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As a little girl, I attended Mt. Pleasant Elementary School in West Orange, NJ. My strongest memories are of my music class with Miss Kilgore. This young, dedicated teacher planted the seed in my soul for my lifelong love for classical music. Each month, she would explore the works and lives of one of the great composers with us. Hearing the Slavonic Dances of Dvorak, Royal Fireworks of Handel and Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens stirred up unprecedented feelings of yearning in me. I can still feel in my fingers the construction paper bookmarks with composer's faces she awarded as prizes if we got a high score on the monthly composer quiz.
Miss Kilgore is the only teacher I've had who explained the concept of "program music" and how composers could wield their tools to conjure up images of animals, war, nobility, etc. in our minds. It was only as an adult, when I realized that not all of my friends knew that Bach wrote during the Baroque era, or that Dvorak was influenced by American folk songs, that I began to understand the great fortune that I had in having a regular music class in elementary school. I am not a musician by profession, but am a dedicated amateur pianist. I believe that the level of commitment that I have to my art energizes me like nothing else in my life, and inspires the people in my life. The seed that Miss Kilgore planted in me over 30 years ago has steadily grown into a hearty plant from which the harvests have been innumerable and immeasurable.