Lori Underwood

Story by Joe Vinduska

Musicians can become a professional performer with a college music degree, but there are more options out there for people who want to work with music everyday but may not necessarily want to be a performer.

Lori Underwood

Lori Underwood, a choral music teacher from Ottawa, Kan., who also serves as the head of the Fine Arts Department, has been in music education for 25 years.

She said her career has magical moments.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing growth in my students,” she said. “I love watching and hearing a piece of music develop from the first read to the first performance and seeing how the students take ownership of their learning and turn the notes on the page into something beautiful and meaningful.”

Underwood said music is a very personal thing and to be able to make a career out of it is a special opportunity. She encourages students to get involved in music in as many ways as possible so they can see all the different aspects of potential music careers.

“Whether you are a music teacher, a composer, a recording artist, or a sound engineer, you are using the most intimate of feelings and emotions,” she said. “It is not easy, but it is definitely worthwhile. I feel like I not only teach students about music and how to make music, but in the process, they learn about being more human, and about being better humans. I think we need more of that in our world today.”

Marc Webster

Marc Webster

Marc Webster, a former band director for 34 years from Great Bend, said the camaraderie he developed with students is very fulfilling.

“You get to work with students through many years as opposed to only a year as a traditional teacher, so you get to know them very well and have a connection with them,” he said. “It can be stressful, but it’s very rewarding. I enjoy making an impact in young peoples’ lives and teaching them that hard work will pay off. The joy of succeeding at something is worth the effort and time you put into it.”

Randy Button

Randy Button has found a career in music at the Larned State Mental Hospital as a Music Therapist. He has worked there since 2011 and enjoys being able to use his talents in a nurturing way by giving lessons, playing music for the patients and other musical activities.

Randy Button

“I like helping people, I love music and being able to share what I like about music with other folks and seeing that help them deal with their diagnosis whatever it might be,” he said.  “We teach them to use music as a coping mechanism to deal with their mental health challenges.  It helps calm them down or distracts them when they may be having a tough time. I have people tell me all the time, ‘I’m sure glad you’re here,’ and I get a lot of satisfaction helping people in that way.”

For more information on the Barton Music Program, contact Director of Choral Activities Sara Oberle at [email protected] or (620) 792-9395 or Director of Instrumental Activities Dr. Luis Palacios at [email protected] or (620) 792-9396.

This story is part of a series celebrating Academics Month through November, which highlights Barton’s various academic programs through events, stories, social media posts and more. Visit bartonccc.edu/academicsmonth for more information.