Charilyne (rhymes with Marilyn!) is a musician, educator, nonprofit consultant & arts advocate. She achieved her Bachelors in Music Education from the University of North Texas, and holds a certificate in nonprofit management from the Dallas-based Center for Nonprofit Management.

Charilyne is passionate about Arts accessibility for all, quality education (including music) for every child, & the power of the performing arts to enhance schools & communities. With over a decade of teaching experience, she finds great joy in sharing the gifts of music with others and helping her students reach their musical goals. Charilyne believes that everyone deserves access to a quality education (including music) & opportunities for lifelong arts participation regardless of age, ability, or background.

What was your experience with GDYO?

I had an excellent experience learning under the baton of Mr. Frank in the Philharmonic Orchestra from 2004-2006. I loved playing in my school orchestra, but GDYO offered the extra challenge I needed, and I looked forward to creating symphonic music in those rehearsals every week. Through my experience, I also learned much more than new pieces and the names of new composers: I learned professionalism, accountability, and dedication. I only wish I had learned of GDYO much sooner!

What was one of your favorite memories from participating in GDYO?

One of my favorite GDYO memories was playing onstage at the Meyerson – I had already attended several concerts there and performed on that stage with my school orchestras growing up, but it sounded (and felt) so different with a full orchestra.

What performing arts experience and education did you have outside of GDYO?

I attended Poteet High School in Mesquite, where I was involved with both Theater Arts and Orchestra (I love the arts!) Before graduating in 2006, my musical activities aside from GDYO also included private lessons, serving as Orchestra president, and being a charter member of our school’s TFME chapter (Texas Future Music Educators).

How did you decide to pursue a career in music education?

My interest in music education was first sparked during my junior and senior years of high school when I tutored or practiced with the underclassmen to help them with their music. I was also very lucky to have had incredibly supportive orchestra directors growing up! I first learned I loved teaching kids in college, when I joined the UNT String Project where I taught weekly group lessons to Denton area students from grades 2-12. I loved it so much that I taught throughout my entire four years at UNT!

How did you choose the college that you attended?

I wanted to attend college in-state to get the best value for my education, and to have the ability to easily visit my parents who still live in Mesquite. I chose the University of North Texas because of their INCREDIBLE music education program and faculty!

What factors would you recommend prospective music education/performing arts students consider when choosing a school?  

I believe selecting a college/university ultimately comes down to personal preferences (cost, location, distance, school size and feel, etc.) But I would recommend music/performing arts students specifically to consider class sizes (teacher-student ratios can affect your learning needs), particular faculty you would like to learn from (both in your performing concentration and your major at large), ensemble/performance opportunities, and rehearsal facilities (where you will be spending a lot of time, no matter your major!)

Is there anything that you wish you knew before you pursued your education in music?

I like to say that teaching music is only half the job of a school music educator – the other half is arts administration! In many ways, running a school music program is a lot like running a small nonprofit. In retrospect, I wish there was more practical teacher training in aspects of the job like fundraising, booster club/parent development, event planning, and even marketing. In addition to pedagogy and the essential student teaching experience, having more knowledge about these areas of the job before entering the classroom as a head director would have been beneficial (or at least easier than the sink-or-swim method!)

Tell us about your career now – what you are currently up to?

Currently, I offer in-home private lessons and academic tutoring within the Dallas area through my business Siegel Strings & Tutoring. I also freelance as a violinist when my schedule allows, and I work with two local arts nonprofits: I serve on the Verdigris Ensemble’s Board of Directors as the Community Outreach Chair and I serve GDYO as the Alumni Committee Chair. I’m looking forward to hosting an amazing Homecoming event with the Alumni Committee in October, and keeping our alumni connected to GDYO throughout the year!

How do you feel that GDYO prepared you for your career as a teacher/professional musician?  

