New conductor, music instructor joins college
Rhonda Rhodes, the new conductor and music instructor at USU Eastern, made the decision of a lifetime when she was barely a teenager.
"I just loved playing the instruments, so I decided when I was in ninth grade that I would be a music teacher," she says. And so she did.
Along with her degrees in music education and instrumental conducting, she has also mastered what amounts to the woodwind section of a band or orchestra - saxophone, oboe, English Horn, clarinet and flute, with some piano, organ and brass added to round things out.
Speaking of instruments, she calls the oboe "a humbling instrument. You listen to good players, but when you first play it you find you don't sound anything like that."
She kept up with her performing through college at Utah State University, where she earned a BA in Music Education. She also has a Masters in Instrumental Conducting from Northern Arizona University, and is ABD (All But Dissertation) on her Ph.D. from Boston U.
She spent 25 years teaching music in the Washington County School District and was a part-time instructor at Dixie State University in St. George before coming to Price.
Rhodes has come aboard as the only full-time instructor in the college music department, a position which is fine with her.
"There's lots to be done," she states. The work has already begun on assembling the choir and orchestra for the traditional community performance of Messiah Dec. 8.
But Rhodes intends the music program to go beyond that. "I'm hungry for performances," she declares. She wants to see more musical members of the community involved in performing and teaching. She's looking for ensembles to grow and expand.
She has been a part of the evolution and growth at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts, where she has worked as a woodwind player in performances of Broadway musicals. She conducted seven of those performances.
During her decades of learning and teaching, Rhodes has concluded that music should be considered an integral part of school curriculum. When she was teaching, "I loved to have administrators come and watch the level of engagement among the students," she says.
Music, in all its genres, is something that is universally enjoyed, no matter whether a listener knows something about the art or not, Rhodes commented.
She says it is particularly rewarding to teach beginning band to sixth and seventh graders. "You get to watch the process of discovery."