Music from Motor City to Med Bow

Educator invites public to hear her HEM band play Veterans Day breakfast

 

In Medicine Bow, Pam Glasser, is known as the Medicine Bow Lions Club president. To others in Carbon County, she is known as a music teacher. To fellow musicians and concert goers in Wyoming, Houston and Israel, Glasser is acknowledged as an accomplished French horn virtuoso.

Glasser may be extremely accomplished on the French horn, but she plays other instruments, including some she makes herself. Her love of music is second only to teaching music appreciation to new generations.

She currently is the music teacher for Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain Elementary Schools and band teacher for Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow (HEM) High School and, until last year, taught music in Encampment.

Born in a Detroit suburb, the family moved to the inner city when she was two because her father passed away. Glasser's mother had to move the family to an area she describes as very low income.

Her mother worked as a seamstress for the priests at the local Catholic parish to afford Glasser's tuition at St. Dominican High School, the school she went to until her sophomore year.

The first instrument she learned to play was the accordion at the age of 11. At 13 she took up the guitar and by 15 she was teaching guitar so she could pay for her accordion lessons.

She says her mother inadvertently set her on the road to public school teaching and the instrument she is most famous for playing.

"My mother was working on this beautiful, intricate piece on her sewing machine well into the night and I saw she broke her last needle, so I went up to her and told I wanted to go to Denby (the public school)," Glasser said.

This school had just become a magnet school for fine arts. This school had five choirs and an orchestra. The student population had 6,000 students and there were three shifts. Glasser ended up having five music classes a day in her junior and senior years.

It was at Denby she learned to play the French horn. She said at first she was assigned the bassoon, but because it was broken, the teacher gave her the convoluted horn.

"A love affair with the French horn began," Glasser laughed.

She also sang at the school.

The choir she belonged to at Denby was exceptional said Glasser.

"Our choir went to the Eisteddfod of Wales, the year I graduated and we won a first place prize for youth division, that was how incredible we were," Glasser said. "We were a 120 voice choir and anybody that is choral trained knows about Eisteddfod."

The national Eisteddfod of Wales is a festival for musicians that are not professional said Glasser. The festival travels from place to place, alternating between north and south Wales, attracting around 150,000 visitors.

"It really is a big deal," Glasser said.

After high school, she went to University of Michigan majoring in music theory for two and a half years, before getting a scholarship to Wayne State University where she graduated .

"Wayne State is one of the best schools for music and the joke was my degree was 'BeMUSED' (Bachelor of MUSic EDucation)," Glasser joked.

Her first jobs after she graduated college were in the suburbs of Detroit because the city itself did away with music classes. After two years, the city brought the classes back and Glasser took work in the city system for a year.

Glasser said she loved teaching the inner city youth because they really wanted to learn music, but she said the area she worked in looked like it had been bombed out.

Rice University, in Houston, Texas, started recruiting horn players for their masters program and after completing their masters program Glasser was made orchestra librarian.

Freelance work was something Glasser had done in Detroit to a small degree, playing with the Detroit Symphony, but she had much more work in Houston area. Glasser said she played several times with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Houston Pops.

Glasser joined the Houston Young Audiences and toured the state. She also taught while touring and is proud to have trained some excellent students that were honored by the state. In the All State Orchestra from the east half of Texas, 12 of 24 players were Glasser's students.

Glasser has also played with international music companies.

She had always been in interested in Israel since she found out her Polish grandfather had been Jewish before converting to Catholicism to marry her grandmother. So she jumped at an invitation extended by the Israel Sinfonietta based in Beersheba to be second horn for a year. This was 1985.

"We toured the country with great guest artists," Glasser said. "We did 11 series and it was excellent."

Glasser came back to the U.S. and was called to play in the Teton B Orchestra, which is the younger orchestra, she said.

"I fell in love with Wyoming," Glasser said. "I knew I had to get back,"

She toured Asia and the U.S. three years with the Mantovani Orchestra before she could realize her dream of returning to Wyoming.

It was 1990 when she made it back to Laramie after she won the State Music Performing Grant. By winning that grant, she got invited to play with Wyoming Symphony in Casper.

For the next 22 years, Glasser played the principal (lead) horn. During this time she was invited to play with ArtCore in Casper, where she still plays solo on occasions.

It was also during her time in Casper, she started teaching at public schools as a substitute teacher.

When Dubois offered her a full time teaching job for K-12, she took it.

Carbon County School District No. 2 brought her to Encampment K-12 and HEM High School to teach four and half years ago. Last year her schedule changed to Medicine Bow, Elk Mountain and Hanna.

Glasser also restores instruments. Her biggest project is currently a kettle drum. In another project, Glasser converted a bison horn into a wind instrument that she enjoys demonstrating to students.

Glasser still does some freelance when she can, but duties as music teacher and obligations with the Lions Club in Medicine Bow don't leave her much time to do extra horn work.

On Nov. 11, the HEM band will be playing at the breakfast for veterans at the high school starting at 8 a.m.

Glasser highly encourages the public to come and listen to the band for this event.

 

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