Meet our Music Teachers of the Year, Shelley Couch and John Thomas
Shelley Couch currently serves as music educator for Central Elementary School in Seagoville, Texas. Mrs. Couch received her Bachelor of Music Education from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. John Thomas came to Texas in 1982 after graduating with a B.S. in Music from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. Mr. Thomas currently teaches at Seagoville North Elementary.Read More
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Young Musicians teacher
Young Strings teacher & alumnus
Iāve been working for Young Musicians since the summer of 2019, and Iāve also been teaching for Young Strings since December 2020. I love the openness to learn as well as the great enthusiasm that comes alongside that. I love how both programs have created such a wonderful community of musicmaking. I feel great satisfaction in seeing the students at the beginning of their musical education, and guiding them like I was guided by great teachers at their age. The serious study of music empowers the individual to reach their intellectual and artistic potential through the means of playing an instrument. The analytical skills and pattern recognition required to study music is a wonderful brain exercise. The critical thinking, creativity and hard work that is required to play music shapes the individual for the better, and is a greatly positive force. It continues to be an honor for me to teach with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Young Strings teacher
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Associate Principal Second Violin
My experience with music education started at an early age. My father, a music education PhD., wrote his doctoral dissertation about orchestra beginner classes in the inner-city area of Phoenix, Arizona, during the 1960s. He had one wealthy public school orchestra, and one underfunded public school orchestra, often combining them and creating an āall districtā orchestra that rehearsed after school and performed frequently in the community. This program leveled the playing field for all students, while centering teamwork and collaboration. I have been working with this groundbreaking, nationally recognized Young Strings scholarship program through the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for 30 years. I was married to the Young Strings founder, Dwight Shambley, and have been involved with the program since its inception in 1992. While Dwight was the only African-American DSO member, I was the first Hispanic and Asian DSO member of the violin section. The Young Strings program teaches and guides its scholars to learn, pursue and obtain the principles and skills required to complete their education. It gives these outstanding and dedicated students opportunities to pursue careers in classical music and music education on a professional level. Over the past 30 years, 100% of Young Strings students have graduated from high school. All of the teachers and instructors in Young Strings are either members of the DSO or are outstanding music educators in our school systems. Witnessing the growth of the phenomenally talented and committed students drives me to continue teaching. With their chosen instrument, they go from beginner to advanced levels of proficiency that rivals their peers that may be from more financially or socially privileged environments. Placing underrepresented or lower income household students on the same playing field as others provides a greater level of diversity and unity that only music can give! If a Young Strings senior chooses to graduate and pursue a career in law or engineering, for example, they can still put the discipline and nurturing of their Young Strings experience to great use. With us, they learned how to perform under pressure, to pursue their dreams with determination and commitment and to achieve the stamina required to reach their goals at the university level and beyond. Each student is held to a higher responsibility and must perform at adjudicated juries and recitals, keep their school grades up and are given opportunities to perform in their communities as well as competitions. Music education provides our communities with a safe, growing environment that involves singing, rhythm, dancing, composition, ear training, conducting and playing instruments, allowing everyone to feel uplifted, motivated and inspired. The DSO is to be applauded for its dedication to education, both individually, and as a team-sport, for the present, and for the future. The future of classical music is now, in programs like Young Strings and Kim Noltemy Young Musicians.
Young Strings teacher & alumnus
I have been working for the Young Strings program since 2016, but my journey began as a Young Strings student myself. The program allows underrepresented kids, such as myself, to find a supportive community as well as mentors that offer love and encouragement. This upcoming fall will be my sixth year of teaching. I love that our program allows me to have an individual connection with students, and allows each student to have a unique learning experience. I attribute my drive as an educator to watching my students grow into passionate and dedicated cellists. It warms my heart to hear them make beautiful music and see them have so much interest in and love for the cello. Music education is vital to our community because it allows kids to find their own voice. Young Strings allows kids to learn confidence, time management and allows them to all kinds of world experiences. After all, music is an international language.