May 30, 2017
Beth Richey-Sullivan discusses strategies for surviving the most
perilous of choir director jobs: taking over a program from a
rockstar. When your predecessor is both beloved and skilled, the
incoming director needs “the skin of an elephant and the heart of a
butterfly.” This episode is full of jaw-dropping examples that Beth
culls from this past year of taking over from an adored former
director. Her warmth, encouragement, and wisdom is required
listening for anyone stepping into a new job.
Listen: Highlight to
Tweet: “You need to have the skin of an elephant, and
the heart of a butterfly.” -Beth Richey-Sullivan Show
3 Key Takeaways:
- Be transparent with your administration, both in your needs and
- You need the skin of an elephant, and the heart of a butterfly
(Be tough-skinned, but tenderhearted).
- Beth and her husband have fostered 13 children over three
years, many of whom deal with their pain with outwardly aggressive
behavior. “See their behavior as their pain.”
- “I will treat you with respect, so that you know how to treat
me.” It’s a long game, but worth the extra time it takes.
- Beth has a history of dealing with kids with trauma. When a
director leaves, it is a loss for them. You're dealing with a
- Do the best you can, and realize the eye rolls aren’t about
- See their behavior as their pain.
- Consistently model the respect and behavior you want them to
reflect back at you.
Beth Richey-Sullivan is a native of
Kansas City, Missouri where she completed her undergraduate degree
in both Choral & Instrumental Music Education at the University
of Missouri, Kansas City, Conservatory of Music & Dance. She
received her Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting at UCLA with
Donald Neuen. During her eleven years in California, she was very
successful. She was the conductor of the Towne Singers in La
Cañada, CA for 7 successful seasons and commissioned Eric
Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby” with this 100 voice community chorus.
Beth revitalizing a Choral program at Hoover High School & Toll
Middle School in Glendale, CA where she conducted Choral Music,
grades 6-12. In 2015, she moved home to Overland Park, KS with her
husband Pat and three wonderful children. She just completed her
first year as conductor at Blue Valley Northwest High School in
Overland Park, KS, where both Chamber Singers and Chorale received
perfect ratings at State Festival. Sponsored by:
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