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Janet Bell hangs up the keys
May 30, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Courtesy Photo - Voice and Piano Studio of Janet Bell held the year end awards day at the Ever Green Community Greenhouse. Annual awards for lesson participation were awarded to those in attendance as well as numerous other awards students achieved throughout the year. Pictured are: Mary Newman, Payton Flower, Cayden Spearman, Shawna Hill and Josie Brown. Star Student of the year for the Studio was Payton Flower. Shawna Hill won the most commendations for her Guild Audition. Josie Brown, Payton Flower, and Shawna Hill all participated in the National Guild of Piano Teachers auditions in Cheyenne, Wyo. in May. Josie played a five-piece program and received a rating of Citywide Circle Superior. Shawna and Payton each played a 10-piece program and each received a Top Talent Circle rating of Superior Plus.

After 18 years of teaching piano and voice to local young people, music instructor Janet Bell is retiring her piano.

A native of Harrisburg, Bell studied under Don Childs Jr., studying oboe and choir. Later, she took voice and piano lessons from Dorothy Bronson and was a member of the Dorothy Bronson Singers.

“I was in the first group of kids she took to Europe,” Bell said. “That was 40 years ago and was such a good trip. I remember it like it was yesterday, but I don’t remember yesterday.”

After high school, she gave up piano and didn’t get back to it until she returned to college in her 30s. “I was taking classes through Chadron State at WNCC to get my degree in computer science,” she said. But the college had a new music instructor, so I decided to take voice lessons again. I ended up changing my major to music, piano and voice.

After transferring to the University of Wyoming, she completed her degree in 1995 and started teaching that year.

“I started teaching at home, but with 17 students, it didn’t work that well,” she said. “So I ended up renting a couple of places downtown.”

She said her membership in professional organizations like the Music Teachers National Association, along with the Nebraska and Wyoming chapters, have been a plus for her students.

“I’ve benefitted from going to all their conferences,” she said, “but it’s really for the students. They have opportunities to perform at recitals and be judged by a wide variety of judges. This really helps with their progress.”

Bell said she’s been thinking about retiring for a number of years, but finally made the decision this year. “I’ve had some really good students over the years, but that’s been going down in recent years. And I haven’t had that many.”

She added she misses seeing her grandkids on a regular basis. So with her retirement, Bell is on her way to Sicily to see her daughter and family.

“I’ll really miss the kids,” she said. “They’ve been really special and some of them I’ve had as students for a long time and they’ve done very well. So it’s hard to say goodbye.”
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