Mentorship key to band teacher’s award
Education: Kathie Van Lare receives honour named after her friend and instructor
Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 06:00 am
The mentor has received an award named after her own mentor.
Kathie Van Lare, the conductor of the Foothills Music Society concert band and an instructor at Calgary’s Centennial High School, was the recipient of the Vondis Miller Legacy Award at the Music Conference Alberta Awards on Oct. 27 in Red Deer.
She is a well-deserving winner of the award recognizing an individual who has devoted many years to sharing the joy of making music with young people, said Holy Trinity Academy music instructor Martin Kennedy.
“She has produced more young teachers than any other supervisor teacher that I know of,” Kennedy said. “She puts out good teachers.”
Van Lare, who lives in the Okotoks area, developed her spark for helping young musicians from her mentor — a guy by the name of Vondis Miller.
“It’s very humbling and very gratifying,” Van Lare said. “Dr. Vondis Miller was a mentor of mine way back when I was at the University of Calgary… He was a very kind man and encouraging and recognized hard work and ability, but he was also one to not be shy and say: ‘Hey that can be better’, which I appreciated too.
“He is a big part of why what I am doing is what I am doing.”
What she is doing is bringing the joy of music to students — both young and old.
“I love music and I like helping people,” Van Lare said. “I believe passionately in what music education does. Music education brings personal responsibility, camaraderie, teamwork and we are creating something beautiful at the same time.”
She has been teaching music for 29 years — including a two-year, part-time stint with the Mainstage program at the Alberta High School of Fine Arts, where she focused on musical theatre orchestra.
The thrill from teaching is the same, regardless if it is a squeaking clarinetist to near symphony orchestra players.
“The joy is when they are successful, when they turn into confident young people, problem solvers critical thinkers and once again they are working with beauty,” she said.
She has turned into a mentor, taking in student-teachers at Centennial.
“The university approached me as I got longer in the tooth asking if we could help out,” Van Lare said. “It started way back when with Vondis helping me. I feel it’s a responsibility.”
One of those student teachers helped by Van Lare is Brianne Gruber, the band instructor at St. John Paul II Collegiate.
“I got to do my practicum with her for a year,” Gruber said. “She was an amazing teacher that I got to learn how to teach with, rather than just being a student.”
The shy Gruber got nudged early by Van Lare to be more confident.
“From day one of my practicum, she pushed me to come out of my shell,” Gruber said. “She challenged me to be myself and be a bit more outgoing.
“Of course, I was scared… but she expected that if I was going to be in front of her kids, nothing but the best would happen…She has such an amazing relationship with her students.”
Van Lare can be seen regularly in the Okotoks area as the conductor of the Foothills Music Society concert band. Many of its members are former students. There is one added bonus to conducting former students.
“I don’t have to worry about report card marks — no grading, just enjoying music,” she said.
She conducts the concert band, but she also plays bass in the society’s jazz band under the direction of Martin Kennedy.