Faith and Fiddles: Orchestra Teacher and Violinist Katelyn Cashwell

Katelyn Cashwell grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan, and began playing violin in 4th grade. While in high school, she had the opportunity to perform with the Unity Christian High School at the Michigan Music Conference and teach under Sara VandePol Jager. After graduating in 2008, she went on to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and studied conducting under Robert Nordling; John Varineau, former conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony; Dr. Joel Navarro; and Dr. Tiffany Engle. While at Calvin College, she performed with the Calvin College Orchestra, with whom she toured frequently, including to China in 2010. In 2017, Katelyn received her Masters in Music Education from Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, IL.

Katelyn moved to Fayetteville, NC in 2013 and currently teaches at Massey Hill Classical High School. Professionally, she performs with the Snyder Memorial Baptist Church orchestra, as well as at weddings and private events. She also teaches violin and viola privately from her home.

Katelyn is married to her husband of almost 2 years, Ryan Cashwell. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family and friends.

3 Things making your life richer and why: Without my faith, my life would not be rich at all. During such uncertain times, God is the one thing I can trust to stay the same. 

My husband makes my life richer. He has always been my biggest supporter when it comes to my art. He comes to every performance for me individually and for my students. He also helps me enjoy life. We live very close to Downtown Fayetteville and he is always encouraging me to enjoy the local shops and restaurants.

My students make my life so rich! They are constantly asking questions and want to try new things. They work so hard at everything I put in front of them. They keep me laughing every day and make me want to come to work. 

Local Artist you admire: While they are not local, they have begun to visit North Carolina quite a bit. The Moxie Strings is a fiddle group based out of Michigan. They travel around the country teaching students fiddle pieces by rote and how to improvise. I met them when I was a student and have had them come work with my students here in North Carolina. What I love most about The Moxie Strings is that they are able to help students open up. I have seen students who I struggled with having them play in class, play in front of an audience of parents! They are amazing!

Current artistic experiments: I am currently working with my students to prepare them for a life of performance. One of the ways I am doing this is by teaching them to play in alternate clefs. A lot of the time, as a professional musician, you will be handed music that is not written for your instrument. By teaching them these alternate clefs, I can help my students be able to play anything handed to them. I also try to have them play some sort of syncopated music during the year because a lot of the pop tunes couples want for their wedding are all syncopated. Anything I do with my students lately has been to prepare them for the outside world of music.

Personal practice informs your teaching or visa versa: I have learned through my professional career that the music I play now is not like the music I played in orchestra in school. One of my favorite experiences in high school was playing in our musical pit. It taught me the unexpected moments in music and how to watch a conductor. I love that I am able to give my students the same opportunity at Massey Hill Classical High School with our theatre department.

Favorite way to share artistic history with your students: I recently discovered the book Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton-Hill. It has a classical music piece for each day of the year. Each morning, while students are entering the classroom, I have the piece for the day playing. We then read the excerpt from the book. We have all learned about so many new pieces and I love when they come back to me and ask if we can play those pieces.

What do you want for your arts students? I want my students to feel loved and cared for. I want music to be a place where they feel safe. I want music to be a release for them. 

If you could teach anything using your art form what would it be? I love fiddle music! I love that most of the time it is taught by ear so students really have to listen to the music and figure it out. It also allows for creativity with improvisation. I could teach a whole class on fiddling and improvisation!

Music Teacher Corey Leak Elevates and Educates Through Song

Mr. Corey Leak is currently the music teacher at Lucile Souders Elementary School. His greatest joy is inspiring his students to enjoy all that music has to offer across many genres.  While at Lucile Souders, Leak has put on musical productions such as Annie, Motown Christmas and the Wiz.

At the age of 13, Mr. Leak started traveling and singing professionally with the Boys Choir of Harlem. He has performed with a diverse group of music’s most distinguished and revered recording artists, ranging from Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder to Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Kathleen Battle. Mr. Leak was a member of the cast of the Lion King, and has performed with the North Carolina Symphony, New York Symphony and Boston Symphony.

