Tag Archive | Fine Arts Education

The Sound Of Music

Right now, I’m writing this blog listening to the film score from The Lone Ranger.

Perhaps you’re asking.. Umm.. what?!?!

You read that right.  John Williams radio on Pandora is my go-to when I need to drown out the world.. whether it’s my own thoughts, chatter, or negativity clouding my mind.  The violins, the drums, the SERENITY of these symphonic masterpieces help me focus and block out all the distractions trying to make their way in.  From this Hans Zimmer soundtrack piping through my earbuds, to Williams’ iconic (and for me, BELOVED) movie soundtracks.. music is my rock in these moments.

CLICK HERE if you need a zen moment.. and check out KETV’s feature on future violinists at the Omaha Conservatory of Music!  WARNING–you may DIE of cuteness overload!

Music represents even more for Kate Lynne Duncan, a UNK student and future music teacher.  In the soundtrack of her life, there’s a song for every milestone moment and she’s usually working on what will play next.  Music is her past, present and future.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Kate told me recently.  “I can’t imagine my education, or life, without music and I hope that my future students never have to.”

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It’s that love of performing that led Kate to the Miss Nebraska Organization; she’ll compete for the title in June as Miss Alliance 2016.  This is Kate’s third local title within the Miss America Organization, and she also competed as a teenager starting at the age of 14.

“I could not have paid for my first semester of college without the money I received from Miss Nebraska that fall,” said Kate.  “More recently, the scholarship money has helped pay off part of my student loan.  I have increased my self-confidence, poise, sharpened my interview skills and gained communication skills.  I really feel that I can tackle any job interview I encounter.”

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But neither pageants, nor college have just been about building to a final crescendo.  When I spoke with Kate last year as she served as Miss Sandhills (click here to read more!) she described the last few years as a metamorphosis in way because of all of her personal growth.  Kate is currently in her fourth year at the University of Nebraska Kearney where she is also a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, the Nebraska Association for Music Educators, the Thompson Scholar Learning Community and the National Association for Residence Hall Honorary (Kate is a third year Resident Assistant).

“I have enthusiasm, positivity, zeal and I encourage those around me,” said Kate.  “It may take a little coffee to wake me up, but I strive to put a smile on someone’s face each day.”

Kate credits that drive to a support network including her family, sorority sisters, and her boyfriend, Andrew.

 “I consider my mother to both my role model and one of my closest friends,” added Kate.  ” I would not stay sane with my hectic daily lifestyle if it wasn’t for her love, support and guidance.  She is always a phone call away and makes frequent 5+ hour drives to see me when I haven’t been able to make it home for a few months.”

Kate also has a close relationship with her father, nurtured by, of course, music.

“Editing my pageant music has become a bonding activity for my father and I,” said Kate.  “He knows the technological aspects of the software program, and I just sing through our cutting and help with the fine tuning of the audio.”

But Kate was to spread her music far beyond the Miss Nebraska Pageant; she’s devoted this to her personal platform called ‘Please Don’t Stop The Music: the importance of fine arts education in schools.’

“I’ve built many connections in my hometown, college town and across the state that will enable me to participate in events and reach out to schools,” said Kate.

So back to John Williams (and by the way, the score from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is now playing).. for anyone who’s never followed it, the Miss Nebraska Pageant is truly MUSIC in a way.. it’s the union of different sounds and styles to create one symphonic masterpiece.  This organization highlights women with various backgrounds, talents and visions that when brought together, empower and inspire everyone who witnesses it.

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These women make MUSIC together.  And Kate Duncan is on a mission to remind all of us how much the world needs that.

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CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Alliance 2016 Kate Lynne Duncan

on FACEBOOK, on TWITTER, on INSTAGRAM

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KATE?

CLICK HERE * 2015 * Madame Butterfly

For more information about the Miss Alliance Pageant, visit FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Riki Cornish Hunter by email at riki.hunter@farmcoop.com or by phone at 308-430-4355.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Douglas County 2016 Savannah Rave!

NEXT.. Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Hannah Miller!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Dancing Queen

I have been a performer (coughcough a show off coughcough) since I could smile for photos.  In every old-school VHS home movie, I’m the loud one trying to get my Dad’s attention, singing, or making up a dance (and forcing my brothers to join in).  In junior high I LOVED choir and show choir.. a passion that continued into high school, along with theater and speech.  I did not, however, ever take dance.. and it shows.  I am NOT good.

