Editor’s note: Some answers have been shortened for print; this is indicated by an ellipses.
After a decline in enrollment in the Treasure Valley Community College music program, Michelle Flock says she hopes to put the program back on the upswing. Flock is the new director of choral studies, having started the position with the college on Jan. 7.
Flock grew up in Nyssa and later attended Treasure Valley’s choral programs. Her experience includes teaching music students from elementary school age to adults. She taught at Payette Primary School from 2007 to 2009, Central Washington University from 2009 to 2011, and grades 6 through 12 choir in Parma from 2012 to 2013.
Flock took time out of her day to talk about her plans for the program on Thursday.
The Argus Observer: How does it feel to be the new director?
Flock: It’s really exciting. I actually am a TVCC graduate, and so it’s nice to kinda come back to my old stomping grounds and take on a new role.
Argus: When did you graduate from TVCC?
Flock: It was 2004.
Argus: Why did you decide to become a Director of Choral Studies?
Flock: I have been involved in music for many years; I was involved in music here at TVCC when I attended and then I went to George Fox University and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, and then eventually went on to Central Washington [University] and got my Master’s Degree in Music Education, with a focus in Choral Conducting. And so the opportunity presented itself for the choir director here at TVCC, and everything kind of lined up for me, and I was in the right place at the right time and it worked out.
Argus: You said you were involved in music when you were a student here; In what ways?
Flock: I was involved in multiple choirs; At the time we had a vocal jazz ensemble, I was in that. I was also in the concert choir and then we had a smaller chamber choir, our chamber singers, and I was involved in that as well, and took music theory and sight singing … pretty much as many music classes as I could at the time.
Argus: What range are you?
Flock: When I was here at TVCC, I actually sang alto most of the time. As time has progressed, I’ve actually moved to singing soprano for most things. Over the last several years, I’ve been singing as a soprano in the chorale, the community choir that meets on Tuesday nights. So a good majority of the people that are in the group know me because I have actually been involved.
Argus: What all does your role entail?
Flock: Right now, it is teaching two choirs; I’ve got the concert choir, which is the college group, and then the TVCC chorale, which is the community group.
Argus: What are your goals for TVCC?
Flock: My hope is that we are able to build the program back up a little bit; We kind of took a little bit of a downturn for a bit with numbers. And so, I really hope that we’re able to build up the choral part for me, but just the music part, in general. My hope would be that I would actually be able to start a few face-to-face music gen-ed classes, to be here at TVCC as well. That would just be another addition to what I am currently doing, but that probably won’t happen for at least a quarter.
Argus: What would you say is your area of expertise in music studies?
Flock: It is definitely voice. That’s what I’ve focused on the most, and that ties in with the choral part of it; being able to work with whatever physical instrument that you’re given and then hopefully make the best of it and work with all different ages. I’ve actually taught pretty much kindergarten through twelfth grade, in various forms over the years, including college in a couple different times. I’ve got a lot of different experience with different types of people and different voice ranges and things like that. I think that’ll definitely be an asset for me, as we get into building this choir program.
Argus: What do you most look forward to in teaching at TVCC?
Flock: I think right now it would be getting to know some of the college students; I’ve known, like I said, kind of more of the community group for quite a while. I hope I’m able to connect with more of the college group, so that we can kind of pull more people in for that.
Argus: How is your family involved in music?
Flock: They all have been involved in music in some form or another; My oldest sister actually taught choir in Fruitland for several years, so she has a music background as well. We’ve all sung together in church choirs and different theater programs and things, a lot of them here at TVCC, but other things out in the community and surrounding area as well. My parents are actually involved; they are going to be attending the chorale and singing with us. That’ll be fun.
Argus: What are some of your musical influences?
Flock: Some of my biggest musical influences have been jazz; That’s something that I was exposed to here at TVCC and grew to love that over the course of my college career … Ella Fitzgerald, Kurt Elling, all of these vocal jazz artists that are really quite talented people. And I think there are elements that they have of hard work and dedication, that is really important to me.
Argus: If you’ve had to pick one country whose musical style inspires you the most, which one would it be?
Flock: That’s an interesting question. I think it might actually be England; There [are] quite a few different composers … more current composers that have come from England that I’ve been interested in, most of them have passed away at this point, because music goes so quickly. One of my … favorite composers has been Benjamin Britten. He has written tons of different things and he has some good choral works out there as well.