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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Math & Music

Anne Wooten Green, Spark summarizes,  "A common perception is that music and mathematics are linked. Students who are in the school band often perform well in math classes. Rachel Desmarais is a believer in that perception."

Photo: Rachel M. Desmarais

Desmarais, 45, is the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Forsyth Technical Community College. As a music major at Mars Hill College, she was also a math tutor. A few years after she graduated in 1992, she used her degree to work in Christian education, directing choir and coordinating youth activities at Olivet Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.

In 1995, when she found that she needed to take a computer class to handle the church budget, she enrolled in an Excel class at Forsyth Tech. That was the first step by which her vocation—music—would become her avocation, her hobby. She was hooked on computers from then on. “I remember I had to kind of weasel my way into [the Excel class] because they wanted me to take a different class before that one,” she says. “But I said ‘No, no, I have complete confidence I can do this.’

“It was an amazing class,” she adds. “I could barely hang on. It was the perfect level to challenge me. Then I just took some more computer classes.”

She would eventually teach part time at the college. Computers weren’t even a thought when Desmarais was attending Mars Hill after years of piano and voice lessons. She began as a piano major, then switched to a vocal performance major for her last two years in college.
Desmarais saw her future in music. “My plan had been to go on to graduate school and get a master’s degree in music.

“In music, it’s kind of sad; teachers are often failed performers. So they (faculty) want you to have the vocal performance degree. But I had never had any intention of being an opera singer or anything like that.”
Then, after getting married at age 20, she changed her focus. “An early marriage just derails a lot of people from going on. I needed to work.” Desmarais had been trained to direct choirs.

Related link
Forsyth Tech’s Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais Named Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Source: Winston-Salem Journal - Spark Magazine