Veteran Ravenswood High School music teacher/choral director Joyce Good-Pitchford has been featured in “Choral Director” magazine’s January, 2013 issue as one of 13 “Choral Directors of Note” from across the nation.
A total of 13 exemplary directors are featured in the magazine. They were selected by the Choral Director magazine staff from nominations and recommendations submitted by readers, music educators, choir directors, administrators and staff and music students over the past year. The report recognizes “outstanding music educators who represent a slice of some of the vibrant, impactful and thriving people and programs in vocal music education today.”
Pitchford isn’t exactly sure who nominated her, but there’s no doubt the honor and recognition is well-deserved.
Pitchford is a 39-year veteran music educator with all 39 of her years as a staff member at Ravenswood High School, where she has impacted literally thousands of students in her chorus, concert choirs, show choirs and instrumental music classes.
Her Chamber Singers and Rave Revue show choirs have won state championships, national competition awards and a slue of trophies over the years, building a solid reputation of showmanship, choreography and musical excellence that is recognized beyond county and state boundaries. She has produced a long line of All-State Chorus and All-State Chamber Choir honorees.
“I could easily say whenever hotel management tells me at the end of an overnight stay for a competition that my choral kids were the best high school students that they had ever had stay with them—that is better than a first place trophy in a choral competition,” said Pitchford in regard to her proudest moment as a music educator.
“There are so many proud moments, but if I had to decide on one, it would probably be whenever I see the faces of my singers when they know at the end of a song during a rehearsal that they have just done something musical with their voices: It is always a moment when no one breathes or moves in fear that they will break the spell of the moment.”
Pitchford says she has a goal to open up the wonderful world of music to each of her students.
“I want them to go beyond the small boundaries of Ravenswood, and experience the wealth of choral music, choirs, musicals, performers and so on that we have available to enjoy and appreciate,” she says. “If one of them decides to pursue music as a career, then that is icing on the cake.”
But she says her main goal is to equip young people with the tools they need to succeed in 21st century America.
Page 2 of 2 - “I want them each to be able to communicate, to be involved with community activities, to make a difference in someone else’s life, to be a team player, a motivator, and a caretaker of other students,” Pitchford adds. “I want students to be able to manage their time, to set short and long-term goals, and to contribute to society for allowing them to receive a good education. Every one of these goals can be the result of being in a choral program that cares, and I hope that is what I have been able to develop at this school.”
Pitchford says music educators must be willing to go beyond the eight-hour work day.
“It cannot be accomplished without meeting with students beyond a 50-minute class period,” says the veteran educator. “You cannot look at being a vocal teacher as a job. I have had a ‘love affair’ with my ‘occupation’ for the past 39-plus years. If my body could stand it, I would still be here 39 years from now. We teach music because we love music and our kids, not because we love the money.”