Thank Your Music Teacher


Coming from New York City to sing with the Chattanooga Symphony for the Holiday Pops, Scott Coulter was coming home. Coming home to Chattanooga where his musical journey began.

Scott announced to the audience, “Is Jan Johnson in the house? Jan was my first crush and she was my first music teacher.” Scott had not seen Jan in decades, but clearly her influence and gentle guidance into the world of music helped shape Scott’s life and career.

After the concert I watched Jan run up to Scott and they hugged each other. That truly warmed my heart but it also was bitter sweet because it reminded me I never got a chance to thank my elementary school teacher for what she introduced me to.

Scott and Jan
Scott Coulter and Jan Johnson see each other again for the first time since Scott was an elementary school student in Jan’s music classes.

Elementary general music is such an important class. Not only does it introduce kids into the beginning of music appreciation, but it helps with the simplest things like coordination. Being a klutzy kid myself, learning to walk and run to the beat of a drum was a far better physical education than the actual P.E. classes.

I’m inviting everyone to join me in finding our former music teachers and sending them a note of thanks. Thanks for the encouragements, thanks for the fun, thanks for the understanding, thanks for the help in expressing through music what words never could, and thanks for sharing the art.

Please send your teachers a letter, but feel free to share a letter or a story to this blog too and I’ll post it in a follow up article. I think it’s important to show just how much we all gained from music teachers no matter if you went into a musical career or not!

Here’s my letter, although I am fairly certain it is too late to send it to this teacher.

Dear Mrs. Howard,

Thank you for keeping your music class so engaging! I always looked forward to music class because each time there was something new explore. Whether it was a new rhythm to clap or a new xylophone to play, we were always captivated. I especially enjoyed when you’d play music on the record player and share a story about the work. To this date, I can still see the green fibers on the rug I sat on as we listened to Scheherazade. You shared the stories of each movement which absolutely captivated my imagination. Getting to my imagination was perhaps the only way I was reached during those early years, and probably why music was so important in my life from that point on. So thank you for giving me the gift I carry with me every day I live.

Send your letters and stories to me by January 28th and I will compile and post for February!

Scott and Jan
Scott and Jan
Scott and Jan
Jan and Scott
Scott and Jan
LtoR: Michael (Jan’s husband), Jan, and Scott

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival. Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society. Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

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