New junior high music teacher hitting the right notes

Oct 26, 2017

Richard LaPrise is loving his new job.

“When my parents ask about work, I can say I love it,” he said. “It’s a special place. There’s a lot of support, and there’s not much more you can ask for as a music teacher.”

LaPrise took over the junior high band and general music position after longtime teacher Jim Farmer retired in June, and he’s making a few changes.

“One of the things they hired me for was to revamp the general music curriculum,” LaPrise said. “So that has been changed considerably.”

The new curriculum focuses on getting students more involved in the music making process, as well as developing a well-trained ear.

“We do a lot of active listening,” LaPrise said. “We’ve been trying to develop listening skills.”

LaPrise is a South Coast native, born and raised in Fall River. He then went to UMass Amherst for his undergraduate studies. After that, he got a job working at a school in Lynn for a few years, before going back to school. He got his master’s degree in music education at Ithaca College, and ended up at Old Rochester.

“It’s a great place,” he said. “It’s a small community, which is different from where I came from.”

LaPrise added that there’s something about middle schoolers that he particularly likes.

“There’s something about this age group,” he said. “There’s always something new. It can be challenging at times, but the success is so much more rewarding. It’s so important at this age…They’re so much more capable than they realize.”

LaPrise plays saxophone, though originally started out with the cello.

“[My sisters] are string players, so I started cello first but quit,” he said. “I took up sax the next year and the rest was history. We’re all music teachers.”

LaPrise can’t remember specifically why he quit the cello, but has a couple theories.

“I probably quit cello because it was so big,” he joked. “I was drawn to the sax because it’s the cool instrument…And it was different than what my sisters were doing.”

Laprise said though he and his sisters are all musical, they didn’t get it from their parents.

“My parents claim the instrument they play the best is the radio,” LaPrise joked.

Laprise’s love for the saxophone is surely a welcome attribute, as he heads up the jazz band and concert band.

“The musical selections might change, but other than that it’ll be what you expect,” he said about the bands.