That being said, for someone who knows nothing technically about it, I am MESMERIZED by dance.  Telling a story without words, transmitting emotions through movement, so many backgrounds and styles, all connected yet all so different.

For an Omaha woman, dancing isn’t just a hobby, it’s been part of her soul for as long as she can remember.

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MISS HEARTLAND 2015 STEFFANI JIROUX

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I started dancing since I was the ripe age of two and a half.  Basically, I went from getting comfortable with walking into learning how to point my toes in a short time,” Steffani told me recently.  “Ever since that first class, I fell in love with the art form of dance.  I realized that it stimulates my brain and body at the same time while capturing every emotion I could feel.  It is a beautiful way to express myself, and now it is a part of me.”

It’s a piece of her heart that Steffani shares every time she steps onto a stage.. which she does a lot.  She’s danced at the collegiate level, as backup for Weird Al, and as you see below, for classic ballet performances.

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Steffani competing at the Miss Nebraska Pageant in 2013 as Miss Lincoln & performing in a recent production

“Dance is my first love,” said Steffani, who in the last year alone has starred as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and the lead in Paquita.  “It is the thing I go to when I need a boost, and the stage is the place where I can say with the utmost truth, I feel alive.  I truly live for the moment I step out of the light, BOOM, and await my music.  It is those seconds where both nerves and enthrallment combine; it’s the moment you can hear a pin drop; it is the time I feel nothing but myself and God and where time seems to stop.  With that, I am confident in saying that being able to share my talent with others is my favorite thing to do.  It is sharing something that God has granted me, and in that I cannot ask for anything more.”

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Steffani danced throughout her undergrad years at Creighton University, cheering on the sidelines of all home basketball games at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center (including for now NBA basketball player Doug McDermott).  She’s still at Creighton, immediately pursuing her law degree after earning her BSBA in Management.  Steffani plans to become an entertainment attorney.

“I think versatility is an element of uniqueness and I strive to fulfill it,” said Steffani.  “Some can’t understand how the world of law intrigues me as a dancer and someone who likes to wear a lot of pink.  Now, my nickname is Legally Blonde (and fun fact, I had already owned a chihuahua, Shadow, since I was 2).  I am okay with that because it is a movie about embracing being yourself in a world that clings to conformity.  No matter what, purely being yourself will guide you to your ultimate goals.”

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That is a message Steffani is now bringing to young people as Miss Heartland, in addition to her personal platform ‘Arts For Academic Excellence; The Benefits of Fine Arts In The Education Of Our Youth’.

“I have been graced with the opportunity to partake in many forms of art, and I realize just how beneficial it has been throughout my life,” said Steffani.  “I have started a service project called Tutus N’ Dance Shoes, where I set up boxes in dance studios around Omaha in order to collect lightly used dance wear and shoes.  I organize them and bring them to dance programs where the children don’t necessarily have the means to buy a new pair of tap shoes because they grew out of their last one or just don’t have the means in general to afford the necessities dance requires.”

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Steffani says she didn’t just wake up one day and decide to compete for Miss Nebraska, nor did she realize, as she puts it, that her lifestyle and experiences were preparing her for this role and competition.  In a way, this adventure is simply another stage for Steffani to showcase her passions.

“The Miss America Organization provides brilliant young women with an opportunity to share their voices, touch others, and be the change they hope to see in the world,” said Steffani.  “As Miss Heartland, I know that I can truly be myself through every step of the way.  We are all ourselves, we are all so different and have so much to offer.  I can honestly say that I present myself and act with the utmost respect everyday; none of that changes when we affix the sparkle upon our head.  Competing to me means making a difference and making the days of all the new faces I see while on an appearance.”

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Now, this law student, volunteer and dancing queen wants to stay in the spotlight.. but on a MUCH bigger stage.

“Being Miss Nebraska would be absolutely fulfilling,” said Steffani.  “Because making everyone else’s day a bit brighter is my dream job.”

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(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

Follow Miss Heartland 2015 Steffani Jiroux and contact her for appearances and events

on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Chelsey Jungck at 308-382-1710 or by email at cjungck@statefair.org.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant will take place June 3-6, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website, to visit the pageant on Facebook, to follow the pageant on Twitter, and to follow the pageant on Instagram.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Scotts Bluff County 2015 Brittany Eckerberg

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County 2015 Alyssa Howell

To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.