Music alums return for first career day

Four USAO music alumni return to campus for the first Music Career Day, designed to give students practical advice on building a career as a musician. Pictured are (left to right) Rheuben Green, Valerie Yocum and Steven Sanders. Not pictured is Marie Sanders.

Music alums return for first career day



Music students will benefit from the experience of their predecessors as four alumni return for the first Music Career Day scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 in Room 124 of Davis Hall.

The alumni are slated to speak to the challenges and opportunities that face music graduates as well as offer guidance on career planning.

The presenters include Rheuben Green, Valerie Yocum and Steven and Marie Sanders.

Dr. Jan Hanson, professor of music, believes that this kind of professional development is essential to preparing tomorrow’s graduates to enter the job market.

“It’s not enough to simply be talented or even willing to work hard to master one’s craft,” Hanson said.

“Building a career as a musician means weighing complex decisions that shape long-term outcomes. We hope that time spent with our successful alumni can help our students come out of the program better prepared to understand what musicians do in order to thrive.”

Green graduated from USAO in 2000 and serves as the director of bands and choirs at Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City. Additionally, he is the band director at Taft Middle School, also in Oklahoma City.

Green guides all aspects of the band and vocal departments, including recruiting, teaching, musical arranging and administrative duties. His students have been recognized through competitive audition and participation in All-Region Band and Choir, Oklahoma Choral Director’s Association All-State Choir and the Oklahoma Music Educator’s Association’s All-State Band and Choir.

Yocum graduated from USAO in 2005 and earned a master of music degree in piano performance from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.

She has completed coursework for an equivalency in music therapy and is presently serving as an intern at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid.

Yocum has worked as a student music therapist with in various settings, including alternative education and hospice. She has been a church musician for 30 years and currently serves as the pastoral musician at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Chickasha.

Steven Sanders graduated from USAO in 1998 and went on to earn a master’s degree in vocal performance from Oklahoma City University as well as a certificate of performance from Boston University.

Sanders, a tenor, has performed professionally in more than three dozen productions of operas, oratorios and concerts.  He has won many awards, including the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from USAO in 2004.

He has performed to critical acclaim with leading opera companies throughout the country. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2008. In 2009, Sanders sang on a Grammy-nominated recording of the opera, Volpone, by John Musto.

Marie Sanders graduated from the university in 1999. Her teaching career in elementary music started at Anadarko where she taught at a K-1 school for two years. She taught later in Pflugerville, Texas, before moving, with her husband, Steve, to the East Coast. 

While there, Marie taught in Newton, Mass., for two years. In 2006, the pair moved to New Jersey where she taught music at an elementary school. Earlier this year, the Sanders returned to Oklahoma where Marie teaches at Marlow Elementary. The family makes their home in Waurika.


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