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  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Susan Laushman named to Who's Who of Church Musicians

  • Susan Laushman may put in five days a week, plus quite a few evenings, in her work as Pittsburg High School  vocal music instructor, but that’s far from the whole story.

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  • Susan Laushman may put in five days a week, plus quite a few evenings, in her work as Pittsburg High School vocal music instructor, but that’s far from the whole story.
    She doesn’t take a break from music on Sunday, but has served as choir master for the Pittsburg Presbyterian Church since 2003.
    Laushman recently received the Who’s Who of Church Musicians, Youth Category award from the Kansas Federation of Music Clubs. Presentation was made during the organization’s state convention in April at Hutchinson.
    She was nominated for the honor by the Treble Clef Club of Pittsburg. Laushman said that she is a club member, but her schedule at school makes it difficult for her to attend meetings regularly.
    “The evaluation and scoring was based on years of service and lots of essay questions,” she said. “The award winner in the adult category is 85 and has 66 years of service.”
    Laushman won’t be able to equal that for quite a while, but does have considerable experience.
    “Prior to my arrival in Pittsburg I did a lot of children’s and youth church music,” she said.
    In 1988-89 Laushman served as children’s/youth music director for the Countryside United Methodist Church in Topeka. She was also children’s/youth music director at the First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg, from 1992 to 2003, where she developed the youth music program by providing appropriate Sunday school music as well as children’s program music for the holidays and special performances.
    “I also feel my score for the award was elevated because high school students are welcomed in our church choir,” she said.
    Laushman uses the multigenerational approach at PHS as well, and for several years has invited adult and senior women from the community to sing with her female vocal music students for a special concert. In 2012 she extended the opportunity to men in the community to sing with the PHS Encore group.
    “The 40 members of our church choir range in age from 15 to 80,” she said. “I love that multi-generational feel, that family feeling. We are a church family and they are giving their time for this.”
    Laushman oversees three memorial scholarship funds at provide Pittsburg State University music majors with an opportunity to receive stipends for singing in the Pittsburg Presbyterian Church choir. She works with the PSU music department to select the students.
    Those students are then expected to serve as sectional leaders in the choir, provide offertory solos, assist with the bell choir as needed and participate in choir activities, rehearsals and presentations.
    Laushman also assists with music selection and preparation for the biannual services in which the children and youth lead the morning worship.
    “Here at Pittsburg Presbyterian we have one service on Sunday, so we have a blended service with various styles of music to accommodate all musical preferences,” she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Under her leadership the church choir has had the opportunity to travel and perform in both Carnegie Hall, New York City, and Lincoln Center, Washington, D.C.
    All of this takes many hours of study, preparation and practice, meaning that being a church music director isn’t just something that takes an hour or two every Sunday.
    “I’m not sure if we’re a declining breed or not, but I think live musicians are not as commonplace as they used to be in churches,” Laushman said. “However, in Pittsburg there are still several churches that maintain a music director, choir and bell choir.”
    She earned a bachelor of music in piano performance from Friends University, Wichita, and a master’s in piano performance and music education certification from PSU.
    In 2007 Laushman received the Music Educator of the Year Award from the Kansas Federation of Music Teachers Association and in 2012 was named Outstanding Music Educator of the Year by the Kansas Music Educators Association.

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