CVCS is committed to excellence in the vocal and performing arts. As part of our vision to build a leading performing arts program in Orange County, we hired world-class music educator Ms. Rebecca Leftwich Hodson to provide the excellence in leadership to take this program to the next level. We recently sat down with Rebecca to learn more about her background and her exciting plans for the future of the program.
Who is Rebecca Leftwich Hodson?
I have been a music educator for 33 years, and I am passionate about teaching music and the arts to children and teenagers. I believe that music is an integral part of a liberal arts curriculum and the arts. It’s not just about a fun extra-curricular activity, it is an integral part of a liberal arts education, and even though our culture doesn’t always view it that way, it very much is a study of aesthetics and beauty, and it forms our understanding of who we are—made in God’s image, as creators, because we were made in the image of the Creator. So my focus is to allow students to develop their gifts and strengths to the glory of God, for them to understand that everything that we do is an act of worship and not just when we sing songs with Christian words. Music is an offering to God, and is designed for us to understand the criteria that we use to evaluate art and beauty, and being well-versed in that. I didn’t really start singing until college, when I attended Westmont and so I’m invested in teaching students how much music can impact their life, and specifically teaching them the language of music and how to read it. So we’re studying music theory, music history, and the history of music in the church, which is part of the whole curriculum.
Where did you teach prior to CVCS?
While I was a student at Westmont, I worked at a large church in Berkeley as a music intern, and because of my passion for choral music, I did graduate work at Colorado University Boulder and received a Masters in Music in Choral Conducting. I returned to the church in Berkeley and worked there for three more years. At that point, I decided to get my credential because I wanted to teach in the school system. I taught at a large public high school in the Central Valley before moving to Santa Barbara, where I was an adjunct professor at Westmont College in the music department for 14 years. I taught voice and music pedagogy classes and instructed women’s chorale. During that time I was also the artistic director for the Santa Barbara Children’s Chorus, which is a non-profit music education organization. I also taught two years at Cold Springs Elementary and at La Colina Jr. High School. In 2007, I started teaching part-time at Providence Hall which was a brand new Christian high school in Santa Barbara and taught there for seven years. The school grew and added a middle school and merged with Santa Barbara Christian School, which was kindergarten through eighth grade.
What attracted you to CVCS?
I was at a point where I felt God was calling me to a new chapter in my life, and when I learned about the position at CVCS I was intrigued by the opportunity. I have tremendous respect for the leadership of the school and the larger vision for how a Christian school can impact the lives of its students. I saw the potential to recruit more kids, and my philosophy is that everybody should sing. Everybody can sing. I can teach anybody to sing. Of course there are some kids who are going to be more talented than others, but God says in His Word, “Sing unto the Lord a new song.” Not just if you have a good voice. As Christians we are called to use our voices in worship, so my goal is to give my students successful experiences so they’re confident in using their voice to praise God. My goal is to give students skills, understanding, and appreciation for music so they can carry that on for the rest of their lives in some capacity.
What are your goals for the program in this next year?
I would love to see all of the performing arts aspects at CVCS work together. My calling is to oversee a fully integrated performing arts program from junior kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m also really excited to work with Ms. Crandall in the dance department, having performances intentionally melded together. Mrs. Huntting and I have talked extensively about developing a scope and sequence for all grades so that we have a philosophical understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing, and missionally looking at why our performing arts is different at CVCS from any other school.
What is the difference?
The difference is that we are acknowledging that we as believers are made in the image of God, and that we are made to be creative. To acknowledge that basic identity of being creative beings and then using the arts to bring God the glory. It’s not about promoting ourselves, although I want kids to feel confident and successful, but ultimately, we are here to create beauty and give it as an offering to God. I think that is completely different than what other schools are doing.
What brings you joy?
I would say the thing that brings me the most joy is watching students succeed. When I see kids that aren’t confident or don’t have very many skills, as we continue to work together, and I help them develop those things and see everything that they can accomplish, and then they do it—that brings me so much joy. I teach to the highest common denominator. I am passionate about kids doing everything they do with excellence, and I will not settle for mediocre performance, and I’ll never put kids in a situation where they’re not going to be successful, but I put the bar really high. I tell them that I taught college for 14 years, and now I’m teaching high school, but I’m going to treat you like college students. I’m going to expect you to function and learn like one. We’re going to have a very specialized repertoire, we’re going to work really hard and you’re going to be amazed at what we can accomplish, and that brings me a lot of joy!