The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Rachel Sigmundstad
The Courier 

Teaching to the Highest Degree without a Degree

 

January 2, 2019

Georgie Kulczyk / The Courier

The Glasgow High School Swing Choir pictured at their 2018 Fall Concert. Back row (l-r): Colton Pewitt, Vincent Chappell, Trevor Johnson and Austin Babb. Third row (l-r): Isabelle Griffin, Aurora Chappell and Devon Sexton-Nesbitt. Second row (l-r): Nicole Lippert, Brooklyn Schmidt and Cerenity Olsen. Front (l-r): Hannah Anderson, Ellie Page and Kambria Ross.

When I sat down to interview Luree Green-Chappell in her home over Christmas break, we met in her dining room amidst a flurry of dogs and kids. Green-Chappell is the Swing Choir director at Glasgow High School, the accompanist for the middle and high school choirs, and a recurring music director/band leader at Fort Peck Summer Theatre. Looking around her house, it is no secret that music plays a large part in her life. The walls are lined with musical instruments and memorabilia with the dining table sitting opposite a keyboard.

Music has always been a large part of her life. Green-Chappell's grandparents were all musicians, and it passed down through the family. Despite her passion and devotion to music now, she remembers crying at the piano for a couple hours every day when it came time to practice.

These days, Green-Chappell spends her time guiding others through their own practice. She loves getting to work with high school students because of how open they are to change and weird ideas, but she wishes they could reach a wider audience because her students have a voice that she believes resonates with a much larger demographic.

One of the most satisfying things about her job is setting high expectations for her students and having them consistently exceed them. When I asked about her current group, she said they are, "Vocally one of the strongest choirs I've ever gotten to work with. They take direction really well and are very open to trying a lot of new things including choreography and songwriting. They are quickly understanding theory and sight reading, and I think they genuinely just like to work hard and be together." The Swing Choir recently debuted four original Christmas songs that were written, arranged, and recorded all by the students and Green-Chappell. Green-Chappell is passionate about composing and arranging, and she particularly enjoys orchestral pieces. You can hear some of her work by visiting the GHS Swing Choir Facebook page, where you will also find updates on when their Christmas songs will be available for purchase.

Swing Choir was a club when Green-Chappell began as the accompanist, and she eventually took over when the previous director left. Working together, she and former GHS principal Marge Markle found a way to turn Swing Choir into a class worth half a credit a year and eventually into a full one-credit class. While she didn't originally set out to be a teacher and never attained a teaching degree, she has now been working with Swing Choir for 15 years. In those years, she believes her most significant accomplishment has been the annual Ridge Runners show. "It's a yearly fundraiser we put on to benefit Swing Choir. We write the entire show, arrange all the horns and guitars, and throw a live dinner show with dancing, in association with the Cottonwood, and accept donations to keep our class going. We also get local musicians to play in the show. It really stretches me as a musician and arranger." When I asked for a sneak peak at the lineup for Ridge Runners 2019, she said they would be sticking to the formula of mixing classic country and rock with new music. They are hoping to have some surprising duets this year which will make everyone, "giggle and fall in love all over again." She didn't say much about the music selection, but said the show will feature music by Prince, Billie Eilish, and Dolly Parton and that anyone who wanted to know more should come see the show on May 16.

Courtesy Photo / For the Courier

Luree Green-Chappell

While she plays mainly piano, Green-Chappell dabbles in guitar, mandolin, wind instruments, accordion, and whatever is thrown at her, in addition to her work as a composer/arranger. When I asked what in the world she can't do, she responded, "I don't like to keep plants alive (I can confirm this is her weakness as I had just watered the philodendron she keeps on her dining table), make small talk, or do laundry." When she isn't playing music, Green-Chappell says she cooks, cleans, and snuggles her puppies.

Green-Chappell said she is always surprised by how much more she has to learn about music no matter how much knowledge she has gained over the years, and she encourages anyone who is considering doing music as a hobby or career to just do it because, even if you fail, you will have amazing new memories and experiences. She especially believes we should open up opportunities for kids to be involved in the arts. "When we empower kids in music and the arts they become better humans in life. They are more patient, they are more willing to help each other, and they're better problem solvers. Music is something you can do for the rest of your life."

 

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