A TRIBUTE TO DIXIE CLARK by Caleb Foster for his Senior Recital, June 22, 2014
I started piano with Mrs. Dixie M. Clark of Clark Music Studio when I was 8 years old. I have taken piano from her for ten years, and I think she is a gifted teacher and an amazing musician. She has taught me a lot through her teaching. Besides just learning music, she has taught me how to perform, prepare, and analyze. Her teaching has prepared me to be able to do anything musically. She makes her lessons enjoyable and is very personable. She not only teaches, but is a friend as well. She takes an interest in you, your activities, and your interests. She encourages her students in whatever they’re doing. She also teaches each student uniquely. Instead of a one-method approach, she teaches each student the way she knows will best help them. She makes each year special with her rewards at the end of the year; trophies, cash awards, and plaques. She pushes all of her students to be the best they can and never settles for less than their best. I’ve never gone into a lesson and had her tell me that my piece was perfect; she’s told me I played it great, but not perfect. No matter how well I played it, there was something she could help me improve on.
I am the oldest of ten children. I had only had a couple lessons taught by my mom, who only knew basic piano. We began to look for a teacher and found Ms. Dixie and started lessons under her in the fall of 2004. Since I began, my four oldest siblings have taken under her as well. Under her teaching my siblings and I have won numerous state awards including a couple gold medals. Her other students also do exceptionally well at competitions, taking several gold medals over the years, a big accomplishment when you are competing against 25+ students from your grade level.
Ms. Dixie is an active member of the GTMF (Golden Triangle Music Forum) and MMTA (Mississippi Music Teachers Association). She has always wanted for her students to have a chance to perform and compete with their music, as it makes the student a better pianist. For her, it wasn’t about winning, it was about each student doing their best. Even as a master teacher, she is always ready to learn something new about piano herself. She has encouraged her students to participate in other musical activities/retreats/camps that are available.
Instead of assigning her students a piece to learn, Ms. Dixie would always give us appropriate selections to choose from. She believes that students will play a piece better if they like it than if it’s one that’s given to them. Her student recital is enjoyed by all who attend. She also hosts a Christmas recital/sing-a-long every year where the student plays a Christmas piece along with the audience singing and guitarists, and drums accompanying. At the end of every Christmas recital, Ms. Dixie will play her rendition of “White Christmas” with an additional verse that she and her husband had written about the true meaning of Christmas. Her husband, James “Nap” Clark was a respected, loved, and well-known pastor who would give a gospel message every Christmas recital until 2012 when he passed away at 82.
The past two years have been difficult for her as she has battled cancer. Yet she has continued to teach and try to keep her students up to par at State Competitions each year with the help of other teachers when she couldn’t teach. She has persevered through sick days, doctors’ visits, and weakness; yet, she has continued to be a support through all of her trials for my Senior recital.