Let this be music to your ears. Centralia College has a new choir director. Vicki Jardine Tobin joined the team this past spring bringing her love of music and years of teaching experience to a small but mighty band of singers. The term ended on a high note, and Tobin says she’s “looking to build (the program) by leaps and bounds.” Her students come from around the world and range in age from Running Start high schoolers to people eligible for Social Security. “It’s fun,” Vicki said of teaching.
Tobin had a grand vision for her first quarter teaching in Centralia. While she settled into her new position, she was also teaching a choral group at Pierce College. Both classes were learning some of the same pieces, including Vivaldi’s challenging “Gloria,” which is in Latin. The plan was to end the term with two concerts – one for each college – with the combined voices of both choirs. Tobin arranged for a 12-piece orchestra to accompany the singers. There was a single joint rehearsal that culminated with two concerts. Students loved meeting each other, sharing stories and creating new depths with their combined voices. The results were so successful that plans are in the works for duo performances at the end of fall quarter.
Music has been part of Vicki’s life since she was a child. She explained that everyone in her hometown of Deer River, Minnesota, was taught to read music. “Everyone played something,” she added. They also sang. Her studies continued through college. Tobin received a Masters in Choral Conducting and Piano from the University of Colorado.
Three years ago when Vicki’s husband John retired from a career in the army, they returned to Olympia. They moved back into a house they had purchased 16 years ago, which had been rented while they were away. It was the home where their two children grew up, attended and then graduated from Olympia High School. “We fell in love with the Pacific Northwest,” said Vicki. Though they were tempted to move back to Minnesota where family lived, the Tobins decided to return to Olympia.
As many in this area know, life in the military means frequent moves. The Tobins moved 14 times in 28 years. It’s interesting to note that although they moved with great regularity, Vicki has continuously taught music at the college level for 30 years. This includes more than three years in Europe working with various choral groups. She has been at Pierce College for the past three years, teaching music theory, music appreciation, choir, piano and voice. As if that’s not enough, she also works through Central Texas College at JBLM. Central Texas College has been working with military personnel for 50 years with on-site locations on military bases across the U.S. Vicki, who knows first hand about the disruptions that happen in a military family, especially enjoys teaching there. Her humanities classes supply the necessary credits for many to complete their degrees. Vicki knows that the student’s time at two-year colleges goes by swiftly. She knows it is essential to make the most of very minute.
Vicki and I met on the first day of her summer vacation. She sported a huge smile as she pondered the prospect of hiking and kayaking with John. There will also be time to be in her garden. You can imagine the time and energy it requires to drive up and down I-5 from Pierce College to Centralia College with stops at JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord). Then there’s teaching the classes!
Vicki has gives private lessons in piano and voice. This non-stop schedule creates a constant stream of music playing in her head. I imagine she’ll still be involved with listening to music, one way or another, but the pace will be a bit easier. It’s true that summer is just getting underway, but it not too early to mark your calendars for December’s concerts when the two colleges will join forces again to celebrate wonderful music. Another idea is that you might want to join a class.