BEA alum touts value of fine arts in education
Music has an incredible ability in and of its own to grow into something bigger than itself, almost like a vine. It can start small, as a hummed or whistled tune, and can grow to a song played by a single person, a small group, or an entire chorus, orchestra, or band and eventually, that tiny “vine” has grown, spread, and gotten stronger.
One of Blue Earth Area’s own musical “vines” has twisted his way to Richfield where he has been the vocal music director and directs seven different choirs. He has been working hard on making music grow not only in his family, but his entire community.
Joel Green, Blue Earth Area High School graduate of the class of 1988, son of Donald and Rose Ann Green, started his musical involvement at Blue Earth Area.
“I was involved in everything musical at BEA. I was in every theater production from seventh grade to senior year, as well as every community theater production and show,” says Green.
His musical mentors, Ron Gray and Mike and Sue Ellingsen, inspired Green to pursue excellence and embrace his gifts as a musician.
“Some of my favorite memories include playing the french horn for the entire student body, singing Mozart’s Papageno’s Song with my girlfriend, traveling to Washington, D.C. with band director Ron Gray to play in the National John Philip Sousa Honor Band, and most of all becoming the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. My oldest son played the same role in our production in Litchfield when I was the director.”
Green also adds singing at church in the Trinity HiChoir was also a blast, commenting he has great memories singing praises to the Lord.
After graduating from the local high school, Green attended Minnesota State University, Mankato on a symphony scholarship. He finished his bachelor’s degree in music education and pursued a career in education.
“I have since completed two master’s degrees one in education and a second in education administration,” says the musical educator.
Green started teaching in Huron, South Dakota, with his wife, Janell, whom he has been married to for 28 years. The pair stayed in Huron for four years and moved after their first son, Josiah (now 24), was born.
“My wife stayed home with our children and we lived on a teacher’s salary for the first 12 years raising four amazing young men we are blessed beyond measure,” he says. “I have been the vocal music director in Litchfield now for the past 24 years.”
The Green brothers Josiah, Jonathan, 23, Jordan, 20, and Joshua, 19, actually lent their vocal talents to the Minnesota Twins baseball team in 2014, when they sang the National Anthem for a home game. Green says he is a very proud father to four multi-talented young men.
“The best part of my job is passing along what was so generously passed along to me a passion for musical excellence and the contagious joy that it brings,” says Green. “I’ve had the opportunity to see many students embrace their gifts in music and grow it to something bigger than themselves. I truly believe that being raised in Blue Earth and having the support of the community and local church set me on this path. Everyone needs to recognize the importance of investing in young people challenges and all. Sometimes, it just takes a few years of watering the dirt until you see the results bloom.”
Green says one of his favorite songs has lyrics that talk about how a little of us is “staid”, or marked by settled dignity and often prim or decorous self-restraint, in everyone we chance to meet.
“Teachers play a huge role in what we call a ‘well-rounded’ adult,” he says. “Students who want to think for themselves, are self-motivated learners and want to invest themselves in things greater than what’s directly in front of them these are some of the students music educators impact.”
Green says the Fine Arts not only teach music, they synthesize every other academic discipline into one beautiful masterpiece math, social science, science and literature.
“I could go on and on about this idea of synthesizing intellectual concepts and how students love the opportunity to think outside the box, to go beyond the notes and lyrics and create, using previous knowledge and insight to establish new thoughts and ideas which generates new knowledge,” says Green. “The deep, intrinsic learning that occurs when students are allowed the opportunity to internalize music they become ‘whole’ people, emotionally stable, young adults who go off to become amazing community leaders and parents.”
The Litchfield vocal music director also states that in his 28 years of teaching, he can attest that music education and fine arts are more necessary now than ever.
“As we continually hear about anxiety, stress, gun violence, the list goes on now, more than ever, we need to invest in the fine arts in our schools and give our youth an emotional outlet and a path for them to understand who they are and what they want to become in life.”
A rose, a thorn, a branch, a limb, a vine whatever way children choose to grow, the greatest factor for that continued growth is the support around them.