Hays music teacher hits all the right notes
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
He had won awards before, but it's always nice to be recognized for doing a good job at your profession.
So Randy Sauer accepted congratulations from parents during the week following the Northwest District's Kansas Music Educators Association conference at Fort Hays State University, where he was named outstanding elementary music educator.
Then it was time to get back down to business, teaching students about music in several different ways.
His focus these days is vocal music instructor for students in kinder-prep through sixth grade at Holy Family Elementary School in Hays, where he also directs the sixth-grade band.
Sauer, in his 21st year of teaching, worked mostly as a band instructor in area schools, and even at the college level teaching music technology classes, until about eight years ago.
Sauer probably could keep busy enough traveling with his music show, "Randy's Music Jam," which includes original music written by Sauer.
But Sauer believes "music education should be available to every child in this country." When he learned about the position at Holy Family, he jumped at the opportunity.
"He seems to have a lot of patience with the kids, and that's important," said Gwen Staab, mother of two Holy Family students.
Staab's son, Wyatt Graff, also takes advantage of Sauer's instrumental instruction and takes private lessons in piano, guitar and drums from Sauer. Wyatt also is a member of Joyful Singers, a special choir of fifth- and sixth-grade students at Holy Family.
"If you don't know something, he explains it good," Wyatt said of Sauer. "And he's a really good musician; he plays a whole bunch of instruments."
And Sauer enjoys teaching youngsters how to play some of those instruments. Sauer tests students who are interested in band at the end of their fifth-grade year, then helps them make their choice which one to play.
He had some improvising to do this year when seven drummers showed up.
"I just divide them into different percussion parts, bass, cymbals, snare drum," said Sauer, who earlier this year won an award for his "Go Crazy" children's music DVD. "I try to set them up with what they're going to be successful at."
* Teachers honored in other categories at the conference were: Janell Antholz, a vocal and instrumental instructor for grades K-12 in the Golden Plains school district who was named outstanding high school music educator; and Lane Weaver, director of athletic bands, symphonic winds and brass choir at Fort Hays State University, outstanding college music educator. The outstanding middle school teacher was Kristine Reneberg from the Kensington-Thunder Ridge school district.