In Praise of Happy Accidents

In Praise of Happy Accidents:
Annette Lambrecht is the Winner of the 2017 NAfME/
Sweet Adelines International Music Educator Award

By Lisa Ferber

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Teaching Music Magazine.

Annette Lambrecht fell into music through a happy accident.

“I was about four-and-a-half years old, and it was the summer before kindergarten,” says the winner of the 2017 NAfME/Sweet Adelines International Music Educator Award. “I fell and broke my arm, and part of the physical therapy was taking piano lessons, so I could write. And that’s how I got started in music: I loved the piano, and I loved my music teacher.”

From there, her love of teaching came quickly. “I knew pretty early on [that I wanted to be a teacher.] I was fortunate enough that all of my music teachers have been incredible, and I just knew that this is what I wanted.”

Annette Lambrecht
Annette Lambrecht, Music Teacher, Sterling High School, Sterling, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Sweet Adelines International

Lambrecht was born and raised in Sterling, Colorado, and now teaches at Sterling High School, where she attended school years before. She graduated from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, majoring in music education; went on to finish her Bachelor’s degree at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction in K–12 music education with choir, band, and orchestra endorsements; and then achieved her Master’s degree in educational leadership at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado.

“Make sure you are always prepared for every scenario.”

She has maintained her 13-year career in the RE-1 Valley School District, where she teaches choir and theater (presentation and musical theater), as well as guitar. Lambrecht has a men’s choir, a women’s choir, a jazz choir, two theater classes, and a guitar class—and she has had many of the same students for years. “I started at the elementary level, and I moved up with them to middle school, and then moved up to high school. A lot of my students I have followed since they were kindergarteners.” She also has an afterschool children’s chorale group of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. “I keep them because I love teaching them,” she says. Lambrecht is the oldest of three siblings, and she says both of her sisters are music teachers as well.

Annette Lambrecht
Annette Lambrecht with students at the Region 8 Sweet Adeline Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming in May 2017 Photo credit: Jon Read Photography.

The Sweet Adelines award is given to a music teacher within the organization who exemplifies teaching the art of barbershop; not only to the chorus, but the surrounding community as well. Lambrecht, who notes that her students range in age from 12 to 82, got hooked on the sound of barbershop when a teacher invited her to a local rehearsal. “There is no accompaniment, there is no instrument—it’s simply voices that come together to create harmony,” she says. As for working with students for such a long time, Lambrecht remarks, “It’s nice because you get to know both them and their families long term, and you get to build a relationship with them. When you have them over the course of time, you get to know their strengths and you can help them all out.”

Lambrecht, who has been a NAfME member for about 15 years, says, “Whenever I am asked about the relationship between Sweet Adelines Chorus and my students, I think of it as an inspiring community partnership. They support each other, they go to each other’s events, and they want to give memorable performances.”

One tip Lambrecht shares for others in the profession: “Just make sure you are always prepared for every scenario: Put every scenario in your head, and things seem to work out.”

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Elizabeth Baker, Social Media Coordinator and Copywriter. January 27, 2018. © National Association for Music Education (