Aside from exposing me to mature literature, GDYO most helped prepare me for a career in music by teaching me professionalism and leadership. Working with professional conductors and coaches in fast-paced, hardworking rehearsals prepared me for leading a fast-paced middle school classroom. The high quality expectations of musicianship prepared me to keep high standards for my own students, and never settle for less. And just when things got too serious, Mr. Frank always knew how to throw in a joke and keep things light – a great reminder for all music educators to keep your sense of humor in the classroom, because music making is supposed to be fun!

What unique challenges and rewards come from working as a music educator?

In my experience, the greatest challenges I faced as a music educator were not pedagogy-based, but rather organization, time management, and setting consistent systems and processes in my classroom (kids need consistency!) Having those fundamental routines in place helps make teaching much smoother and more enjoyable for you, and believe it or not you can spice up routines to make it fun for the kids too! The greatest rewards? Feeling appreciated by the parents, administrators, and fellow staff, but most importantly from my students. After all the long hours of practice and preparation that goes into every performance, my favorite moments were always after the concerts – congratulating the kids, recognizing their progress, and taking pride in their performance no matter how it went.

Who are your musical inspirations?

My biggest musical inspiration is the violin virtuoso, Itzhak Perlman. Perhaps because he also plays violin, but more so because he overcame adversity (including polio) to become one of the greatest musicians in history. I first saw him perform and conduct live at the Meyerson as a young girl, and I remember being captivated from the choral terrace. He also seems like he would be a fun teacher—firm without taking himself too seriously—and just a fun guy to hang out with too!

What ranks among your favorite achievements in your career and why?

Consistent UIL sweepstakes, best in class awards, and other honors are excellent goals to reach and great motivators for kids. But to be honest, the achievement I’m proudest of during my 7 years in the classroom was not any of those awards – it was more than doubling the enrollment size of our program. The awards helped as everyone wants to be part of a “winning” team, but my greatest joy came from hearing my students share their love for Orchestra to recruit their friends! I was able to see students graduate from my program and then teach their brothers and sisters the next year. I enjoyed staying connected to my alumni who proudly and graciously returned to help me tape instruments at the beginning of the year, or size incoming students for their instruments at our annual “Spring String Fling”. Alumni can be our greatest advocates, which is why I’m happy to be helping GDYO with their alumni efforts!

How can the reality of a career in music differ from typical expectations?

I believe artists (including musicians of all kinds) are naturally passionate people – but the reality in creating a sustainable career in music, rather than an amateur hobby, is that your work ethic must exceed your passion. Of course you need to be passionate about your music—whether you are writing it, performing it, or teaching it—in order to stay motivated and creative, but failure is a natural part of life and of work, so without a resilient work ethic, your passion can’t become a reality. I’ve never agreed with the saying “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!” because to me, it’s those moments of overcoming struggle, sweat, and perseverance which make every performance a special experience, unique to the musicians. One of my favorite parts about teaching is the magical lightbulb moment, when it clicks for a student and I feel a sense of pride in their own accomplishment!

Do you have any advice for students thinking about a career in music education?

I will never forget what Mr. Karrell Johnson, my string education professor at UNT, asked us on our first day of class: “Do you like kids?” While it might sound like a silly question, there are a surprising number of teachers out there who don’t enjoy working with kids! If you want to teach music to students at the elementary/secondary levels, be prepared to be patient, repetitive, firm, and nurturing. Every child makes mistakes, but each child also has a different personality and learning style, so you can’t treat them all the same. It’s true: teaching children is difficult work sometimes, but it is such a personally rewarding experience to watch your students grow as musicians and young people in the process. Music is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?

Some of my professional goals include achieving an arts-based Master’s Degree and a PhD in Education Policy, then using my combined practice and experiences to help music and arts programs thrive in their communities. Some of my personal goals include memorizing all of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for violin, reading one new book a month, becoming a better Jewish cook, getting my group fitness certification, and learning to be an excellent mother to our daughter due in February 2019!