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Retired EU teacher still leads choirs

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Anne Talcott retired after 35 years as a music teacher in Manteca Unified schools.

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

POSTED January 24, 2014 1:34 a.m.

Editor’s note: The Bulletin will occasionally catch up with people that were once high profile in the community to see what they are doing now.

Anne Talcott remembered taking a group of 65 students to London during the spring.

That was 2005 just prior to the economy taking a tailspin.

“We were able to get plenty of support from the local businesses,” said Talcott, who, as a music instructor at East Union High, organized plenty of fundraisers to help fund the trip abroad.

The endeavor was worthwhile.

In a single day, her music group performed at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral – a 14th century church in London – enjoyed an exclusive dining experience in a restaurant otherwise closed to the public, and that evening caught the live version of the classic musical, ‘Les Miserables.’

“That was one of my favorite days,” Talcott said Monday at the Manteca Presbyterian Church.

She’s the Minister of Music there and has been for the past 12 years. Her work entails planning for the Sunday worship service along with playing the piano, keyboard and organ.

Talcott, who spends most of her days babysitting her two grandchildren – Joshua, 23 months, and 4-month-old Genni – also directs the choir and leads the praise team.

Music is still a big part of her life even after retiring nearly two years ago as music educator for the Manteca Unified School District.

All told, she spent 35 years with the district. From 1989 to 2012, Talcott was the choir director and music teacher at East Union. But prior to that, she taught band, choir and classroom music to fourth- through- eighth- students at several of the MUSD campus, with Nile Garden School being her main site.

Her son, Daniel Talcott, is currently a music teacher in the district. He started at Weston Ranch and has been at Sierra High for the past few years. Last spring, Daniel worked alongside his mother in directing the orchestra during a performance of “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

He credits his mother for being an influential part of his life.

 “I can’t even describe the amount of heart ache and stress that I avoided by having Mom as a mentor for those first couple of years,” Daniel Talcott said on Wednesday. “Most people know that the first two to five years of teaching are the hardest and most don’t make it.

“I probably would have been one of those people had it not been for my Mom’s advice and very supportive administrators throughout the years.”

Early years

Anne Talcott grew up in the Merced County town of Atwater.

“I’ve always been involved with the church,” she said.

It was there that Talcott performed with the children’s choir. She recalled that her parents bought her an organ at a young age, learning not only how to play it but also to sing.

A 1973 graduate of Atwater High, Talcott attended the University of the Pacific, where she majored in music education with a concentration in choral and organ.

“I’ve always loved teaching and music is my passion. I got to blend my two loves,” she said.

The Educator

She really doesn’t miss the classroom or the daily routine consisting of long hours.

“What I really miss are the students,” said Talcott, who’s had thousands during the span of over three decades.

Some even went on to perform professionally, opting for places such as New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

“They already had the talent,” Talcott said. “I was just a step in that process.”

She enjoyed working with those who were not only talented but devoted to music. The Bella group, for instance.

“This was a group of girls who wanted to get to a higher place in their music,” Talcott said.

At 6:30 a.m., prior to the start of school, she set aside her own time just to work with the Bella group during a five-year stretch.

“I had fun working with them,” she said.

Daniel Talcott remembered his mother during her years as a teacher.

“What I observed growing up is that Mom learned how to be a choir teacher by having a very humble attitude. She would teach a kid an Italian Aria – despite having no training in Italian pronunciation – and listen to what the judges had to say. She then would mark the corrections in her Aria book so that she could be better as a teacher for the next time,” he said.

Why was that important?

“She knew that her students needed to learn the Italian Aria in order to be competitive with college auditions. She went out of her comfort zone to best teach her kids,” Daniel Talcott said.

Anne Talcott’s success as a teacher, according to her son, was her ability to give and create opportunities for others without any expectations or added pressure.

“She has so many alumni from choirs long since graduated coming back to sing in her Community Choir and supporting music in Manteca because of the love of music instilled in them many years ago in (East Union) Room 42,” said Daniel Talcott.

Choir trips, fundraisers

Anne Talcott organized several choir trips during the spring, including New York City.

But in order to get there, students had to raise money.

“We used to sell candy bars,” said Daniel Talcott. “Each candy bar sold for a dollar so we would get 50 cents towards our trip per candy bar.

“The trip to New York was around $800 (per student) so that meant each kid would have to sell 1,600 candy bars.”

Besides London and New York – the group also saw a Broadway performance of ‘Les Miserables’ while in the Big Apple – Anne Talcott organized trips to Hawaii, Canada and Disneyland, with her students getting an opportunity to work with some of the great people in music.

 “She worked hard for her students and wasn’t afraid of taking the difficult road,” said her son, Daniel.

He added: “My Mom would just make it happen where most people would probably back down from that kind of work load.”

Another fundraiser was “Carols & Kisses” during the holidays, earning money by showcasing her talented students. Students would sing Christmas carols and deliver Hershey’s chocolate kisses in exchange for a donation.

“I miss those crazy times of caroling as a fundraiser,” she said.

The Church

Church has always been important to Anne Talcott.

For over 46 years, she’s been involved in church music, including the past 21 years with Manteca Presbyterian formerly Valley Community Presbyterian Church, at North and Main streets.

Karl Hauser is the current pastor at Manteca Presbyterian. Talcott, who was part of the committee, had a hand in his hiring.

“This is his first church,” she said.

Ever the teacher, Talcott likes the enthusiasm and energy that Hauser has brought to the church. “He gets an A-plus,” she said.

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