Ms. Alexander Accepts Full-Time Assistant Choir Director Position

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Ms. Alexander Accepts Full-Time Assistant Choir Director Position

By Anouka Saha, Morale Officer

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Ms. Jennifer Alexander became a full-time assistant director for the Westwood choir program this year, a promotion from her previous part-time position. In total, Ms. Alexander has been at Westwood for two years, ever since she was hired as part of the massive choir turnover and transferred away from Canyon Vista Middle School.

Becoming a choir director was never really a sudden decision for her — it was something that had been there through her entire life.

“I grew up in a family of musicians and choir directors. It was always around me. Teaching choral music, it’s just what we did,” Ms. Alexander said.

It took her a while to start doing it for a living however. Beforehand, she even dabbled in floral design.

“I was a young mother, and I watched a lot of Oprah. And Oprah told me, ‘You could do anything you want,’” Ms. Alexander said. “I decided that I loved flowers, and I loved design. I then did my very first wedding, and I was completely hooked.”

After ending that part of her career, she started working as a private voice teacher.

“I spent many years teaching voice lessons and working with students one on one,” Ms. Alexander said. “But I loved the group choral environment and decided to step into the classroom three years ago. I have never looked back.”

However, the time spent floral designing wasn’t completely different from working in a school environment. Both include elements of a performance.

“Whenever I would create fresh flower designs, they were over after [the event], and you threw them away,” Ms. Alexander said. “The same thing is a live music performance. It’s just experiencing that in the moment.”

The transition from part-time to full has been a different experience for her, since she no longer has to change schools throughout the day.

“I don’t have to drive between schools during the lunch hour. I get to have contact with all the students in the choir program, that’s the most important part,” Ms. Alexander said. “Last year was a challenge because I only had contact with about half the students.”

That’s not to say this new position is without its difficulties.

“There’s so much talent here, just figuring out how to challenge everyone is hard,” Ms. Alexander said.

There are many goals she hopes to accomplish over the course of this school year.

“I teach a class that has a lot of new students who have never been in choir before. [A goal] is for them to feel a part of the program and to grow as musicians,” Ms. Alexander said. “[Another] goal is to work on vocal technique with some of the varsity level choirs and just to continue growing as a program.”

To help the choirs grow more, Ms. Alexander is trying to help implement opportunities to work with other choir programs throughout the district.

“The more that we interact with other schools, the better, whether it’s middle schools, or other high schools,” Ms. Alexander said. “There can tend to be a lot of competition within high school programs, [but] since all the directors are good friends, there’s opportunity for collaboration. [The students] get to know one another and any preconceived notions are out the door. They’re just making music together.”

Although there are some things she misses about working part-time at Westwood and Canyon Vista, Ms. Alexander is glad to accept the full-time position.

“I did find it really challenging in a good way to be teaching middle school students and then have to turn a switch in my brain and teach high school students,” Ms. Alexander said. “I miss that, just a teeny bit. But still, I would definitely welcome the experiences of being here all day more so.”