Welcome to My World!

Listen to Kay’s guest appearance.
Listen to Kay’s guest appearance.

Welcome to my world!

On this website, you’ll find most everything you’d want to know about me:  What I’ve learned, what I teach, and what I think about this world.  It’s all tucked under the menu items above, and you’ll find my basic life story below.  My world is packed with story, rhyme, and song, and with lots and lots of learning and discussion.  I hope you enjoy your visit!

My Story

With my most excellent first piano at our Silvis, IL home (circa 1970)

I was born and raised on the Illinois side of the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities—the fourth of what would be five children. My parents were transplants from Tennessee. My father worked for over three decades for the major farm equipment manufacturers in our area. My mother ‘stayed at home’. My family’s life was full of church-going, singing, reading, and vacations back to the family farms in Tennessee.

One day I came home from 2nd grade and told my parents that I wanted to take piano lessons, not knowing that they had turned down my three older siblings when they had wanted instrument lessons or to be in band. My parents agreed we’d try it for the summer, and for the next 10 years, week after week, Mom took me to see Miss Agnesrose Kay Malik. I went to college, immediately declaring my major as Piano Performance, and finished four and a half years later with a BA in Music. I went on to graduate school and received an MM in Piano Pedagogy.

At Tippet Rise
Credit: Annie Campbell Photography

My colleges were in Tennessee, Texas, and North Carolina. I moved to Alabama for 18 months after graduate school, and then it was up to New York for the next 11 years. Those single working girl years were spent working in offices and teaching piano on the side. In Alabama I did bookkeeping for a music store and taught piano in a studio there. In New York I spent 10 years in the Finance office of The Juilliard School and was a traveling piano teacher in areas north of the city.

In 1998, after the death of my dearly-loved youngest brother, I left New York and moved to Tennessee, where my parents had returned after Dad’s retirement. Just a few weeks after moving there I met Jack Pelham. He had recently moved up from Florida. We met at a rehearsal for a Christmas charity show that our church would be hosting at the Ryman Auditorium. I played piano; Jack directed a chorus. I soon joined his chorus, and in March, 2002, I joined him.

Fourteen months after our wedding, our son James Dewey Pelham was born. I was 41 years old. Three years later, our daughter Virginia Grace was born. You can read a lot about her on my blog. Grace lived for three weeks. During James’ first year I was the music teacher in the elementary schools for the county where we lived in Tennessee. That experiment over, I came home to spend the next 17 years with him. I had the immense pleasure of discovering the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education when James was a toddler and homeschooled him based on those principles until his graduation in May, 2021.

My Story, Rhyme, & Song class. 2022.

Our family of three arrived in Montana from the southeast US in 2010. In 2013 we opened a music studio in Laurel. For a couple of the years since then, I have had up to 50 private piano students. These days I keep it to around 30. Now in my homeschool mom retirement, I continue to read and discuss educational philosophy. In the last few years, I’ve also begun teaching Story, Rhyme, & Song to kids from four to eight years old.

In 2022 I was accepted into the House of Humane Letters Fellowship, where we are digging deep into literary criticism and striving to carry on the work of those that came before us, such as Northrop Frye, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, who themselves were reaching back to the tradition, medieval and classical. I spend most mornings reading and discussing ideas with my like-minded educational philosophy and literary criticism colleagues. This final (perhaps) quarter of my life has been a marvel to me, as my lifetime of ideas of God, music, and story constantly come together.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find this site uplifting!

Some of my students after a piano recital. Christmas 2021