Strictly speaking, Hill knows “his stuff”

The Southerner

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By Nick Caamano

Sitting at his desk chair waiting for his class to arrive, Kevin Hill, a 39-year-old music theory teacher, begins a normal day of music theory class.  As he teaches first period, most of the students are late. In walks Thomas Grant, a sophomore, Richard Lou, a junior, and Miller Lansing, a senior.

As most of the wanderers make their way into class 10 minutes late, Hill is instructing the class.

“Alright guys, get out your staff paper and write four measures in four-four time. This is your key.”

He then plays three notes of the major triad. The first, third, and fifth.

“So the first note was a G, in C major, listen up,” Hill says.

After giving the class the key, he plays a short little tune that the class must write out on their staff papers. He plays it a few more times to help the class that struggles to finish their sheets. He does this a few more times, changing the tune’s pitches and rhythm. The class must attempt to write each one correctly on each line of staff paper.

“Mr. Hill, this is harrrrdd,” Crescent Stokes, a senior in Mr. Hill’s AP music theory class says.

“I know it’s hard, guys, but in order to become better, we have to practice,” Hill says.

After the listening exercises, the four beginning music theory students separate from the AP students. Seong Cho, the student teacher, takes them to the piano lab to teach them the beginning course.  Left in the room are the audacious AP students that have to face the thorough, ambitious Hill.

Thirty-nine years ago, Kevin Hill was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the largest city in North Carolina. He was born to two very musical parents, both Chorus directors, which ultimately led him to learn music at a very young age.

Getting into music at such an age and having two parents that were music teachers instilled into Kevin a passion for teaching music, a passion so strong that it influenced his choice of a major in college and graduate school.

Hill began taking weekly piano lessons at age four. He was also a member of the choir at the same time. Being a music theory teacher now, a good question would be if he was learning theory at an age as young as four.

“Yeah, I mean any time you are studying music, you are learning theory, um you know, the basics … the fundamentals of it. Of course, the advanced concepts come later, but the fundamentals can be learned at a young age,” Hill said.

At age 7, Hill moved to the Atlanta Area—Cumming, to be specific. Most of his childhood and teen years, he remembers spending in Cumming.

He continued to take piano lessons throughout middle school and high school. He was also enrolled in many music-related classes during this time.  After graduating high school, he went to college in Rome, Georgia, and majored in Music Education.

“I’ve always had a passion for teaching my knowledge of music to others. My parents were both music teachers, so I guess that influenced my decision to major in music ed,” Hill said.

After finishing his undergraduate degree in music education, he was admitted to Georgia State University in the master’s degree program in Choral Conducting.  It was there that he met the love of his life, whom he married three years later.

“To teach music and music education in the United States, you have to have a music education degree and get certified in that specific area. You can have a specialist degree in choral music or in instrumental music. And so that kind of decides if you are going to go into band or chorus. And then for the master’s, conducting, there’s not an undergrad degree, so typically it’s folks that want to conduct professionally in high school or college situations,” Hill said.

The master’s degree program for Choral Conducting that Hill enrolled in was a two-year program. Before he enrolled at Georgia State, he was interning as a student teacher at Rome High School, which was part of his undergraduate music education degree.

During the second year of his graduate school degree, he worked part time at Grady High School. After graduating, he continued to work in a full time job at Grady as a choral teacher/conductor.

Because of Hill’s persistence and passion, Grady began to offer chorus, which was, at first, only an after school program, as a regular course at Grady.  Two years later, because of Hill’s expertise, the music theory class was offered along with the AP extension.

“Yeah, I guess you could say I’m struggling with AP music theory,” says Crescent Stokes, a senior in Mr. Hill’s AP music theory class.

It is a common response to hear from students that Mr. Hill is a hard teacher. Students believe that Hill’s attitude towards teaching is  straightforward, but he is very informative, and it’s clear he knows what he is talking about.

 

 

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