I am naturally “good with kids”: I love being around them and I understand their attention spans and what keeps them interested in whatever topic I’m presenting. I am also a good critique; however, I am not a very good coach for myself. I do not take criticism very well and need to work on understanding that they are only critiquing me because they want to see me be the best that I can be.
At Oaks Christian High School, my alma mater, one student every year is presented with the “Dallas Price-Van Breeda Award for Artistic Excellence” at graduation. I had the privilege of being the class of 2012’s recipient. The following is the script the head of the arts department, Mr. Brian Kelly, read when presenting the award.
“…Our arts faculty unanimously decided that this year one student stood out from the rest. Here are some words that have been used to describe this student: reliability, character, integrity, talent, versatility, kindness, authentic faith, willing servant, cheerful, faithful and loyal.
The recipient of this year’s Dallas Price-Van Breeda Award for Artistic Excellence is Sarah Hiepler.
Sarah came to us in 6th grade as a beginning strings student under the direction of Mrs. Mary Kay Altizer – and was the only bassist in a sea of violinists. From that day on, she has continued participating in our orchestral programs throughout middle school and high school.
She has proven to be a faithful and committed member to our frequent musical theater pit orchestras where often times she has anchored the section on her own. We have all witnessed her diligence and conscientiousness in the study of the bass throughout her high school years. Not only was Sarah involved in the High School Orchestra, but she also was a member of the Oaks Chamber Strings, an honors ensemble, and branched out into the area of playing both stand-up and electric bass in the Jazz Combo.
Eventually Sarah began to set her sights on the area of composing and arranging. In the past two years, Sarah composed string arrangements for our annual Spring Spectacular, scoring a Disney piece and a jazz standard, and wrote a jazz arrangement which included both rhythm and horn sections.
As well as her dedication to our performing arts department, Sarah has maintained a very strong academic program while excelling not only in the area of fine arts, but in sports and cheerleading as well. She has been able to maintain balance while seeming to excel in so many areas.
Sarah does not shy away from responsibility, as she has been a member of the bass section of the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Orchestra for the past two years. Currently she serves as our principal bassist in the Oaks Christian Orchestra. Not only does she work well with those who are less advanced, but also eagerly accepts instruction.
She is dedicated, reliable, consistent, and diligent. Sarah is a young woman of the highest character and integrity. This fall Sarah will continue her bass and music studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Personally, Sarah is one of the all-time nice students. She is very well loved and respected by her peers, as well as by the faculty at Oaks Christian. She always shows up on time and well prepared. She is easy to work with and is both respectful and teachable.
Last summer, I was asked to volunteer as the first grade teacher at my church’s summer kids camp. Thrown into the world of lesson planning, glue sticks and freeze tag, I realized my passion lied in teaching and children. Looking back, I am very grateful I had the opportunity to be my high school’s varsity cheer captain because I was already naturally animated, engaging and comfortable “performing” in front of my 22 first graders. Therefore, I decided to pair my two strengths–music and teaching–and major in music education. A few years from now, I see myself teaching music at an elementary school or conducting a high school orchestra, performing on the side, picking up classical, musical theater, jazz, or rock gigs as often as possible. If you hear of any schools in need of a passionate, fun-loving music teacher, or a musical group that needs a sub, here’s my card. Thank you for your time.
I am a “people pleaser”; I love people and making people happy. This can be an advantage and a disadvantage. I am joyful and good with relationships and building networks. When I see a need, I need to fill it. I like seeing other people happy, which can be a reason why being a “people pleaser” is a disadvantage to me. I hate being a disappointment to others; I feel really guilty when I let people down, even if the expectations are extremely high. I give myself a hard time. I do not take criticism very well because I can take it too personally or I can feel like a complete failure if the entire project was not completely perfect. I need to realize that my teacher, conductor, and friends are only trying to help me to get better when they offer advise or critique me. Having an outsider’s perspective will always help me achieve my goals faster than if I was having to critique myself alone.
I am never motivated to practice music in the early mornings or after 8; I need my sleep! I hate embarrassing myself in front of others so fear does play a minor role in motivating me to practice. I really motivate myself by wanting to become the best I can be. I often compare myself to others around me, which I try to avoid. I love stillness; it is very peaceful. I can’t work with background noise, such as television or even music with lyrics.
I value my relationship with my Lord and Savior, my family, my relationships with my friends, my character, and music. When I feel like slacking off or not caring about school, I remember Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (like teachers, parents, colleges etc.)”
As a Christian, I highly value finding God’s will for my future. At the moment, I believe it is being a teacher or a musician, neither of which have a hefty salary waiting for me at the end of of my schooling; however, as long as I am loving what I do, money will not be a big compromise for me.
I work best in a quiet area with few distractions, where I feel comfortable enough to woodshed specific excerpts and to experiment with the emotion I put into a piece; therefore, I work best when I’m alone. I do need “social breaks” at least every 45 minutes! If I’ve been working on a tough area for a long time and can’t seem to get it under my belt, I take a break. After coming back to that same troubling area an hour later or even the next day, I am then able to nail it!
This method may work for me because I forget about the stress of getting the music right the first time. I expect a lot from myself and assume that I should be good at something before getting a chance to work on it and giving myself time to digest new material. I need to work on being patient with myself and understand that some things take time to sink in and become habitual. Years of practice will have to go towards my technique and ear training before they will be acceptable to my standards, and I must understand that that is required from every other musician as well.
As an individual, I’ve always been multifaceted: playing on eleven different sports teams, socializing with multiple friend groups, being a leader in my community and loving an extreme amount of diverse musical genres.
This is why I love playing the bass: I can be integrated into any kind of ensemble as it is a versatile instrument, which fits my personality perfectly. As a musician, I am able to participate in a rock band, orchestra, jazz band, wind ensemble, pit orchestra and worship band all at the same time!
Being a multifarious musician, I’ve written many string arrangements accompanying a choir, a jazz tune for an eight-piece band, and taught a beginning bassist the basics of theory.
I am patient with my students, love music, and enjoy being involved in many different aspects of the music arena.