Mr. Leak is a graduate of the Choir Academy of Harlem, a performing arts high school, and holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music/Vocal Performance from Shaw University. Leak has completed additional studies in vocal performance at Indiana University, Boston University and Westminster Choir College.

3 Things making your life richer & why?

Three things that make my life richer are my family because they keep me grounded and have been the core of helping me to grow into the man I am today. They are my reason for pushing myself to be the absolute best that I can be.

Teaching and getting to work with my students daily is one of the greatest experiences of my life. They challenge me to be better by wanting to give them all I’ve learned and experienced in life. Every day we get to take a journey through music, whether exploring music genres from around the world, learning different instruments, or singing. I get to see them grow and dare to dream of endless possibilities of what they can accomplish.

The last thing that makes life richer for me is the opportunities I have been given to still perform and sing. As much as I love teaching, I also have a great love and equal passion for performance and singing and using my gift. Having the opportunity to share my gift of singing is truly a joy. I love connecting with my audience through song to uplift, inspire, and even provoke moments of thought in them.

Local artist you admire?

I admire and respect greatly Monique Butler McLeod. She is a professional singer, choir director, coach, and so much more. I had the privilege to sing with her at the past two Lift Every Voice and Sing shows presented by Cumberland Choral Arts. She is a phenomenal singer and performer and equally a phenomenal person to know in everyday life. She inspires me and has truly become a wonderful friend. 

What is one of your current artistic experiments?

I am currently looking to start working on a recording of African American spirituals and art songs. I’ve never done a full recorded album before and while I am nervous, I am also excited for the opportunity. This is an untapped market that you really don’t have much representation in today and so it would be a total reward for me. 

How does your practice inform your teaching, or vice versa?

My practice informs my teaching through the discipline I teach them when it comes to performance. How to stand, how to hold a music folder, how to engage an audience, and tell a story through song. It also informs the level of expectation I have for my students. I do not limit their abilities: I push them to where I know they can go and beyond. I do not allow them to speak any negativity about themselves or each other; instead I only promote positive reinforcement and words. No two people are alike. My expectation is not that they learn to be better than one another, but for them to be the best THEY can be in whatever musical expression we are exploring at the moment. I hope they will take those tools and carry them throughout the rest of their lives and apply it to whatever they do, wherever they go. 

Corey (second from right) with fellow soloists at “Lift Every Voice and Sing” 2022

What is your favorite way to share artistic history with your students? 

My favorite way to share artistic history with my students is through animated videos that depict the portions of history I would like for them to learn, and wherever possible, bring in fellow musicians, singers, etc to do live presentations. I try to introduce music history in ways that inspire, provoke thought, and engage my students.

What do you want for your art students? 

What I want for my students is for them to get every opportunity there is to learn all about the wonderful world of music. I would love for them to be exposed to different cultures, instruments, musical experiences. I would like for them to walk away from my class inspired to be their absolute best creative selves. I want them to be free to explore and become as well-rounded human beings as possible. 

If you could teach anything using your art form, what would it be?

Music is a part of life that helps to create and effect positive change.  Music has the power to heal, uplift, inspire, challenge, and increase positive brain development. Music is what changed my life and to be able to use it in part to influence my students of all the possibilities and creativity is truly amazing to me. I would like to continue to use it to teach my students how to respect, love, and appreciate one another. I think our world would be a better place if everyone were able to look at each other through the eyes of love. If I can use my art form to help put a little more love out into the world then I would have accomplished my mission in life. 


Vocal Music Teacher Temoni Agee-Boyce Lifts Students’ Voices

Ms. Temoni Agee-Boyce has been singing since the young age of three. She is a member of the gospel group, The Truthettes, and has been since the age of ten. As a graduate of Fayetteville State University, she majored in Music Education with a concentration in voice. She received her Master’s Degree from Liberty University where she studied Music and Worship. Currently, Ms. Agee-Boyce serves as the Vocal Music Teacher at Reid Ross Classical School. She has taught English to students in Beijing, China. She is the Praise and Worship leader and Youth Choir Director at Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC.

