Sara currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA where she is a substitute teacher in several school districts. She also teaches clarinet and music theory lesson privately. Sara is happily married to Brian (former musician gone computer nerd!) and they have two dogs, Rufus and Pnut.
Check out Amigos do Ohio on Facebook! I highly recommend the third video on their page "March Roda de Choro-Carinhoso."
K.L.M. - Where did you go to school, and what degrees did you get?
S.M.T. - Youngstown State University, Bachelors in Music Ed-2002; YSU, M.M. Clarinet Performance-2004, random continuing education classes at Akron and the University of Virginia.
K.L.M. - We have a common teacher, Bob Fitzer. He was such an inspiration to many of his students. Tell me, what is your favorite “Bob moment” musical or non-musical.
S.M.T. - Well, there are many “Bob moments” from which to choose. This is difficult. I suppose one of the most memorable was more of a lesson, rather than a moment. One thing that always sticks with me is that no one can ever take the time spent on honing your clarinet fundamental skills away from you. Even if you don't utilize the skills for 30 years, you will always remember how to do it the right way, you just have to retrain your dumb puppy fingers.
K.L.M. - You have taught a lot since graduating. Give me a run-down of where you’ve taught, and what grade/subject you taught.
S.M.T. - Rundown, check.
2005-Powell Valley Middle/High School, Virginia, 7-12 choir.
2006-MusicAlliance Inc., Cleveland, Ohio, 4-8 band.
2007-2009-Akron Public Schools, Akron, Ohio 6-8, general music & choir.
2010-Gateway School District. Monroeville, PA, K-4 general music, adapted autistic music.
2010-Kiski Area School District, 7-8 chorus, general music, 6th grade elementary chorus.
2009-present-Substitute teacher-pretty much any subject.
K.L.M. - Since I’ve known you, you have played in many different kinds of groups. Most recently you’ve played with Amigos do Ohio Choro Club. Tell me, how did you get involved with this group and what is the music like?
S.M.T. - Yes, the Ohio Choro Club. One of the coolest music projects I've ever been involved in. I have a couple of friends that went to Brazil to study choro music. They came back to Ohio and wanted to start a group. Clarinet and flute are really popular in that style of music, just like music here in America (ha). I heard a couple recordings of the music and agreed to play with them! It is so much fun to play.
K.L.M. - By the way, I just watched one of the Amigos do Ohio Choro Club videos on Facebook, your tone is LOVELY. You were trained by an orchestral clarinetist (a Marcellus trained orchestral clarinetist, none the less). When you play in this group, do you adapt the way you play or is it the same as you would play in a more traditional setting for the clarinet?
S.M.T. - The clarinet fundamentals are all the same. In fact, I really had to go back to the fundamentals (scales, arpeggios, etc.) to be able to play this music. Apparently the Brazilians like to play in E major a lot. I suppose I take a more “jazzy” approach to the style and I mess around with articulation a lot. It is funny and happy.
K.L.M. - Just for my one or two Brazilian readers out there (Viva!)... are there any actual Brazilians in this Ohio Choro Club? If not, who came up with the idea, and how did you all prepare to play this music?
S.M.T. - No one in the group is Brazilian. Two of the guys (Eric and Jason) studied in Brazil. Eric studies 7-string guitar and Jason studied pandeiro. Eric is pursuing his doctorate in ethnomusicology, and choro music is the focus of his studies. He decided to start a group back in Ohio. Eric brought back a ton of choro music from Brazil so we listened and listened and listened to emulate the style. We also had weekly reading (drinking) sessions and just plowed through charts. Eventually we were able to play a couple tunes. Jon (another original member) plays mandolin and cavaquinho. One of the main features of this style of music is the social aspect. In Brazil, they often have “Roda de Choro”, where musicians gather around a table and play songs, usually from memory. I just learned that the really hard-core choro enthusiasts scoff at players that use charts. Eric started a “Roda de Choro” on the first Tuesday of the month in Kent, OH, and it is still being held every month!
K.L.M. - Okay, so you teach a lot and David Yandl just described some ideas he had about music education. Do you have anything to add to what he said, or any of your own ideas?
S.M.T. - I enjoyed David's thoughts about music education! The only thought I have at this moment is that when you are teaching, never lower your standards. Students will only achieve what you expect them to achieve. If you are lazy, they are lazy.
K.L.M. - I know you listen to a lot of popular music. Why do you like to listen to it?
S.M.T. - Feel.
K.L.M. - Do you think popular music is a good tool for helping teach music?
S.M.T. - Yes. Popular music can aid in developing a sense of time and tight rhythm. (I love tight rhythm.) Also, I think it is one of the neatest ways to help students recognize harmonic progression.
K.L.M. - What is your favorite note on the clarinet?
S.M.T. - Probably open g. You can tell a lot by your open g.
K.L.M. - What is your most memorable musical moment?
S.M.T. - I don't think this has happened yet.
K.L.M. - If you could magically wake up and play any kind of music, what would you do?
S.M.T. - I would sing in a killer country group.
K.L.M. - What are you listening to now?