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NewsTribune photo/Goldie Currie Doris Hamilton of Tiskilwa plays a piece on the piano. Hamilton will be presented the fourth annual Lifetime Achievements in the Arts award next Saturday during Prairie Arts Council annual Gala.
If you GO:
The PAC's 18th annual PAC gala, Mardi Gras Masqurade, will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 in the Ye Olde Underground Inn, Princeton. Jazz entertainment will be provided by Al & Jeanne Brown and a live and silent auction will follow and include handmade creations from local artists, items from local businesses and more.
TISKILWA — Influential music educator and theater director Doris Hamilton will be presented the fourth annual Lifetime Achievements in the Arts award next Saturday during Prairie Arts Council’s annual Gala.
Hamilton has been around music her whole life, starting at age 5 when her mother enrolled her in piano lessons. Thinking back on it, Hamilton laughs at the memories of her mother giving the choice to either practice piano for an hour or do the dishes.
“She always made it sound like it was a privilege to get to do it,” Hamilton chuckled.
The daily practice and countless hours of playing gave Hamilton the desire to make music a part of her future.
After graduating from college, she left with a contract in her pocket to be an accompanist for the Community Artist Series in Chicago. Shortly after that time, however, her parents were in a bad accident, and a job offer as the music education teacher at Tiskilwa Schools seemed like a more appropriate job to take in order to be near her parents.
“I had gone to school there, and as a teacher I just saw it completely differently than as a student,” she said of Tiskilwa. “I loved it and I loved teaching.” The best part was getting to witness satisfaction and enjoyment from students once they succeeded or developed a talent.
“You watch kids, when they really get into something they start to succeed and then they want to do it,” she said. “Then when they are so successful their friends come in and they want to do it too.”
Hamilton believes a talent is a God-given thing and the only time the talent is useful is when it’s developed. She explained the importance of giving everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents, no matter what the talent may be.
“I look at talents differently than some. I think talent is what you have inside of you that makes you do something really well,” she said.
Hamilton served 35 years as the music teacher for Tiskilwa Schools, providing K-12 music, theater and educational programs for students.
During her tenure, she developed the “Kids from Tiskilwa” group, which was inspired by an entertainment act she saw while at a convention in San Francisco. The entertainment was made up of college students called “Kids from the Neighborhood” who wrote skits, sang and danced.
“I thought ‘jeez, we could do that,’” she said.
She took the idea back to her high school students at about the time show choirs were becoming the “next best thing.” Her group performed at conventions statewide, and they were invited to play on Pinocchio’s stage at Disney World, where they were then picked to play at Sea World.
“It was really neat for them,” she said. “We called ourselves ‘the Partridge family.’” In addition to her involvement with education, Hamilton served 35 years as director of Homestead musicals during Princeton’s annual Homestead Festival. She also directed several musicals at the Henry Dinner Theater and severed as musical director for PAC productions of The Secret Garden in 2006 and Godspell in 2012.
Hamilton currently teaches voice and piano for private clients, serves as the church organist and choir director for Tiskilwa Community Church, is a contest judge for both, the Illinois High School Association and Elementary School Association and is a member of the Princeton Elementary School Board.
Hamilton said she has spent her whole life involved in education. It started with being a student, then as an involved parent, then as a teacher to today as a member on the school board.
“It’s been a real privilege to do all of that,” she said. “I’m just a very fortunate person to have had those opportunities and I hope to have a lot more of them yet.”
“A lot of satisfaction comes not from the glory of being a director of something that’s successful, but from watching people when they know they’ve succeeded in something,” she said. “To sit back and watch their satisfaction and pride it’s a very gratifying situation.”
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