Once students move on from the Tucson Youth Music, they occasionally pursue careers in music. One TYM alumna is doing her best to encourage Tucson Unified School District pupils to follow along.
Joanna Hoover, the orchestra director at Mary Beth McCorkle Academy of Excellence, was inspired to become a musician during her days as a TYM violin student.
In 2008, Joanna’s mother was looking for a violin teacher for her daughter. One of the other mothers in her homeschool group suggested that the family look into TYM. They did and liked what they saw; Joanna went on to become part of the program until she graduated from high school in 2014.
“The level of instruction that I got at TYM was great,” Joanna said. “I was given lots of repertoire that challenged me and helped me to reach a higher level in my playing and performance. I was also given multiple performance opportunities that helped me have a better presence when playing my violin.”
The experience and confidence she gained enabled her to successfully audition for a spot in the University of Arizona School of Music. She graduated in 2018 with a degree in music education.
“Being involved with TYM helped me to decide what career I wanted to pursue after graduating from high school,” she said. “I enjoyed playing my violin and had outside opportunities with teaching, so I was encouraged to pursue music education.”
In her last college semester, Joanna served as a student teacher at Mary Belle McCorkle. At the end of the school year, the orchestra director took another teaching job and Joanna was hired as her replacement.
Robin Leebardt, the school’s band director, said Joanna was a great choice.
“She’s very quiet, but she knows what she wants,” Robin said. “The saying ‘still waters run deep’ definitely applies to her. She and I are constantly talking with and texting each other to discuss what’s working and not working.”
The two work closely together at McCorkle, a school where students remain in the same classroom with the same teacher all day. Music programs are a bit different; Joanna and Robin teach other schools in the morning and instruct at McCorkle in the afternoon. The school’s team teaching approach fosters familiarity among instructors and students.
“The things I learned at TYM play a role in my job now by showing me that community is important,” Joanna said. “To have a community, you need to establish good relationships with those around you and work hard to achieve any goal that you have for yourself to be successful.”
The music programs at McCorkle are gaining interest. Joanna’s student count has more than doubled in her time there.
“Kids like being in orchestra and they like her,” Robin said.
Joanna points back to her years at TYM as the groundwork for her success. She wants to serve as an example for the program and her advice to parents of potential students is simple.
“I would tell them to sign up for lessons and to take advantage of the opportunity that TYM offers for their children to learn an instrument,” she said.
If you were a TYM student and would like to become involved in our Alumni Group, please contact TYM President and CEO Dana Wier at 855-MUSICAZ.