Music director leaves music legacy in program she created

Barbara Hootman

Aline Carillon is retiring as the director of the music program at The Learning Community after 15 years. Her legacy at the school will live on in the comprehensive music program that she created, one that involves every student in the school.

Katherine Murphy, executive director at The Learning Community called Carillon a “gem.”

“Aline cares about creating a quality music program that enriches the lives of her students,” Murphy said. “Students learn to read notes, sing on pitch, play instruments. But more than that, they learn to appreciate pieces of music that they’d never otherwise even have heard. She brings the singer out in each child, even those who think they aren’t good at singing. They wind up feeling like an integral part of the choir.”

Carillon began teaching at TLC as a volunteer when her son was in the first grade. She stayed to build the music program. Her retirement is “bittersweet,” she said. “But it is the right time,” she also said.

As a student, Carillon studied flute and voice. She realized early in her studies that music would be a life-long passion. She graduated with a bachelor of music degree from Ithaca College and taught elementary school music in upstate New York for several years. Seeking a warmer climate and a different way of life, she and her husband moved to Western North Carolina and purchased a plumber’s cottage in the woods. They turned it into Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort.

The Carillons created a family-friendly bed and breakfast with seven bedrooms. They sold the inn in 2007, and Aline returned to her first love - teaching music. She became a part-time music program director at The Learning Community.

Carillon uses a variety of art forms in teaching music to kindergarten through eight grade students including singing and rhythm chants. She weaves games and movement into the musical pieces. She incorporates a variety of musical instruments including guitars, xylophones and recorders. All of the art forms work together as she directs the annual musical production involving every student at TLC.

Carrie Coward, whose son Matt Coward went to The Learning Community, said Carillon is such an awesome teacher that she influences every student in the program. (Matt now is a student at Owen High School.)

“I think it is phenomenal that Aline includes every student on stage every year,” Coward said. “My son had no previous musical training. He is now participating in the competitive choral program at Owen High School, and has appeared in ‘Godspell,’ ‘Westside Story,’ and ‘Footloose.’ I know not all kids go on to do musicals, but I am impressed with The Learning Community’s music program. Without it, my son wouldn’t have had those early experiences.”

Carillon said she is looking forward to a new chapter in her life where she will be doing something different. She will be missed at the school.

“The school will miss the flawless way that Aline brings a piece of music alive with the middle school choir singing and (second- and third-grade) students playing xylophones or our youngest students in K-1 (kindergarten and first grade) singing accompanied by the fourth- and fifth- (grade students playing) recorders,” Murphy said. “It’s a community effort.”

The school has a lot of artistic parents, and they were a big help to Carillon in building the music program, she said. Music is an integral part of the school’s culture.

“I think they appreciated having a program that is now in place at TLC,” Carillon said.

Jill Smith’s daughter Clara was a student of Carillon’s at the school. She is planning to study music at Loyola New Orleans in the fall.

“We believe Aline’s influence on Clara was an important stepping stone along Clara’s way,” Smith said. “Clara did not always have such a goal. It was more of a process and realization of her talents over the past year that led her to her college choice and program.

“For Clara, the biggest music influence from Aline came from the (school) musical. It opened a whole new world to her, especially the music and singing. The best part was always singing and working on the musical numbers with Aline. Musical theater songs are currently a large part of Clara’s repertoire.”

In retirement Carillon plans to travel more.

“When I joined the schoool, I needed the school and the children,” she said. “Now I am willing to become a (coordinator) for my family members and friends as we travel.”

Carillon also plans to garden with her husband Jim and try some new and different things in retirement.

“I know I will miss the students a lot,” she said. “I will continue to sing with the Asheville Symphony Chorus and with the All Souls Cathedral Choir in Asheville. Musically, I’m fulfilled.”