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Music Man Hits the Right Notes

By Staff | Aug 17, 2016

Photo by Miles Layton Tyler Schools music educator Bryce Negie enfuses lessons that make his students smile as they perform in his choir class.

MIDDLEBOURNE Music educator Bryce Negie lightly tapped the chords of his piano on Monday as he led an angelic chorus that was performing “My Home Among the Hills” a song that resonates with all true Mountaineers.

Though classes had begun Tyler Consolidated High School last week, the students sang in perfect unison a song that taps at the heart’s chords:

“There’s a land of rolling mountains

Where the sky is blue above

And though I may roam, I hurry home

To those friendly hills I love.”

Though the verse lasted for a few short moments, the music sounded like a polished European youth choir that might perform hymns in one of the churches where the acoustics last for days, and then someone’s voice cracked or fell flat. All part of the process as Negie joked with his students while their voices moved up and down the scale to find that perfect sound.

Getting teen voices to sing together in harmony can be as hard as organizing the troops to win gridiron games or relay team members to pass the baton with perfect precision. And that’s why Negie deserves this honor as the Tyler Star News Teacher of the Week. For video, see the Tyler Star News Facebook site.

“My inspiration comes from a love of music and seeing people grow in their understanding of music,” Negie said. “I was raised in a musical family and was either singing or humming something all the time. I didn’t realize I wanted to teach until my sophomore year of high school when I did a tutoring project for the National Honor Society. After I saw I could help people understand concepts and enjoyed helping people grow, I figured, “Hey, I should put these together.”

Math may build bridges, but music stirs souls. Negie, 27, began teaching four years ago for the Tyler school system. He teaches choir, piano, music theory and anything more that can help a student understand the beauty that sound and song has to offer. Negie said there has been no one single “best” moment so far in his teaching career.

“I have too many to really select one,” he said. “Seeing the Silver Knights’ choir take second place at a music competition would be up there. Also, seeing one of the seniors win Outstanding Student Accompanist (Bryan Day Jr.) on an instrument he never played and I taught him on was amazing. One that comes every year, however, is seeing all the hard work my students put into their work and the concerts. I pull a lot from them and require some hard work, but it is a moment when I just enjoy the moment and let everything else just disappear.”

Lawyers, doctors and most anyone who has dedicated their life to chosen line of work may have doubts from time to time. Teachers are no different, but not this one.

“Not really. I feel this is where I belong,” Negie said.

Negie said he sees something special in kids faces in the moment they learn something you taught.

He said, “Absolutely! Something that resembles, ‘I can do this!’ Especially after it is something they have been struggling to achieve.”

The first musical Negie remembers seeing was “Cats” about, well, a bunch of cats, but much much more. Even Barbra Streisand like the musical’s hit song “Memories” enough to record her own version. But “Rent” would be his favorite musical.

“I love Cats! because it was the first musical I remember seeing,” he said. “By far my favorite would be Rent, however. I love that it speaks of accepting others for their differences and forgiving. With a dash of standing for what you believe.”

And there is the classics. Who is the better composer Amadeus Mozart or John Williams.

“I love John Williams’ work, but Mozart would have to win this one,” Negie said. “He was a child prodigy, composing at a young age, and essentially set the foundation for music composed today (including John Williams). I joke and say he is very frilly and fluffy, but Mozart poured out more music in a short life than most do in a full lifetime.”

Only a Sith Lord would disagree with that sentiment.

As to Negie, let’s hope he has a long tenure in his home among the hills of Tyler County.