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Statesman features CSD teachers

JULY 07, 2021 05:00 AM
Idaho Statesman

Orchestra, music education is synonymous with this Caldwell family
Sisters Katy Gabbard Green and Gini Gabbard Rosandick are both retired orchestra directors from the Caldwell School District in Idaho. Their parents, James and Virginia Gabbard, and their brothers were all musicians.  
Sitting with her siblings on a family trip to Yellowstone, Gini Gabbard Rosandick remembers flipping through a music book her mom had brought home.
She was the older sister and would help teach her younger siblings — Katy Gabbard Green and David Gabbard — the parts. Once they learned the song, they would launch into three-part harmonies and rounds.
“I just remember the three of us … up there with some music book that mom had brought home and we were just singing,” she told the Idaho Statesman. “We always were singing.”

Even though there are no longer any Gabbards working in Caldwell, many students the family has taught over the years have gone on to teach music themselves, relaying those lessons to the next generation of students.
“The biggest thing I think about is passing on that knowledge,” Green said. “Teaching your own students, to see them progress and advance and play so musically … that’s a really gratifying feeling.”
Rosandick and Green’s parents, James H. Gabbard and Virginia Dean Gabbard, taught their children the importance of music from a young age.
James Gabbard had been a football player in college, but when he injured himself at the end of his sophomore year, he decided to go in a different direction. He followed a “beloved” professor from Kentucky to the University of Northern Colorado and became a music major. That’s where he met Virginia.
”Our mom, she sang all the time. She was in the era of the big bands,” Rosandick said. “She was in a band, and she sang all the pop songs. She would go to the hospital and sing for the the veterans.”
She loved performing from an early age, Rosandick said.
The family moved to Caldwell in the early 1960s. James Gabbard went on to teach at The College of Idaho, spending 25 years (1963-88) as a music education professor and choral director. Virginia Gabbard taught as a general music and high school girls chorale director in the Caldwell School District from 1964 to 1989.
Their children picked up singing when they were young; once they were ready, they all learned to play string instruments. Rosandick and Green both took up the violin.
“Our mom had a violin in the closet and so when it was my turn to go to fifth grade, I wanted to be in the orchestra,” Rosandick said. “And (my mom) says, ‘Well, there’s that violin in the closet.’”
“I think I got it after you,” Green added. “It was like a tin can, you know. Horrible sound. And I didn’t realize that until I got a violin later, and, was like, ‘Well, this is what it sounds like.’”
Both of their parents were trained as vocalists and valued that their kids picked up string instruments, Rosandick said.
“I’m so glad they started us on stringed instruments,” she said. “Of all the instruments, I think string instruments are the most vocal instruments that you can have. … They sound like the voice. … We always play an instrument like you would sing.”
They also studied with their parents, who were “wonderful teachers,” Green said. They learned from their parents a love of both music and teaching.
Rosandick and Green said it was clear to them growing up they would go on to be music educators.
“Because both our parents were teachers, I just thought that was what I wanted to do, too, is be a teacher,” Green said.
Rosandick said she knew in high school teaching music would be her next step.
“I loved figuring out, problem solving maybe, how to teach the different parts,” she said. “You know, I remember being in choir and being able to see all the parts moving at the same time.”
She loved music and loved children, she said. It seemed like the clear path.
“Looking back on my teaching career, the best part was every day, hanging out with the kids, and finding out what their interests were and trying to draw them into my world,” she said. “And trying to expand what they could do in music, and give them something that they would be proud to belong to, set the bar high and just keep encouraging them.”
They didn’t start out working in Caldwell, but eventually, both of their careers led them back home. Between the two of them, they have taught at a number of schools in the district, including Caldwell High School, Jefferson Middle School and Sacajawea Elementary School.
The district provided a comprehensive music program for students throughout their education, and also gave students who couldn’t afford an instrument opportunities to get the resources they needed to participate, they said.
“I think Caldwell has valued music in this community,” said Rosandick, who retired in 2015. “Everybody should be in music. Everybody should be learning an instrument and learning to read music.”
Rosandick said she loved being able to work with children of all different ages, from elementary to high school. And she loved seeing her students — who she watched grow into impressive musicians — then go on to teach others.

One of the most rewarding parts for Green, she said, was to see her students go from learning the music to making music.
“Teaching them the style and having them be able to stand on their own and just have that, they feel it right here in their hearts,” Green said. “That’s what we want. That’s why music is so important. … That they get to express themselves through their instrument or their voices.”
Students in the music program were able to accomplish things they didn’t think they could, Rosandick said. She would push her students and they would always rise to the challenge. That’s part of the reason she loved teaching — she was able to give children the skills and confidence they needed to grow.
“Kids love working hard,” she said. “They love learning how to do difficult things.”
Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic made it far more difficult to teach music. It was nearly impossible to have that personal connection over video. But Green said she was able to continue teaching. She tested out different methods, dividing kids into smaller groups and working to get students motivated — even when they were at home.
“When the kids came back to school, they were so excited,” she said. “And I was so excited, I just couldn’t wait.”
Two of Rosandick and Green’s siblings also went into music education — but not in Caldwell. David Gabbard teaches in the West Ada School District and Ray Gabbard, who was a professional singer in The Phantom of the Opera, teaches as a director of drama in England. Their other brother, Jim Gabbard, was a professional musician.
”We just all love music,” Rosandick said. “I don’t think that I thought there was anything else for my profession (than) to be in music of some sort.”
Even though Green retired this year, the family continues to have a lasting impact on the city.
“From when our parents came here from ‘62, when my mom started teaching in the public schools, until 2021, there has been a Gabbard teaching in the Caldwell schools,” Rosandick said. “And if there haven’t been Gabbards, there have been students of Gabbards. And there still are.”
Since Green retired, there’s “no blood,” Rosandick said.
“But now, there’s our legacy of students,” she said. “So we’re really proud of that.”
Students who studied under them and their parents have gone on to teach orchestra, general music and choir in Caldwell. Others have gone on to give private lessons. Some have left Caldwell, but are teaching music in other places.
Music is still their passion. And Green said she plans to continue playing in her retirement. Both Green and Rosandick look back on their careers fondly, of being able to continue the legacy of their parents and give kids the tools they needed to learn instruments and find their passions.

Why is music education so important?
“It is the human experience,” Rosandick said. “It reflects who we are as human beings.”
Becca Savransky covers education for the Idaho Statesman in partnership with Report for America. The position is partly funded through community support.  
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