacher to notice and encourage my interest in music. He challenged me to find my niche, which ultimately led to a fantastic career in music publishing.

– Mendy V.
Director, Distribution & Royalties

John O’Connor – High School Chemistry and Physics

He taught in a way that inspired me to want to learn and understand the why behind things. Beyond science classes, he also exposed me to a lot great music at a formative period, including my favorite Beatles album, Rubber Soul.

– Chad M.
Manager, Customer Support

Mrs. Long – 2nd Grade Classroom and Piano

Mrs. Long knew my family really well since I saw her both in and outside of the classroom. While I probably couldn’t attribute any of my specific skills to her lessons (though I undoubtedly learned a lot from her!) what I remember her most fondly for is her kindness and how she cared for me and made me feel like an important human being. One specific moment with her that will stick with me forever was picture day at school. Mrs. Long knew that my mom was out of town for a few days and when I came to school with my dad’s failed attempt at a hairstyle (he really tried his best!), she kindly gestured me over to her desk, said “let’s fix your hair”, and tidied me up without even batting her eyes or allowing me any moment of embarrassment. What an incredible impact her kindness has had on me for nearly my entire life.

– Marianne W.
Product Marketing Manager

Steve Hinman – High School Band

Steve Hinman was a huge proponent in my musical journey and gave me both opportunities and recognition throughout my time in his program. He helped build a safe place, a stepping stone, and fostered a time of incredible growth in my life. It always meant a lot that he supported me and hired other fantastic music teachers to help all of us students become better musicians and people!

– Malia O.
Account Specialist

Nancy Buckel – High School Choir

I always felt at home in her class and she let me eat lunch in the choir room when I didn’t have anyone to sit with, which was fairly often. She was one of my best pals.

– Kelly O.
Data Analyst

Catherine Bobbs – Piano Teacher

I had Mrs. Bobbs as a piano teacher for 10 years until I graduated from high school. She was always so kind and encouraging even when she knew I didn’t practice like I should have. Her knowledge and passion for music was deep and she had a knack for bringing out the best performances in me and her other students. She ran a tight ship, had high expectations, but always carried herself with grace and a smile. I am proud to credit her as an influential teacher who sparked and grew my love for music.

– Alan M.
Digital Production Specialist

Jim Butz – Band

It was not enough to encourage creativity. He taught the value of persistence. Inspiration and follow-through.

– Ryan F.
Product Marketing Manager

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