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Bellevue's Pied Piper

Music Teacher Dorinda Rendahl Gives Local Kids a Common Ground of Joy

Dorinda Rendahl captivates her pupils with sparkle and skill.

Dorinda Rendahl captivates her pupils with sparkle and skill.

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If the sound of music wafts through the air in the Valley, stop and look around. You’ll probably see Dorinda Rendahl somewhere. And close behind that, you’ll hear the chorus that follows her . . . “Hi, Mrs. Rendahl! Hi, Mrs. Rendahl!” It’s the sound of kids and their grateful parents whose lives she has touched in her work in public schools. Or from some show she’s helped produce, or some choir she’s directed, some lesson somewhere that brought out the charm and joy of living that she exudes and instills in others. She’s just a music teacher, but what a music teacher.

This writer first encountered the Rendahl magic at a Christmas holiday program at Bellevue Elementary, where she was then music director. (She moved to the new Woodside Elementary in 2006.) As a veteran of two generations of obligatory elementary school holiday programs, I was unprepared for an evening with Rendahl. From watching my kids, then their kids, at endless shows in public and private schools in two states, I knew the pattern. Some of the kids can sing, some are little hams, most of the kids are just trying to follow and many simply stare into space. But at Bellevue Elementary, I watched what seemed like hundreds of kids file neatly onto the stage one evening and then galvanize into a real show. Kids participated like they were being paid. Rendahl, dolled up in a sparkly black dress and heels, her thick curly black hair all done, conducted and played piano and cheerleader throughout the show. The kids seemed to channel her energy. And they rocked! Even when it was jazz, or Broadway tunes, they were engaged.

After the program, Rendahl stood at the door, as she does after every show, to shake hands with audience members who line up to tell her how great it was. A really good elementary school show—how’d that happen? >>>


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