Posting Date: January 10, 2014
Meet Tory Bethune: A teacher with a passion for music
By Zola Matingu
photo by Shane McDonald
Music has always been a part of Tory Bethune’s life. She comes from a musical family and a long line of worship leaders on her mother’s side of her family. She didn’t get into music right away though. She explains, “My mother had me try gymnastics and cheerleading before I got seriously involved in music. Prior to that, I did a lot of singing with my family on birthday occasions – we would sing 'Happy Bbirthday' with several parts and harmonies.”
Tory has led worship at her local church since she was 15 years old, and developed her passion for music there over the next five years. After graduating from high school, her church youth pastor asked her to lead worship for the youth group. She took the position, and, in that role, she was able not only to mentor the youth spiritually, but also teach them how to interact with one other as band members.
Around that time, she found interest in the School of Music at KSU, but she was not sure at first if teaching music was really what she wanted to do. She says, “My goal was to find ways to communicate better through music, but I wasn’t sure about teaching at the beginning. As I started to take some courses, the idea of teaching music grew on me. My work as a worship leader and a mentor for my church youth group, combined with what I was learning in school, helped me to get on my current path.”
Pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in vocal education, this mezzo-soprano senior is very grateful for the knowledge she has acquired at KSU. Several faculty members have had a big impact on Tory’s learning, including Alison Mann, Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education, who sees great potential in Tory. Mann says, “Tory is a talented young teacher who has progressed musically and professionally as she nears student teaching. She is a very giving individual and this quality is exhibited professionally and personally through her actions with students and peers. I am confident that Tory will have a great impact on students for years to come and create life-long learners of music.”
Through her learning experience, many people have discerned Tory’s abilities, something that she is able to see in herself now. She admits that, at the beginning, she had challenges to be comfortable as a vocalist learning new facets of her potential. “I had to learn to trust what my professors said,” she explains. “I didn’t realize what potential I had until my professors pointed out what they saw in me. Then I started to believe their expertise, and I became more confident in my abilities. For example, Dr. Moses is the one who told me that I was really a mezzo-soprano, after listening to me sing. Up until then I thought I was an alto, but I was able to get used to this new concept in a short time."
As graduation is peaking on the horizon, Tory says that she is keeping her options open. She is studying to teach music, preferably at the middle- school level, but if another opportunity to perform comes along, she will take advantage of it.
Her piece of wisdom for anyone who wants to follow a path similar to hers? “Gear up, because it is a long ride, make sure you love it, trust your professors and put in the work. You have to be resilient; when you fail you have to bounce back, and don’t be afraid to be different. When it gets tough, remember why you started this program in the first place. Prayer helps me a lot too, as well as having a support system. You need to surround yourself with people who encourage you to be better at what you do, and who see the potential in you.”