Eshelman Conducts Choral Festival

Dr. Darla Eshelman, Oklahoma Baptist University associate professor of music education, recently served as guest conductor for the 56th Annual Mid-Del Schools Elementary Choral Festival at Midwest City High School in Midwest City, Okla.

The three-day festival hosted more than 700 fourth- and fifth-graders from the district's 17 schools. The participating elementary students presented a concert at the conclusion of the festival.

"I enjoy getting invited to serve as a guest conductor for elementary and middle school choral festivals," Eshelman said. "Since I began my teaching career with those particular age levels, it is wonderful to be able to continue working with groups that age, and to apply that experience to teaching my methods students at OBU."

Eshelman said one of the most rewarding parts of participating in music festivals is encountering former students who teach in the districts.

"The really exciting thing was that four of my former students are now music teachers in the districts and were present with their students as I conducted the festival," Eshelman said. "I was so proud of each of them for the successful work they are doing in their music classrooms."

The former OBU students present at the elementary choral festival included Nicole Carpenter, Class of 1999; Daina Kringlen and Alyssa Burnett, Class of 2005; and Tiana Perez, Class of 2006.

"Getting to see them, and visit with them about their time at OBU as well as their current teaching positions was extremely rewarding to me as a music teacher educator," Eshleman said.

Eshelman also works with elementary students as coordinator of "Young Singers of Central Oklahoma," a community-based choral music program for youth ages 7-18. Through this program, she gives her current students opportunities to gain experiences in a public school setting before beginning their student teaching.

"My methods students serve in various capacities with these groups as students conductors, assistant and accompanists," Eshleman said. "So the times we have had prestigious performances, they have been able to be directly involved."

Whether Eshelman is conducting, teaching or composing, she dedicates her time to provide her students with the best music education she can deliver. She lives by the philosophy "everything depends on the teacher," adopted from Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly.

"It is the philosophy by which I prepare my students for influencing young lives in their future classrooms," Eshelman said. "The passion, commitment, delivery of information and facilitation of musical opportunities that a teacher provides for children will hopefully instill a love of music for a lifetime in each and every student they instruct."

Eshelman conducts OBU's Bisonette Glee Club and is the coordinator of music education. She and her husband, Corky, have one son, Connor. The family lives in Norman.