The great gift for my students is to use music to make their own students better people. That is what I teach to them.

Kim Councill

Kim Councill grew up in a military family, but unlike most others, hers was a military music family.

"My father was an Air Force musician," says Councill, a professor of music. "He traveled all over the world and played for the queen of England, so I was smitten with music from childhood. He ran our church choir and gave free lessons every Saturday at our church. I grew up in the pit of all the musicals he directed at local theatres."

Naturally, she played — piano when young, and then clarinet from middle school — and, she says, her father dreamed of her performing for a living.

By high school, though, she learned about music therapy and the joys of teaching, and still revels in the station teachers take on.

"If you are not in awe of the responsibility of teaching someone else's child, you do not need to be in the classroom," says Councill. "If you are not humbled by knowing that someone in front of you is someone else's miracle, you should not be teaching."

Councill especially loves teaching prospective music teachers in a liberal arts setting.

"Music is culture and politics and philosophy and religion — everything liberal arts is," she says. "The more you know about the world, the better your teaching will be. If you can say you read that book or saw that speaker or have taken an amazing anthropology class, then you will be teaching the whole student."

Councill especially likes teaching, and teaching students to teach, middle-schoolers.

"They are funny and quirky and on the cusp of strong musicianship. They are ready to do something special," she observes. Accordingly, she runs a middle-school music camp in nearby Milton, Pa., which she started in 2006. Many of her Bucknell students teach in the camp, and other counselors are former campers who have come back to work with the younger musicians.

Councill also specializes in teaching students with a variety of abilities and needs.

"I believe that every child is extraordinarily musical," she says. "You teach the student in front of you and take whatever skills they have. If I have a student who is in a wheelchair, it doesn't mean he or she can't folk dance. It simply means I have to be more creative in my approach.

"The great gift for my students is to use music to make their own students better people. That is what I teach to them."

Posted August 2018