Instructors and Music Leaders
The Slinger Area has a rich history of talented musicians and music instructors. Starting during the 2013-2014 school year, Slinger High School social studies students used the files at the Washington County Historical Society, the Slinger Advancement Association's Slinger Historical Album, a 2013 Slinger Music Alumni survey, and word-of-mouth as a starting point to compile a list of people to research and interview as they researched this question: How do we know that music is culturally and historically significant in the Slinger Area? While you will see the results of some of the research here, a good chunk of the learning experience was in the process itself. The interviews, the site visits, the discussions, writing workships, and the e-mails/phone calls all played a great role in the student learning experience. It was quite rewarding watching sociology and history students with music background finding out about the depths and origins of music in the Slinger Area prior to their time at Slinger High School. We'll be continuing to add new information as we get it to bring out these rich layers. This is not a complete list. There are many quality artists, musicians, and instructors who have yet to be featured. Thank you so much if you are one of the instructors and music supporters that have contributed to this research.
NOTE: You'll find references to more music instructors, music supporters, and influential musicians in the text of the Sociological Study in the History/Culture section and the Slinger Music Alumni survey. In addition, students dug up a little more information on some select people. As mentioned earlier, this is a work in progress and future students hope to highlight as many people as they can. If you are one of the music instructors who was referenced multiple times and we have yet to talk to you, we will as we can arrange interviews. Lead student contributers for this section: Forrest Koslowski, Marek Bartusek, Brooke Herman, Amber Hofer, Michael Arts, Haley Sylvester, and Andrea Jasperson.
Sr. Romilda Simon (St. Peter's Church)
Dan Petersen (Slinger School District)
Steve Zenz (Slinger School District)
Kathy Galezio (Slinger School District)
The Naabs (SAMBA) and The Mataseks
Julie Hamm (White House of Music)
Cheryl Kuhaupt (Slinger alum, Hartford Music Center)
Ron Rueckl (Slinger School District)
Michael McLemore and Matthew Walker (M and W Custom Trombone)
Table of Contents
Sr. Romilda Simon
Photo above submitted by student, Leah Bell, from her grandma, Eileen. Year of photo unknown.
Many of Sister Romilda's students were given organ booklets. Click here for a document containing a picture of one of those booklets, a memory from one of her students, and an example of a message Sister Romilda wrote to that student.
"That Sister Romilda was something. She could teach anyone. Most of the guys there at St. Pete's learned an instrument." Dick Mayer
"Sister Romilda Simon just had this wonderful enthusiasm. She hooked me to music and never let me go. She'd invite me to sing in the church choir when I was home on college breaks. She always made sure I was connected to music and the church. The day before her death, I promised her that I would never let her spirit die. I feel that I'm carrying the spirit of Sr. Romilda with me as an educator of music at St. James."
Barb Schuelke worked as a music educator at St. Peter's School for a year before Sr. Romilda's death. Two months after Sister Romilda's death, she chose to become the head of music ministry at St. James Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls (she's been there the last 22 years). Click on the SoundCloud on the bottom right to hear Barb's comments about Sister Romilda.
Sr. Romilda was very talented. She taught not only music (piano, violin, and all the orchestra instruments) but also voice, tap dancing, and baton. Maureen Heder Christman, Sr. Romilda's former student
"You have to have a lot of support; any kid needs lots of support, no matter what your dream is or whatever life brings you. All through grade school, and all through high school, and all through college, my mentor, Sister Romilda, was right there for me to call and get help from....to provide that extra shove I needed, because it [music education and performing] is a lot of work. At times I needed someone to cheer me on." Mike Sukawaty, music educator
Sister Romilda Simon taught music at St. Peter's Catholic Grade School in Slinger, WI for 50 years (1941-1991). She was a powerful influence on not only students at St. Peter's but also students and adults all across the Slinger School District.
Quotes/Stories about Sr. Romilda Simon
"She taught piano to many kids of all faiths within the community. She was an institution for many years. Early in my first year of teaching, she came in to talk to me about the community history of music and its value in the neighborhood." Dave Hanke (from his book Teaching the Dream, page 16)
"She was a wonderful woman. She taught so many kids privately, not only at St. Pete's but others who wanted to take private music lessons. Because she was so well-respected in the community, Mr. Wikrent allowed her to audit my beginning German classes to prepare for a German trip for six months to work. She came and was a great student, always had her homework done. She loved life. She laughed a lot. She lived modestly. We had a great relationship. After she passed away, there was a scholarship that was given at the high school on her behalf, and I had the honor of giving it out."
