New choir director Timothy Havis taught for three years in Edwardsville and student taught for previous WGHS choir director Scott Kinworthy in the spring of 2012.
Havis came here from a graduate program in Portland where he taught two choirs and co-conducted another. After coming back five years later, he was quite excited to see the new building, as well as getting back to working with high school students.
Havis said, “Teaching college students was nice, but I like the high school age group better. I like this level of music a little bit better, and to come to a program that has such a history of excellence has been really awesome. I’m still getting to know Webster and have really appreciated how welcoming the community has been.”
About what his biggest challenge joining our school district has been, Havis said, “It’s taken me awhile to get to know each of the groups. A lot of them are really large classes, and it’s really hard to get one on one time with them and to get to know each student.”
Recently, though, Havis said he feels he’s started to build a larger connection with each individual through discussing goals and just overall conversation.
Havis said, “It can be hard to develop those relationships, but I think we’re on our way to doing that.”
Havis’ mother has played piano since she was 16, and his father messed around with the guitar when he was younger and was actually in a band when he was a teenager.
“I grew up in the church, so there was always some type of music going on,” Havis said.
Havis started getting involved in choir in middle school and credits a lot of his inspiration to his “excellent” high school choir teacher.
Havis concluded, “All of that inspired to me to pursue music education. Specifically choral music education, I think it’s something really cool that can’t be created by just one person. You need a group of people, it’s a group effort, and it’s really nice sense of community for anyone who’s involved.”
Havis was raised in Edwardsville and attended Millikin University in Decatur, Il., and he wanted somewhere to student teach that was close to home. About a year beforehand, the Webster choir had visited Millikin, and he had heard it was a great program, so that’s what drew him to student teach in here in back in 2012.
One of Havis’ main goals this year is to help students get better at reading music.
Havis said, “A lot of the students want to get better at reading music, and not just the singing aspect, but actually reading the language. The music that’s printed in front of them. That’s always been a big goal of mine, to help develop that music literacy, being able to read music and interpret music, and not just do it all by ear.”
Another goal of his is to create a set of fun performances.
Havis said, “The other goal I have for the students is just being able to provide them with really rewarding performance experiences. Whether that’s collaborating with other ensembles or just understanding the music and being able to connect with our audience, and do the music justice. Give the composer what they had intended when they wrote that music.”
When he’s not in the classroom, Havis likes to spend time with his family, and binge watching “Game of Thrones.” His favorite genre of music is American folk.
About Havis’s plans for changing the music programs, he said “I’ve thought about a couple of things. I don’t wanna quite reveal my secrets yet. I wanna respect the traditions this school has, while continuing to develop this program and meet the student’s needs.”
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