Orchestra, 5th and 6th GradesLucile Kellis
Hello. I am Lucile Kellis. I teach orchestra in the Chandler Unified School District. I am a traveling teacher because I teach at multiple schools every day. I teach around two hundred 5th and 6th grade students each year.
I started taking violin lessons from my grandmother the summer before my 5th grade year in school. At that time, my grandmother gave me her extra violin. I already knew how to play the piano proficiently, having begun piano lessons in the first grade. For my 5th and 6th grade years, my school, Gilbert Elementary School, did not have a school orchestra—only a school band. So I played the clarinet in the band and took private lessons on piano and violin.
At the beginning of my 7th grade year, our family moved from Gilbert to Mesa where there was a school orchestra. So, for the first time, I played in an orchestra with lots of other kids. Orchestra was my favorite class of the day all through my three junior high school years. I continued to take private piano lessons during this time, but my clarinet sat in the closet untouched.
In high school, I was blessed to attend a school that had “the best high school orchestra west of the Mississippi”. Our orchestra was large and we performed advanced repertoire—equal to a community orchestra. At every festival we attended, we received the highest rating and were often invited to perform at the close of the festival as the most outstanding group participating.
And, I continued to take private piano lessons. I performed in piano festivals and competitions and recitals—always with the music memorized. When I was a senior in high school, my private teacher at ASU helped me learn a piano concerto which I performed with my high school orchestra.
When it was time for college, I was awarded a music scholarship to study piano performance. However, I loved playing the violin so much that I also took private violin lessons and performed with the university symphony orchestra. My freshman year, away from home, between practicing the piano and violin every day for multiple hours, I practically lived in the practice rooms. And, I performed well and got good performing grades.
However, I could see that if I continued that path, I would never have a social life. So I changed my major at the university to elementary education with an emphasis in special education. And it only took another year before I got married.
When I got married, I stopped going to college and I had lots of kids—six of them: three girls and three boys. I was blessed to be a full-time mom, but I taught private piano and violin lessons in the afternoons in my home.
In 1989, I began Suzuki Violin Method training in the summers. I am registered through Book 6 with the international organization. I taught private Suzuki violin lessons in my home for almost twenty years. My students excelled and were outstanding, often winning first chair placements in the youth symphony, honor orchestras, and Regional and All-State festivals.
As my own children got older and started going off the college, serving missions for our church, and getting married, I decided to pursue and finish my college degree in music. It had been thirty years since I had gone to school, but when I auditioned for the ASU School of Music, I was accepted. I reached my goal to graduate from college at the same time that my youngest child graduated from high school. We have a picture of both of us in our cap and gown.
After graduation, I was hired to teach in the Chandler Unified School District for the 2005-06 school year and I have been teaching here ever since. During the ensuing years, I also earned my master degree in music education from ASU with a strings concentration.
My orchestras are known for their excellent performances. I teach my students to present themselves with poise on stage by wearing nice clothes, sitting with good playing posture, holding their bows correctly, putting their fingers in precisely the correct place on the fingerboard, and bowing graciously after each selection on the concert. All of this further contributes to beautiful sound production. I am usually very proud of my students’ performances.
Presently I have been married to my husband for forty years. We have six children and sixteen grandchildren, with two more on the way. All of our children know how to play the piano plus one other instrument and sing well. Some of our grandchildren also play instruments and sing.
My interests include sewing on my sewing machine, doing nice things for others, attending my husband’s high school award-winning robotics competitions, and attending anything my children and grandchildren are doing. (My oldest grandson, age 13 1/2, just earned his Eagle Scout award and I recently attended my second oldest grandson’s—age 13—orchestra concert in Utah.) I enjoy fixing lots of food and inviting my local family members over for a large Sunday dinner once a month. I serve in my church, sing and play the piano in my church choir, and attend church meetings regularly.
I love teaching children to play orchestral instruments. I consider my teaching as a partnership with parents as we encourage our students to practice regularly at home and bring their instrument and music to school on the correct days for orchestra class. If my students will try their best to do as I instruct, they will learn to play well. This will bring joy and happiness to themselves and to their family members for their entire life.
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