Sue Hildreth Fellers '64

Sue (Hildreth) Fellers, Music Education
By Caitlin Hofen
“It was a hot October afternoon and I was helping decorate homecoming decks,” Sue Fellers recalled. “All the windows were open in the Fine Arts building and the choir was rehearsing on the third floor. I was walking by the building when I stopped and dropped my books. They were singing a song I had done in high school and it clicked: music was what I was missing. I thought ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what it is. I’ve made a mistake.’”
Originally from Mooreland, Okla., Fellers had worked in the county courthouse typing court records throughout high school. Once in college, she realized she was missing music and decided to change her academic goals from business to music education.
“Once I began singing and playing again, I knew that was where I belonged.”
As a new Northwestern graduate, Fellers accepted a position with Burlington Public Schools (Okla.) as the music and art teacher. She taught all 12 grades of music and eight grades of art.
Jumping out windows and gum on the piano keys
Fellers faced obstacles during her first year of teaching she never imagined she would have to address.
“The kids were accustomed to jumping out of the windows, putting gum on the piano keys and locking the teacher out of the classroom,” Fellers said. “It didn’t take long for us to come together and know this wasn’t going to happen with me.
“I was thrust into some situations where I needed to use some common sense, as well as what I had been taught about discipline. It made me rethink myself several times; but once we got squared away, it went wonderfully.”
Fellers stepped down as a teacher when her first child was born. She chose to stay home and raise her children on their farm, with every intention of returning to public education later. But her musical journey took her a different direction.
A renaissance for music
“The Baptist Church in Cherokee, Okla., wanted a music minister, so I started there once my children were older,” Fellers said. “I’ve now been there 45 years. I’m still teaching and applying the things I was taught at Northwestern. In the time I’ve been there, I’ve had youth choir, children’s choir, hand bell choir and many more.”
As an educator, Fellers said that her favorite aspect of teaching is the result of her ensemble’s hard work.
“I love the work of putting it together, but to be able to conduct and get out of people what you know is there is a blessing,” Fellers said. “To be able to see the superior ratings at contests is an affirmation of what you’re doing is right. One can’t sit around and enjoy the result of something one didn’t work hard for. I like to be able to remold and help another, as well as enjoy the beauty of the music."
The Northwestern influence
“Northwestern was small enough to make me feel at home,” Fellers said. “I had friends from everywhere and I felt like the professors cared. My classes weren’t big, and my music classes certainly were not. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing and come back to Northwestern.”


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