“Quilters” is a musical performance about poor pioneer women from Texas to Nebraska and how they come together to quilt and socialize.
With not a lot of choices for recreational activities, the characters use their quilts to create folk art and tell stories about their lives.
Even with this musical in production, Stephenson manages to take time out of the day to give students quality time. As she finishes lessons with one student and wishes her a great day, she gives her next student a warm cheerful welcome.
Stephenson has been an adjunct professor of music for nine years at the University of La Verne.
She received her bachelor’s degree in music and her master’s degree in church music at the University of Southern California.
She has been listening to music all of her life.
“Since my mother was a college voice professor, I always had good music around me.” Stephenson said.
“My mother is my inspiration. She not only taught me a lot about music, but also how to be a great teacher.”
Her music career started in Lincoln, Neb., where she grew up.
Her mother would attend all of her students’ performances, whether they were on campus or not.
“My mother was open to her students,” Stephenson said. “She cared about them … And I try to imitate that in my teaching.”
Stephenson’s teaching methods include using real life situations and applying them to music. This includes having students envision sound bouncing off a trampoline.
It allows students to picture what they need their voice to do rather then use technical terms that a student cannot relate to, she said.
“Carol does not make anything uncomfortable,” sophomore theater arts major Stephanie Aguilar said. “When she teaches she puts everything all out on the table.”
Other students describe her as fun.
“She is the type of professor that you can talk to about anything even if it has nothing to do with school,” junior theater arts major Amanda Nova said. “If you mess up she tells you to mess up big. That way you know what mistake you made and she can help you fix it.”
“She really wants you to extract the talent you already have,” Aguilar added.
Stephenson said she loves working at La Verne because the administration understands the importance of the beginning music classes.
“Those are the classes that feed into all the music classes,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson has many accomplishments in her life but she said she is most proud of her students’ successes.
If she can “open the students’ voices” and encourage them to continue with their music, she feels she has succeeded with those students.
“The important part is to get the students inspired, expose them to music and hope that they will be more interested in music,” Stephenson said. “If they leave my class wanting to take more music classes, that is the accomplishment.”
“Carol is larger than life,” Aguilar said.
“She is the perfect balance between serious talent and a best friend… There is no one like her.”
Stephenson will perform in “Quilters” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Center Theatre in Whittier.
For information, visit whittiercommunitytheatre.org.
Erica Lares can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.