Last year, Ms. Agee-Boyce launched her private vocal training studio through her business, T.A.B Empowerment. Her desire is to be able to share her life values and love of music with the world, but she has a special love for youth and young adults. She hopes to continue teaching full-time, while serving the Kingdom of God in whatever capacity necessary. Ms. Agee-Boyce’s desire is that she can continue to give back in such a way that resembles the way in which she has been tremendously blessed by her Creator.

3 Things making your life richer & why: My Education, Mindset, and Talent and/or Skill. I worked hard in school and earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in my content area of Music. Because of my credentials, I am able to apply for specific positions and receive pay for my time, knowledge, and performance. My main pay comes from being a music teacher, but I receive outstanding pay serving as a church youth choir director, and a praise and worship leader. I was also recently able to open my business in which I provide vocal training to all ages. Because of the opportunities I am awarded and have awarded myself, I must put forth the effort, dedication, and time in order to receive the benefits. I must make sure I show up prompt, prepared, productive,  polite, and positive.
My mindset is the most important piece to making money. If I want to opportunity, I have to do what is required. To whom much is given, much is also required.
Lastly, my talent has played a part in my success. This is the talent God has blessed me with. With this talent, I have put in the time to perfect my craft. Through my experience and expertise I have built my skill in the area of music, in general, but specifically in the voice.

Local artist you admire: If I had to choose, one of the local artists I admire in Fayetteville is Yael Hilton. I admire her because she is so humble and embraces the opportunity to bring light and peace to others through her gift and ministry in Gospel music.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? One of my current artistic experiences I am working on is building my business and making sure it is serving my clientele in the best way possible.

How does your personal practice inform your teaching, or vice versa? Experience is the best teacher, and this has been my personal practice. It has made teaching and performance extremely smooth and easy.

What is your favorite way to share artistic history with your students? I like to share artistic history with my students by showing them actual performances. They are able to not only relate but to critique constructively. This creates space for them to compare and contrast for improvement and success in their performance.

What do you want for your arts students? I would love for my students to exceed me in all I have seen, done, and learned. They have so much more potential than I did and they are dedicated to their craft. I’d like to see them be the best musician they possibly can be. I want them to receive all the opportunities possible. I want them to perform everywhere and experience all that the world of music has to offer.

If you could teach anything using your art form, what would it be? If I could teach anything to my students, I would want to teach them nuggets to help develop and improve their discipline, humility, vocal skill, and leadership skills. This is what is needed and will help them go far in the industry.

“Minor Mood”, Major Chops: The All American Jazz Collective

Imagine eating lunch under the shade of an old oak tree, the mellow sounds of John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk wafting around you from a quintet sitting adjacent in the park. How melodious. How cosmopolitan. How All American.

Well, I have news for you: You can do just such a thing on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) every other Friday this coming fall when the All American Jazz Collective starts playing again. This loose quintet–sometimes a quartet, sometimes a sextet or more–plays on campus as well as various community gathering places around Fayetteville.

Jazz has a long history in the state. Coltrane hailed from High Point, Monk from Rocky Mount. Nina Simone is from Tryon, Billy Strayhorn spent formative years in Hillsborough. The NC Arts Council maintains a trail through eastern North Carolina dedicated to these luminaries and their stories. Perhaps we can get Fayetteville on the map: trumpeter Waymon Reed is from here. So the All American Jazz Collective is carrying on a proud North Carolinian tradition.

All American Jazz Collective
One lineup of the AAJC, Pappas far left, Carey in middle. Photo courtesy Anthony Russell.

AAJC started performing together in the fall of 2017. Co-founder Daniel Pappas mused, “Fayetteville had lots of R&B or Smooth jazz, even some fusion, but we wanted to do traditional jazz music.” Pappas moved here five years ago to teach and now runs the music department at FTCC. Jazz wasn’t his main musical focus before teaching at FTCC. “I felt I could speak about it better if I played it,” he chuckled. And with the wide spectrum of jazz styles, musicians, and songs to choose from, there is always something to play or to improvise around.