Erika Guth-Degner (interview with senior, Alex Friedemann, October 2013)
"A woman my grandma is very thankful for and knew very well was Sister Romilda. Sister Romilda was a teacher for my grandma, uncle, father and aunt. She was one of my grandma’s favorite teachers and very good one too! She taught my father how to play the piano, violin and cello. She gave lessons to anybody who wanted them for no cost at all. She was my grandma’s true inspiration for music." 2013-2014 Sophomore Kathryn Schickert, after interviewing her grandmother, Myrna Schickert in October 2013 (1957 SHS graduating class)
"There was a time there in the 70s when Sister Romilda was cranking out these top notch musicians left and right. We were getting these good musicians at the high school." Dan Petersen, former music instructor, Slinger High School
We are looking for more Sr. Romilda stories. Please share yours......
MORE INSTRUCTORS AND MUSIC SUPPORTERS BELOW
Dan Petersen arrived in 1976. A Racine native, Petersen graduated from UW-Madison in 1973. A jazz ensemble coordinator for the state band association when at Slinger, Petersen continued to perform while teaching at Slinger in groups like the Allen Chase Orchestra and the Brass Bell (right) in Madison.
In March of 2014, Dan Petersen sat down with other music instructors and students to discuss his origins in music and tell stories about the music program when he was an instructor here. Highlights include discussions of jazz, marching band, Band-O-Rama (a pre-cursor to Band Night), creating a student band staff, pizza sales, band trips, and his vision of instruction.
"I'm not sure, but I think a big part of the success of the growth of music culturally at Slinger was Dave Hanke and Dan Petersen." Barb Pfeifer-Woog
This section is under construction
Steve Zenz was well-known by state music educators as a college clinician and performing and guest artist prior to teaching at Slinger High School. "I grew up wanting to be Buddy Rich," Zenz told students. Zenz came to Slinger in 1993 and helped increase the stature of the band program, particularly with his jazz instruction.
"Mr. Zenz was a big influence on me. He did so much both in school with our band and outside of our school. And I loved hearing about all the different places around the world that his music took him and how important it was in his life." Marie Kohler, Alumn
This section is still under construction. Please send stories.
Biographical information from middle school band teacher, Kathy Galezio, is below via student e-mail interview. Students: Cole Gnatzig and Anthony Wichman (May 11, 2014).
How much schooling did you have in total and what did you go to college for?
I went to college for my bachelor of music degree in instrumental music education at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, and I have a masters degree from Marian University in Education.
What instrument did you first learn to play?
That is when I started piano lessons; I started band in 5th grade on the clarinet, and I switched to bassoon in 7th grade.
Did anyone influence you on whether you wanted to do this as a career?
My high school choir director, John Farrell, was my main influence as far as going on in music went.
What made you decide to be a band instructor at the middle school?
I always knew that I enjoyed working with middle school age students so when I graduated from college I was specifically looking for jobs that were middle school jobs. When you graduate from college, however, you are always ready to take just about any job that you are offered.
Do you think music plays a big part of the history of Slinger? Explain.
I think music is a very important part of the history and culture of Slinger. The music program has accomplished some very impressive goals for such a small community and school. The fact that the band represented Wisconsin for the inauguration of George Bush was a huge milestone and the outpouring of community support for the trip was astonishing. The attendance at concerts, musicals, and all types of performances is very rewarding and shows that the Slinger school community and village community support a wide range of activities.
"Kathy Galezio is the reason I became a band director. She gave me direction and confidence that I could do more and be more than who/what I had settled on. Through her guidance and support, she pretty much used music as a vehicle to save me. I became a band director so I could do the same for others." Leah Duckert, Slinger Alum, band director at West Bend High School
The Naabs and the Mataseks (Founders of Slinger Area Music Booster Association)
Naabs: In Dave Hanke's book, Teaching the Dream, he refers to funding challenges in the late 1990s in order to grow the band program. The band program wanted to get new uniforms and eventually provide richer musical experiences for students but the pizza sales and other things weren't enough. Dave turned to Ron Naab for help. "I needed someone to help fundraise and Ron stepped up. He was instrumental in organizing people and raising money so we could get new uniforms and go on band trips."
