Fine Arts Faculty Spotlight: Choir Teacher David Muller
Hi Mr. Muller! We are so excited to have you here at Jupiter Christian as our Choir Teacher for Upper School. This is your first full year at JCS and you have already made such an impact on our music program and especially on the students you teach.
We know you came to JCS after graduating from Liberty University. Tell us a little bit about your musical background growing up and your experiences at Liberty before joining the faculty here.
I grew up in Seattle WA, which is where I first discovered my love for music. In elementary school I was a part of choir, piano, and guitar classes and in middle and high school I was 1st chair Middle School All-Region Choir and accepted to the Pre-Area and Area rounds of the Texas All-State Auditions. My dream was to be a Texas All-Stater like my father, but when he received a faculty position at Liberty University, we picked up and moved to Virginia. During my senior year of high school, I was selected as 1st Delegate to the Virginia All-State Chorus. I went on to study at Liberty University where I was a member of the Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Wayne Kompelien, who was also my private vocal instructor. Throughout college, I competed in the NATS Vocal Competition at both the State and Regional levels.
Can you share your personal testimony in coming to know Jesus Christ? How does that impact what you do each day and how you interact with your students?
My mother led me to the Lord at the young age of five. She led me through the prayer of salvation and I've been developing my relationship with the Lord ever since. Each day is a gift from the Lord and an opportunity to glorify Him. As a teacher, I strive to be an encourager, to be a good listener when my students need me to be, and to work hard each day to be a better educator for them.
What exciting things are happening in JCS Choir this year and can you give us a sneak peek at what is to come for the big Spring Concert?
I think one of the most exciting things in our choir program right now is the traditions we are building. We often have a lot of fun inside the classroom, all with purpose, and it helps us grow closer as an ensemble. Our choir has been invited to attend an opera in Ft. Lauderdale, which is a really amazing opportunity that I am looking forward to. For the Spring Concert, I had the parents and students in mind when I selected repertoire. We are going to be pulling songs up from the last few decades and I think the students will pull it off really well! My goal this year was to take a year off from the classical choral music so that students could be revitalized a little bit before mixing it back up next year.
Can you share with us a bit about what the curriculum looks like in Upper School Choir and where do you see us expanding in academic excellence in music education at JCS in the next year?
As all music educators know, the repertoire is the foundation for the curriculum. It takes me a long time to select pieces for the choirs because I want to make sure that the necessary content knowledge can be found in those pieces. I supplement the repertoire with the Florida Vocal Association's vocabulary lists that can be connected back to the pieces that we work on. This year is really a stepping stone for the next few years as we are looking to have a stronger presence at the All-State auditions in the fall, and start attending MPA and the State Solo and Ensemble competitions in the winter and spring. There is a high amount of skill needed in both musicianship and content knowledge to do well at these events, so we are excitedly taking steps to reach that level in our choral program.
How do you teach choir from a Christian perspective and what do you hope your students get out of the experience of a Fine Arts education through a biblical lens?
One of my favorite ways to teach choir from a Biblical perspective is to share with my students that music is a tool of ministry. I want students to learn that their gifts and talents in music can be used to minster to others. It is worthwhile to develop these skills because of the powerful affect that beautiful music can have: humbling the hardest of hearts and beginning to mend the deepest of wounds. I could sum it up in a simple phrase: "It's not about us (the performers)." Finally, I have seen a lot of programs that focus so much on finessing the smallest of details, even if everyone hates each other by the end. It becomes more about the product than the journey. I want students to know that music is JOY.
Beyond music at JCS, you also coach Cross Country. At JCS we believe that athletics is an excellent environment to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ and become more like Him through the testing of our faith. Tell us about coaching at JCS, how your team is doing this year, and how your student athletes are developing traits of Christian character such as diligence, responsibility, and good sportsmanship.
The two things I wanted to do as a teacher were to coach cross country and have students in the All-State choir. I must say, getting BOTH of those things in my first year of teaching has truly brought the biggest smile to my face. Coaching cross country at JCS has been a joy because I am really supported by the Athletic Department. I think in cross country, and sports in general, there are so many parallels to life. Characteristics that are needed in your relationship with Christ are being built during practice. Diligence, integrity, dedication, and responsibility are a few examples of what student athletes end up developing in cross country. Students have to decide to keep going, keep teammates accountable to do complete the workouts, keep a positive attitude, be on time, be prepared, communicate well, and most of all, show up.
You are well loved by your students and they have such a fun time learning in your classes. Many students describe you as their "favorite" teacher. In that spirit, let us in on some of your favorites...Favorite song of all time? Favorite movie? Favorite musical? Favorite JCS memory so far? Favorite Bible Verse? Favorite snack? Favorite TV show? Favorite book?
Favorite Song: Violin Sonata in A Major, 4th Movement, by Cesar Franck. This is a very special song to me because I believe, whether the composer intended it to or not, it shares the gospel through music. Musically, I believe a listener can hear the glory of God, a human’s rebellion, God's relentless pursuit, and His ultimate victory in the end. It's a piece I think every person should sit and dwell on for a moment.
Favorite Movie: Anne of Green Gables (1985 Series)
Favorite Musical: Into the Woods
Favorite JCS Memory: There are so many already! From the 2019 Spring Concert where I heard my students in balcony ROARING when I walked out on stage at the end of the concert to fall 2020, when I shared the good news with my student Lily Warren that she had made the ALL-STATE CHOIR! My first student to make it!
Favorite Bible Verse: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore, my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song." Psalm 28:7 (HCSB)
Favorite Snack: Oreos and Peanut Butter/ COOKIES (all my students know)
Favorite TV Show: Blackmirror
Favorite Book: Ray Bradbury is my favorite author - Favorite Book was the Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.