Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about your background?

My name is Holly Dalrymple, and I’m the Director of Choral Activities here at Southwestern. I have been in music education since 2003. I completed my undergrad at Texas State, where I started in 1999. Before that, though, I started at Texas A&M University as a pre-vet biomedical science major. I had no intention of studying music until I was already in college. I always loved to sing, and I played a lot of instruments, so I had a ton of music in my life but no formal training.

What inspired you to pursue a career in music education and choral conducting, and why did you want to be a professor?

I was more interested in sports and science and had not planned to major in music, but then I took choir for a fine arts credit after quitting volleyball due to a shoulder injury. I met the Director of Choirs at Southwest Texas (now Texas State University) during high school. He said, in a year, when you change your mind, you need to study music, and I’m going to give you a scholarship, and I was like, I’m not going to do that. But, he said in one year, when you change your mind, and a year to the day, he was right. So I made a very sudden move. I finished that semester at A&M, and in the fall of ’99, I started at Texas State and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Music Education and Choral Studies, secondary focus from sixth grade through 12th grade. I got a teaching job at Plano ISD at Bowman middle school, and I taught public school for a while, and then I decided that I wanted to be a professor. So I knew to do that, I needed to get a doctorate. I did a master’s in choral conducting at the University of Texas in Austin. Then I did my doctorate at the University of North Texas in Denton, finished in 2013, and got a tenure track job at the University of Wyoming, where I taught for nine years. My family is from Georgetown, and I haven’t lived near them in years, so when a friend texted me about this job, I saw an opportunity to continue my academic career and live near my family, which rarely happens. You don’t choose where you go, you go where there’s a job, and you hope that you like it and you hope that you can make it work, so I got really lucky when this job became available, and I received the offer to work here.

What classes do you teach?

I am the conductor of the choirs. We have three choral ensembles. We have the Southwestern Chorale, SU Chorale, and there’s an auditioned group of men and women together, with about 30 in that group. I also teach conducting both the introductory level for all people, whether the entire orchestra or general music, that’s open to anyone with the theory knowledge to do it. I also teach an advanced choral conducting class for those who are going to go into the craft.

How have you enjoyed your time at Southwestern thus far?

I really like the students here. It’s a different student than I have taught before. They are really diverse-minded. And I like that. They’re bright, they’re eager, and they’re interesting.

What are you looking forward to in the coming semesters?

We’re going to host a high school festival where we’re going to have 300 students on campus. It’s not just about recruitment; it’s about community service, where our students will serve as the hosts. We’ll be there for a full day of workshops, vocal pedagogy, and voice science techniques. I’ll bring my guitar, do camp sing-alongs, and then learn choral pieces together. We’ll probably do one for girls, one for boys, and one for everybody and then have a final informal concert. Also, our students will sing for them. I’d like to call it informants, where high school students will hear a first-year, a sophomore, a junior, and a senior so they can see how their voice will progress. I also want to increase the program numbers and create a culture in the choral and vocal areas so that it is customary for students to sing in one of the choirs. I want to open that door wide so it is accessible. I want students to know that everybody is welcome and that you don’t have to have previous experience. You don’t have to know how to read music because I will teach you how to do those things. So if you enjoy singing at any level, you can come to check it out.

Outside of choral music, what is your favorite genre of music?

I really love Radiohead, but I also love rap and R&B, which is surprising for the students to learn about me. I enjoy indie and alternative music too. I’m also a big fan of artists like singer-songwriters, and I love bluegrass.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I like to be outside. I love animals which is something everyone knows about me. I’ve always thought I would like to open a rescue in retirement or if I ever had the means. So that’s a big thing for me, finding ways to talk about animal rights and the humane treatment of animals. I was involved in the Animal Welfare Society back in Laramie, Wyoming. My choir students often volunteered there, cleaning litter boxes and playing with the kittens and things like that. I’m also a bit of a house remodeler. I’ve flipped three houses now.

What is something students would be surprised to learn about you?

I think the fact that I didn’t have formal music training until college, most people that do what I do, have been doing this since they were children, whereas I’m entirely self-taught.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like people to know about you?

I want students to know that I’m an ally, an advocate for all students and all identities. I want to affirm those things in my spaces. Sometimes choral music can be really affirming to one group and oppressing to another simultaneously. Some people feel alienated because they don’t see themselves in it. So I want students to know they can come to me for absolutely anything.

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