‘Notable’ teacher named Orchestra Director of the Year
Shrewsbury – Kathy LeBouef comes from a singing lineage. One set of grandparents sang all the time. Growing up, the rest of her family sang constantly too. With music being such an important part of her heritage, it was no shock that she beamed when her firstgrade teacher chose her to play symbols in a rhythm stick band concert. LeBouef ’s excitement about music propelled her to learn violin in grade school, continue with instruments through college, earn a music education degree and then become a teacher. She ended up in the Shrewsbury school system where she was a student. In March, LeBouef was named 2010 Orchestra Director of the Year by the American String Teacher’s Association’s Massachusetts chapter.
Having taught music in Shrewsbury for the last 18 years, LeBouef currently instructs students at Spring Street School and directs the string orchestras at Oak Middle School. She built a complete string program, devising a curriculum for the schools that fuses orchestral methodology and string instrument pedagogy. LeBouef previously taught at a middle school in New York, where she started an honors string orchestra that still thrives today.
Besides her classroom work, LeBouef helped develop the second and third Suzuki School Double Bass books. She also was the double bass coordinator, guest performer, conference presenter, moderator and master class clinician at the Suzuki Association of the Americas International Conferences in Chicago. LeBouef has coordinated orchestra festivals and has written for and edited music publications. Additionally, she’s hosted teachers from abroad in her home, and brought them into her Shrewsbury classroom, so they could learn from her methods.
LeBouef ’s ties to music are augmented by family support. An aunt who attended her firstgrade symbol debut still lovingly recants a family lore of Kathy being “the crasher.” LeBouef ’s parents, her cousins, siblings, cousin’s cousin and other relatives are on her list of musical influences.
Her list also includes her music teachers, especially “Mrs. Richardson,” who taught her violin in grades four and five, and who showed her the importance of groundwork. LeBouef now loves to transfer those lessons to the beginners she teaches, giving them proper initial techniques that they can use as a foundation for their own musical futures.
After 27 years of teaching music, LeBouef has no plans to retire. Even in high-school days, when contemplating what she’d do with her future, she felt wholeheartedly that music was something she couldn’t give up. She loves what she does, and she finds it uplifting.
“One day [recently while teaching at school] I was just feeling extremely tired at the beginning of the day, which is pretty unusual,” she said, “and I got into a class and we’re doing something, and all of a sudden I come out energized and I’m like, ‘Thanks, kids and music.’”
LeBouef believes kids who take music are more wellrounded. Although her material is not covered on the MCAS exam, she believes learning music is an essential factor of learning about people and life.
“If my students can appreciate Dvorak or music from another culture, when they grow up, they can appreciate these people and learn from their history what should and shouldn’t happen,” LeBouef said.
LeBouef was pleased to be chosen for the annual award. “It was a big honor,” she said, “I got the call and I was like, ‘Whoa, you’ve got to be kidding me.’” She was touched that so many of her friends applauded her and praised her work at the ceremony.
Aside from passing along music appreciation to her students, LeBouef is perpetuating the music bloodline of her family. Her adult daughters, Kate and Amanda, are both cellists. Still, as important as music is in her life, she said, it’s her husband, Ray, and her daughters who truly orchestrate her heart.
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