"At Angel Music Studios we create learning experiences which enable students to become interdependent artists, inspire parents to be healthy advocates and gather communities to support and encourage music-making."
- Angelina Van Dyke
I want to share some milestones of my vocation as a teacher and musician. Some of you have musical dreams and aspiration just like I did and still do. Some of you have intuitions that you don’t have words to express. Whether you’re a child, a parent or an adult student reigniting an old passion, I hope that my shared experience will give you a long term view of both music as a profession and a way of developing character.
Musical Exploration and Exhilaration
Just like a bird, I loved to sing as a young child, racing through the tall grass in my backyard in South Surrey, British Columbia with shouts and chirps of delight. My love for playing music began when I heard my mother play “Chopsticks” on the piano. She brought me to piano lessons where I had a lot of fun at first, until the notes no longer had finger numbers in my lesson book anymore! My teacher finally noticed the problem, and years of private piano lessons ensued, during which I acquired my Royal Conservatory Piano Performer’s Certificate and began teaching my own piano students. In addition, my high school choir director inspired me with her Gilbert and Sullivan productions, in which I sang pant roles like Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore and the Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance. This awakened theatrical and vocal sides to my musicianship. As an undergraduate in Trinity Western’s Music program I pursued a double instrument major in piano and minor in voice, and sang with the university Concert and Chamber Choirs and had many orchestral experiences with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It was exhilarating for me to be the stage I had dreamed of performing on ever since I had gone to the symphony with my parents and teachers.
Leaving the Nest
Outward Travels and Worldview Expansion
After finishing my professional development program at Simon Fraser University (1995), I went to Alberta to teach a grade 9 class in a southern Alberta K-9 parochial school. This experience brought me to my knees in recognizing my limitations, and a trip to China to smuggle Bibles with Brother Andrew’s Open Door Ministries opened my eyes to a bigger world, vision and dream for my life. Two years later I was on a plane to Japan, with a job teaching ESL to toddlers, BMW CEOs and everyone in between. There I joined Tokyo International Singers and performed Haydn’s Creation as a soprano in the choir. I also took singing lessons from a Japanese opera singer in Tokyo, named Mikiko Hashimoto. She motivated me to work hard at singing, and wanted me to go to Italy to study to become a great opera singer, but my experiences in China and my missionary friends in Japan, had inspired me to seek missionary training. Once back in Canada, I enrolled in Providence Theological Seminary just outside of Winnipeg in the winter of 2000. That summer a friend asked me to to join her on a summer trip to Israel for an archeological dig, and the experience was unforgettable. We stayed in a kibbutz and dug at Tel Rehov for evidence of the Davidic Kingdom; we climbed Masada, floated in the Dead Sea, walked in knee-deep water through the dark in Hezekiah’s tunnel and were romanced by Palestinian jewellers. Travels to Italy, France and the UK since then have come from a place of stability, launching out from home to meet the singing opportunities afforded to me.
Returning home meant going back to Vancouver, teaching music, and making the money I needed to continue my education long distance. I left full-time studies at Providence to teach ESL in Vancouver, take part-time courses and start my own music studio. The inward journey began here, but the wings of my soul were not strong enough yet. I did not yet realize that certain things in life are not mutually exclusive, such as being both a musician and a teacher-missionary. My vocal mentor Joseph Shore and spiritual friends and mentors like Grace Wiebe, Dr. James Houston and Lorin Friesen helped me to see that individual uniqueness and beauty is an expression of God and His rest at being at home in me. Being a good artist or teacher is in itself an expression of God’s goodness. I learned that being a good teacher, whether teaching music or a new language, requires patience and practice. Helping students transition through their learning requires both sound pedagogy and sensitivity to their emotional needs. Nobody likes to struggle with feelings of inadequacy or be used as a trophy to show off their creative musical skills for someone else’s benefit. Because I have gone through these feelings and emotions myself, I can say that even if you feel invisible, or let music collect dust on the back shelf for a season, take flight. Dare to dream your dreams, even if it is to go to Italy and sing opera, like I did.
From the Inside Out
Music is an expression of the intentions of the composer wedded to the interpretation of the performer, and it is meant to be shared, compounding the joy. Performing music is one way of becoming more in tune with who you are, as it requires your whole mind, body and soul cooperating in an integrated fashion. When singers are aware of this, their singing communicates who they are inside, glorifying God and benefiting those who listen. Believing this, I continually challenge myself to learn new repertoire, putting on benefit concerts for causes like World Vision and Open Doors, and managing a professional chamber group called Augmented Five. Together with two classical recordings, one in sacred classical music and the other in opera, these performance opportunities provide vehicles to benefit audiences and those I nurture and teach.
Whether you are beginning to play piano or are discovering your voice, I am committed to developing students' talent and cultivating your inspiration. Revive your dreams, pursue pathways to future musical study or career, or aspire to open your own music studio. For me it's not just about teaching, I see my holistic calling is to help you take flight.