Dr. Usher: A New Note for Roswell Chorus

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Dr. Usher’s 26th year teaching will begin at Roswell. photo by: Dr. Stanton Usher

Tara Goff, Graphics Co-Captain

Mrs. Williams, former choral teacher, said goodbye to Roswell High School this year, but left students in the qualified hands of Dr. Usher. Originally from Conyers, Georgia, Dr. Usher has travelled all over the state to get certified to teach. He first attended Paine University, a Historically Black College and University in Augusta, to receive his bachelor’s degree in music education. This was followed by a master’s degree in music education and choral music performance at Georgia State and a doctorate in sacred music at Covington Theological Seminary. Finally, to get a more competitive education degree, he attended the University of Arizona for a doctorate in choral conducting. Now, in his 26th year of teaching, he is at Roswell.  

The Sting sat down with Dr. Usher to get more insight on his background, as well as his current experience at Roswell. 

Sting: What got you into music in the first place? 

Dr. Usher: Everyone in my family was a musician, immediate and extended, and we had a family choir. When I was eight years old, my church was getting a new piano, so my grandfather purchased the old piano for me. Whenever I was at choir rehearsal at church, I was always trying to figure things out on the piano. I can never remember doing anything else. 

S: When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? 

U: I never wanted to be anything else. I’m the youngest of five. I always made my brothers and sisters stand on the steps in our den and I played music teacher. I was 11. 

S: Tell me about your experience teaching musical theatre. How does it compare to chorus? 

U: So, chorus is my first love. When I was a junior in college, in undergrad, I started teaching at the Augusta Mini Theater. I was teaching voice and would do the music for our productions. That’s where I got my start, but even in high school I was in musicals. I taught middle and high school theatre, and even just along with teaching chorus, I have always been the musical theatre director for voice at whatever school I was in. 

S: What is your favorite part about teaching chorus? 

U: It would probably be introducing students to music that’s not of their own culture, or even from their own country. For example, we sang the Makedonska (a Macedonian folksong) in chamber chorus at the fall concert. This makes students more culturally aware of themselves and others, and unifies students. 

S: What has impressed you most since coming to Roswell? 

U: I do really like the level of commitment of the students. They have a vested interest not only in chorus but the arts in general. The overall support that the arts receive, from the principal and the community, has been impressive as well. 

S: What can we look forward to from your classes?  

U: Many, many new adventures. Innovative concerts and performances that are not just the norm. Things that are different. 

Just as Dr. Usher is enjoying his start at Roswell, the students have enjoyed the new start. Junior Talaya Thomas, a member of chamber chorus, appreciates the changes, especially how “he has integrated new shows into our schedule.” She goes on to say that she “appreciates his honesty and his vision in regards to knowing our potential to be better.”