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Music teachers celebrating century of song in Billings

One teacher has been spreading the joy of music for over 40 years and doesn't plan to quit soon
Anna Rodriguez plays piano
Posted at 10:00 AM, Jun 19, 2024

BILLILNGS — Here in Billings, the sound of music has been ongoing for 100 years.

The Billings Music Teachers Association(BMTA) has been turning local students into musicians since 1924.

Reporter Mack Carmack learns piano
Therese Bertrand teaches reporter Mack Carmack the piano

Although most students begin at a young age, the association teaches anyone from ages zero to 100.

"Seeing students joy on their faces when they've learned a new piece, or when they've learned a new skill, I think that is the most exciting thing," says association President Therese Bertrand, a current teacher.

Therese Bertrand, Billings Music Teachers Association
Therese Bertrand, Billings Music Teachers Association

Bertrand loves to teach and knows a lot about it. She's been teaching music to the next generation for the past 41 years.

She works with Anna Rodriguez, a teacher in training, at the association.

Anna Rodriguez, Billings Music Teacher Association
Anna Rodriguez, Billings Music Teacher Association

"I think it has been the most beneficial to get together with other musicians and play in different music camps, different duets, ensembles. My teacher was very focused on playing with other people, and I think that was very beneficial," Rodriguez says.

Although Bertrand and Rodriguez teach all ages, their pride and joy comes from teaching music to young children.

"With the little ones, just seeing their response in their eyes to music - like this little one-year-old that I'm working with- her eyes just... it's really neat. It just makes me excited to see them excited about the music," says Bertrand.

Billings Music Teacher Association teaches toddler
Billings Music Teacher Association teaches toddler

Others begin their musical journey much later in life. It's a more unconventional path, and one that for Bertrand, begins with a conversation.

"I always have people come up and talk to me first. I always see what - I always ask them what they're looking for. And then, I have policies that I go through, and if it's a good fit, fine. And if it's not a good fit, then that's fine too," says Bertrand.

Besides being a good fit, Bertrand recommends students purchase an 88-key acoustic piano and bring a positive attitude to each lesson. The rest is up to the imagination.

Billings Music Teacher Association teaches child
Billings Music Teacher Association teaches child

And with 100 years down, and plenty more to go, neither Rodriguez nor Bertrand plan on quitting any time soon.

"To see them come in and they don't know anything about music, and then just a couple months down the line, they'll start coming up with their own music, singing all the time, and you can tell they are gaining that joy in music," says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez plays piano
Rodriguez plays piano

Learn more about the Billings Music Teachers Association by visiting their website or reaching out to Therese Bertrand.