CofC Faces to Know: Margaret “Happy” Byrd

CofC Faces to Know: Margaret “Happy” Byrd

Name: Margaret “Happy” Byrd

Hometown: Charleston, S.C.

Education: I have a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano pedagogy and performance from the University of South Carolina (UofSC), a Master of Music in vocal accompanying from Boston University and a Bachelor of Music in piano pedagogy from UofSC.

Job title: Adjunct Professor of Music

How long have you worked at the College? This fall will be the beginning of my seventh year, although I was also at CofC in the early 2000s as an accompanist for a music theater class.

What are your job responsibilities? My job responsibilities cover three separate areas:

1) I teach applied piano lessons. Each semester I teach private, weekly piano lessons to around 10 college students. The lessons focus on piano repertoire, technique and theory. At the end of the semester, the students perform a short jury for the piano faculty.

2) I serve as an accompanist to vocal and instrumental students. I coach and accompany about 15 vocalists and instrumentalists each semester, rehearsing regularly to work on repertoire that the students will perform in repertoire classes, juries, recitals or auditions.

3) I teach Music Theory Lab I-IV and online Music Appreciation. Music Theory Lab courses focus ear training through developing the skills of sight singing; rhythmic reading; and melodic, harmonic and rhythmic dictation. They are required courses for music majors and minors. Online Music Appreciation focuses on developing the skills of concentrated listening to music, the elements of music, composers, instruments and the characteristics within each of the historical stylistic periods. This course is required for music majors and fulfills a humanities requirement for other majors.

What do you like most about your job? I love getting to know all of my students. Some of the most rewarding times happen while musically collaborating with motivated students. I also love my colleagues in the music department!

What question do you get asked most in your job and what’s your typical answer? The most frequent question I get from students is, “Can we please rehearse before repertoire class?” I always say yes, unless it means I have to miss lunch!

What’s your favorite location on campus and why? My favorite place on campus is the Barnet Courtyard, which is a sculpture garden beside the Simons Center for the Arts. It’s also a venue for small ensemble performances and events. I like to go there between classes and lessons to get fresh air and sun, watch the students walking their dogs and eat lunch with a friend.

What are your hobbies? I do 360 yoga (formerly Bikram yoga) several mornings a week, go to Orangetheory Fitness a couple of times a week and love walking my German shepherd, Kyleigh. Is shopping a hobby?

What personal and/or professional accomplishment are you most proud of? By far I am most proud of my two sons that are 26 and 24 years old. The older one is a software developer (he earned his degree in computer science from CofC), and the other is in his third year of medical school at MUSC [Medical University of South Carolina].

Name a creative work (book, movie, performance, etc.) you enjoyed recently and why? I attended a Spoleto Chamber Music concert at the Dock Street Theatre this season, where Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” was performed. It is a piece that I have performed, and so it was especially moving. It was so interesting to see it performed live, without a conductor, and with very different tempos.

What was your favorite TV show growing up? I loved Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I saw the documentary that was filmed a couple of years ago. If you get a chance, watch it!

What’s next on your bucket list? I am going to Singapore next summer with my colleague!

What is something your campus colleagues would be surprised to know about you? I took the official Sorting Hat quiz (the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter), and it sorted me into the House of Ravenclaw.

What was your first job? Every summer from age 15 through high school, I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the YMCA on James Island.

What’s your favorite Lowcountry restaurant? My favorite restaurant is High Thyme on Sullivan’s Island. They have eclectic American cuisine, and I like their fried vegetable quinoa, coconut chicken soup and flourless chocolate raspberry cake.

Describe your perfect day. Saturday morning 360 Yoga, going to the beach and riding in the golf cart with my good friend, getting my nails done, shopping and spending time with my friends and family.


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