Student preparing now for music education career

Maggie Grace, left
Maggie Grace, left

By A&E Editor: Madison Deadman

Maggie Grace, a junior at Howell High School, gets involved in every musical opportunity that comes her way. To name a few, she is involved with Highlander Choral, Classicality, A Capella, and is a student director for Women’s Select choir. Some might recognize her from The Community Theatre of Howell’s, The Pirates of Penzance or 90-year-old Yenta in HHS’s productions of Fiddler on the Roof or Ethel in Footloose.

Grace is currently playing the lead, Stage Manager, in the high school’s next production, Our Town.

“The part is extremely challenging because I’m playing myself. Usually with a character you are showing their point-of-view and connecting with who they are. There is no character; it’s very narrator-like. I have to know all the characters along with their emotions. I have to portray the emotion for each scene and set the audience up for what is next to come. It’s a very unique role, nothing like anything I’ve done before,” says Grace.

Grace was anxious taking on such a dynamic role, mostly because it is typically played by a male. Drama teacher, Ms. Amanda Malo, held gender-blind auditions with a “whoever takes the cake, takes the cake” attitude. Grace went for the challenge and succeeded.

“As a female, I felt as if I wasn’t doing the role justice because everyone will be expecting a male.”

Being the dedicated actor that Grace is, she did a lot of research and watched interview after interview of females who have played the Stage Manager. When she found that Helen Hunt played it on Broadway and said that her playing the role as a middle-aged woman is perfect because of her outlook on life and her insight, it helped Grace clear up her concerns.

Not only is she playing the lead role but also assisting Ms. Malo in directing in addition to being Music Director. Grace claims to cry every time the show comes to an end because it is one of her all time favorite shows and such a beautiful piece of literature.

Grace is also scheduled to be music director for next year’s musical, The Wizard of Oz. This year, choir teacher, Mr. Rod Bushey, gave her the opportunity to student conduct his Women’s Select choir. Being given this chance, it has reinforced her desire to become a teacher in music education. Grace hopes to teach voice lessons to elementary school-aged children in her near future and even help primary school teachers during her senior year. She would also like to minor in psychology and possibly pursue a career in music therapy.

Attending Western Michigan University is something Grace would not mind at all especially since her sister will be attending next year, and because the school has a top-notch music program. However, her dream college is Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, for their modern approach and how they make sure that their students are well-rounded musicians, which is extremely important to Grace.

“I absolutely love kids and working with people. That’s why I want to be a teacher. The way I see it is, if I can make a difference or spark passion in one kid, that makes the job rewarding and worth my while.”

Bushey provides Grace with vocal lessons and helps her set goals for her future. He has high expectations for her and pushes her to do her best for which Grace is beyond grateful. This year’s goals consisted of achieving a Superior score at this year’s Choir Solo and Ensemble. Not only did she receive a superior, but a perfect score with not one point marked off. Next, she will be entered into States Solo and Ensemble and she is hoping to be entered into MYAF (Michigan Youth Arts Festival), after that. This festival consists of the top 12 soloists who are entered into states. Her judge recommended MYAF to her, and she is so honored to be given such a substantial comment.

“Maggie Grace is a responsible student who is very  task-oriented.   She has demonstrated outstanding work ethic in preparing for solos, musical leads, or conducting a choral selection.  Maggie approaches the task with determination and integrity.  She has a personality that her peers enjoy being around.  She is an asset to the Performing Arts Department,” Mr. Bushey says.

All of Grace’s musical interests started at a very young age. When she was only three she would put on concerts for her parents. She was born with a musical ear, if someone played a song for her on the keyboard she would play it back without ever taking a piano lesson. Once she turned ten, she was given a bigger keyboard, and at age 12 she was granted with an upright Bremen piano. At age 14 she found an old Barbie guitar in her basement, Googled what note each string was and taught herself to play. There is no doubt that music is her thing – she calls it her “safe place and niche.”

“I am just really happy with the way everything is going. This is only the beginning; my life is just getting started. I am so lucky to be provided with all of these wonderful opportunities arising with such wonderful people supporting me every step of the way. I am just really grateful for everything that is in my favor right now.”