Episode: It's Worth It: Directing in Rural Communities, with Dr. Marlen Dee Wilkins

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It's Worth It: Directing in Rural Communities, with Dr. Marlen Dee Wilkins

Life’s happy out in the sticks. It’s also hard, inconvenient, and sometimes lonely. But in this episode, Dr. Dee Wilkins talks to Ryan about why it’s worth it. There are real limitations in rural schools: numbers and funding will always be less than you want. But with creativity, heart, and an entrepreneurial mindset, you can still show you students a little bit of choral heaven. All twelve of them.

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Highlight to Tweet: “Imagine not having anyone within 45 minutes of your school who can play piano.” - Dr. Dee

“Life’s happy out in the sticks.” Dr. Dee Wilkins

Show Notes:
  • There are real limitations in rural schools: numbers and funding will always be less than you want. You just make it work.
  • There are also positives to working in rural schools: the interpersonal relationships with students are unmatched, you form close relationships with colleagues and administrators, and there is little to no red tape.
  • Teaching music in a rural town can be a lonely world.
  • Participate in collaborative events with other teachers. Learn from each other’s challenges and successes, and lean into their experiences to enrich your own.
  • Being involved in multi-school events allows small schools to find strength in numbers and perform repertoire that is otherwise beyond their reach. Don’t have an event nearby? Start one.
  • Students can learn from every choir director they get to work with.
  • A successful rural music program is all about the positive relationship you have with the students.
  • Students have to know they are going to be successful when they perform with you

For nearly 20 years Dr. Marlen Dee Wilkins has been teaching and directing Middle School, High School, Collegiate and Church choral ensembles. He holds degrees from Eastern Arizona College, Northern Arizona College, and the University of Northern Colorado. His current post is the Director of Vocal Music at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He and his wife Leisel are the proud parents of 8 beautiful children.

Resources/links Mentioned:


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