Rosita Tendall recently retired from St. Paul as a children’s choir director. She shared a few thoughts about her time here, and her plans for the future.
How long have you been a children’s choir director at St. Paul? I started out at St. Paul subbing for Linda Bengfort for part of a year when I was still in graduate school at the University of Iowa in 2002 or 2003. Prior to working at St. Paul, I directed children’s church choirs in lots of different churches, from the time I was in college in 1973 until 1992. I took a break from directing kids’ choirs while I was singing semi professionally and working in Minneapolis.
What was your favorite part of being a director here? I’ve always enjoyed making music with children. Making music is so natural for them. I enjoy helping them develop their skills, find the joy of singing, moving, and playing instruments together, and using these activities to affirm who and whose they are…joyful children of God.
What’s your favorite piece of children’s choir music? I really don’t have a favorite. In fact, singing lots of different styles of music is much more interesting to me. I tried to choose songs that have good, meaningful texts that spoke to kids, beautiful melodies that I wanted them to get stuck in their ear and heart, and that were useful in teaching musical skills, or were just plain fun. It seems important to me that children learn the songs of their faith, so hymn tunes and liturgical elements were always part of what we learned, along with psalms and songs from the liturgical church seasons. Anytime I found a song in which I was able to include drumming, Orff instruments, some easier part singing, or a melody or rhythm that helped the children to develop their voices, it was a good one. And if it had a singing game, that was a bonus!
What are your plans for retirement? I expect that I will still be teaching music, whether private lessons or choirs of some sort. I love it too much and it is a huge part of who I am. I am thinking of doing some teaching for my youngest daughter, who has opened a growing music school in northeast Minneapolis and needs teachers. How ironic that I will be teaching for her! But, what a proud moment as well. All three of my children are very musical but in very different expressions.
What was your work at Augustana College? I taught in the Music Education department, teaching elementary music methods courses to music education majors. I supervised student teachers in their elementary music clinical and student teaching, as well as teaching other related courses in music ed and general music, such as Assessment in Music Education, Seminar for Student Teachers, and Vocal Techniques for Instrumental Majors.
Any last thoughts? It has been a joy to work here at St. Paul, both because of the staff and the congregational commitment to Christian ministry, including music ministry. Every time I asked for something, it was joyfully received; summer music weeks, Orff instrument ordering, starting a 4-5-year-old choir, the list goes on. It was a lucky day for me that I walked in the door at St. Paul.