Jenne Carey, also a recent transplant to Fayetteville, and vocal instructor with FTCC, sings with AAJC. Jazz isn’t her background either–she’s a classically trained opera singer–but she jumped at the chance to grow her skills and range. “Ellington, Gershwin: these composers fused jazz with classical,” she enthused. The other members of the Collective vary from performance to performance. The March 2019 lineup at Holy Trinity included Jay Locklear on piano, Landon Oliver on organ, Anthony Russell on drums, and Willie Lockett (who is a former 82nd Airborne Bandmaster) on bass.

In addition to private functions, the AAJC has played at the opening of the Hope Mills Lake and with Sweet Tea Shakespeare. “I wish there was a jazz club here,” Pappas said. Hence the Friday Jazz Lunches and other community performances. Perhaps the new Jazzio’s restaurant on Bragg Blvd might be interested in the group to perform…

AAJC is an exciting contribution to the Fayetteville music scene. Pappas mentioned he was particularly enthusiastic about the Cape Fear New Music Festival, held at Methodist University in the Spring. Both Methodist and Fayetteville State University have strong music programs, including jazz studies. All these musical connections between educational establishments, bands, and individuals will make our city sound that much more rhythmic.

Kevin Ward: Tooting His Horn

From Low Brass to Army Brass to the Classroom, Ward is making a difference.

Art-form teachers tend to wear a lot of hats. Kevin Ward, Max Abbott Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020 school year, has a full rack: he teaches orchestra at the middle school, is an adjunct professor at Methodist University, and arranges sheet music for Lindsey Sterling. On top of that, he promised his Mom, who passed away in 2018, that he’d continue his education, which he’s doing by pursuing a doctorate in curriculum instruction. “I want to have a huge dash on my tombstone. I want to make sure I’m making a difference,” Ward bashfully shares.

We sat down in the MAMS cafeteria recently to talk about middle school orchestra and his path from the Army to the classroom. After playing around the world, he wound up in Fayetteville as his last duty post. A few months prior to retiring in 2017, the MAMS orchestra teacher position opened up. “I was very interested, but couldn’t commit because I wasn’t finished in the Army yet,” Ward explained. “Mrs. Crenshaw [MAMS Principal] called me again in November and said, “Well, the teacher we hired didn’t work out, so the position is open if you still want it.”” Now he was out of the Army and could tackle the challenge of a middle-school orchestra program. This school year, he took the orchestra to the NC Music Educator’s Association Music Performance Adjudication contest in Raleigh for the first time in seven years. He had eight students chosen by audition for the Junior Eastern Region Orchestra. Some of his students play with the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

photo provided by Kevin Ward

Arranging music began in the Army. “I had to think outside the box about these arrangements” because of the potentially random assortments of instruments a particular performance might have. He did over 350 arrangements and compositions for the Army; it was through this work he met Lindsey Sterling. “I wanted to arrange a piece of hers for our holiday concert, so asked her permission. She liked the work I did so much, she asked me to do more.” It helps that he enjoys listening to a wide variety of music, from more traditional orchestral pieces to the crossover electronica of Sterling to harder rock.

Ward’s favorite instrument is the tuba and he also plays trumpet, french horn, and euphonium. Photo provided by Kevin Ward.

At heart, his genuine care for his students shines through. He’s researching the cognitive benefits of musical education for middle school students. He is actively fundraising for new chairs for his classroom on, the sort of equipment cost that will make a huge difference for the students but the school system is not able to budget for. He is still teaching privately at Music and Arts on Morganton Road. His work on the Methodist University campus alerts him to opportunities for his middle school students, like the summer youth camps.

There is no doubt Ward is making a difference, for both his students and his fellow musicians. He would love for his next career step to be County Arts Coordinator for the entire school system. No doubt he’ll be able to make an even bigger, even better difference in such a role.