Naab on his role with SAMBA: ”We found there was a need for a parent alumni organization that could support to keep program predominant. A lot of communities have cut back on music. Studies show learning music has great merits. This school district has been fortunate to have a lot of music talent. Paul Spaeth is working out in LA….I used to carry his keyboard when we took the band on a trip out there…..he’s going to hit it big. Those things [musical experiences] are important. I think it’s important to not lose vision of importance of music education and of the value of experiences. Easy for people to just say 'just do the 3 R’s' but there is so much more than the 3 R’s."
The Mataseks: Come to a high school musical a few days before the show and you'll see Tom and Lori Matesek hard at work on various behind the scenes roles. Tom's music and engineering background and mentoring of the "techies" and Lori's many costuming and organizational talents, often go unnoticed by the public, but their role is crucial to the high school music students, SAMBA, and the music at the Washington County Fair. Lori discussed her early role as a founder of SAMBA with senior, Carolyn Kuzmic (2014).
“We wanted a a support group for the music program just like there are support groups for sports teams”.
Kuzmic continued: SAMBA has helped the music program survive budget cuts, helped with parades, etc. They make sure students get water so they can stay hydrated. In addition, they lead fundraisers: the chicken dinner has been held to provide money for music scholarships and to help students pay for trips, new instruments, and instrument repairs.
More on Matasek perspective here.
While her music skills in the Slinger High School bands and the Bill Thull Orchestra could easily have landed Julie in the Artists/Alumn category, she was placed in the Musical Supporter category as her work with White House of Music is crucial to helping Slinger Area student musicans.
She was interviewed by Forrest Koslowski in the fall of 2013. Here is an exerpt from Koslowski's sociological study (which is also shared in the sociological study section of this website).
"...Koslowski had sent an email to Julie Hamm, he received a response that aided him in his search for the relationship between Slinger and The White House of Music. Shown below is her response: “(I) can guess that (the Slinger community) is about 40% of our lesson base at our West Bend store. These students are taking piano, guitar, drum, band or orchestra lessons. We give about 140 lessons per week at the West Bend store alone. As far as customers go, I can share that over the last 20 years that White House of Music has been involved in the beginner rental program at Slinger we will usually average around 120 beginner rentals per year. Slinger MS will start on average 160-180 I would guess beginning band students. It has stayed very steady through that time frame. That success has everything to do with the director leadership and the support from top to bottom including the superintendent and the school board. A great band program is nothing without the support of the entire community; that is why the Slinger bands are looked at with great pride.” Koslowski research 2013
Here is a document which lists more about her background as a musician and work for White House of Music.
Cheryl Kuhaupt, a Slinger resident and graduate, is known for her extensive knowledge with music instruments as owner of Hartford Music Center. Like with White House of Music, the Hartford Music Center is a local leader in reaching out to Slinger area musicians. Here is a short summary from student, Michael Arts, who interviewed Cheryl in the spring. More to come....
Prior to becoming the superintendent, Ron Rueckl was a principal and a band director. "Music was his first love. After earning his degree in music from St. Norbert's College, he came to Slinger in 1954 to become its musical director. In 1957, after becoming Slinger High School principal he retained his music director position. Several years later, he reluctantly gave up his leadership role in music to focus full time on his administrative duties." (obituary). According to many residents accounts (see below), Rueckl helped the band grow.
"Ron Rueckl was very active in the community, not just in school. He made a lot of things better in Slinger." Ken Leeson
"Things really took off under Ron Rueckl in band." Marilyn Mayer
"When Ron Rueckl took over the band program, he had some new things. He taught me the turkey trot." Shirley Wolf
An excerpt from Ron's speech at his retirement ceremony at the Linden Inn in 1991. Courtesy of Ron's wife, Marilyn. (editing help from Matt Kolpack)
Dan Petersen and Nancy Shilling-Genz both mentioned that Catania, an instructor from 1967 to 1976, was the first instructor to lead SHS band trips outside of the United States. We are looking for more information about Catania and these trips.
Michael D. McLemore & Matthew Walker
M & W Custom Trombones
In April 2016, social studies and music students visited with Michael and Matthew at their business, M and W Custom Trombones in Jackson, WI. Their business makes trombones for clients all over the world. Below are links to their website, a national newspaper article and student documentation.
Click here for a link to their website.
Click here for a link to a Washington Times article.
Click here for a link to a student interview in April 2016.