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Student Spotlight | Chloe Shepherd

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Student Spotlight | Chloe Shepherd

On a chilly afternoon in downtown Benson, Chloe Shepherd and her mother, Beth Shepherd, walked into The 402’s office with warm smiles on their faces.  Rachel Scott, a voice instructor at The 402 Arts Collective, told The 402 that Chloe was a perfect fit for the new blog series called, Student Spotlight of the Month.  “Not only is she talented but she also works hard at her art form,” says Rachel.  Sitting down across the table, Chloe shared a little bit about herself and her musical endeavors as a young singer.


“In elementary school I took a music class which was required but I always loved it,” said Chloe describing one of her earliest memories of pursuing music.  She was also involved in a program at her elementary school which required them to practice twice a week and hosted a musical at the end of the year. “I’ve always loved music.”

Chloe is now 13-years-old and has been taking voice lessons from Rachel Scott for a little over a year and a half.  Not only has she learned more about singing, but Chloe has also learned different techniques.  All of these technical skills she implements in her other musical outlets. This past semester she took a music class at her middle school and currently plays a part in her school’s show choir.

Chloe says taking lessons at The 402 has helped in many ways. “I can bring in music to Rachel and she gives me pointers. If I’m trying out for a solo at school she can help me with it. She helps me get better.” As Chloe is growing up, she sees herself pursuing music for a long time. “I want to do something with singing when I get older. I want to become the best that I can so that when I’m ready, I can do it.” Chloe is also a member of a band. The band consists of two guitarists, a bass player, drummer, saxophone player, pianist, and another singer along with Chloe. They had their first performance was this past Saturday.

Without her parents, Chloe said she wouldn’t have been able to pursue music as far as she has.  “They support me in many ways.” Beth told The 402, “Everything has been really positive here. Rachel is amazing. She listens to Chloe and cares about her opinions.  She doesn’t try to change Chloe’s style which is really important to us. The recitals have been so great to have here because we can invite grandma and grandpa to come out and watch. It’s just been so great.”

When asked what advice she would give someone who was thinking about taking lessons at The 402, Chloe responded with, “If they want to they definitely should. It’s good because of the recitals which allows us to showcase our work and what we’ve learned. It’s just a lot of fun!”

Interested in being like Chloe? Register for a music lesson today!

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Artist Spotlight | Matt Ehlinger

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Artist Spotlight | Matt Ehlinger

Studying at University of Nebraska Omaha, Matt Ehlinger is Sophomore majoring in Music Performance with a concentration in Jazz Guitar.  Currently active in the Omaha music scene, from required school events to jazz band to a gospel band, Matt finds importance in furthering his musical knowledge.  Matt sat down with the 402 to tell a little bit more about himself.
Matt was born and raised in the Omaha, specifically the Dundee area.  He began by stating that he didn’t grow up playing music. “I wasn’t exposed to a lot of music.” Instead Matt described that mathematics was his route to music.

“I like forms and formals… then taking information and figuring out. Taking a bunch of numbers and finding out what it means. Music reminds me of that”

While focusing on guitar, Matt has explored other instruments.  From guitar to piano to trumpet to voice, Matt has experienced different outlets of music.  “I dabble in piano. You can just fill a lot more spaces and create color.. You can add a lot on the piano. But I play guitar so… Yah.”

Matt, however, didn’t start playing guitar until he was 14-years-old. “Even then, I didn’t take it seriously until I was around 17.” A modest musician, Matt claims that he has days that he feels like he isn’t even good at playing guitar. “I remember a specific time when I was playing a Rush song with some people. We didn’t have a drummer and it was mix meter. We decided to sight read the song but I was terrible at reading music because it was my first week at college. Anyways we finally got it, it took like a month or two but there was a lot of improvement.”

Looking back on that experience Matt says he is really proud of himself for sticking with it and not getting discouraged.  It’s easy for an artist to doubt his or her ability and decided that he or she isn’t good enough.  What is far more difficult is to stick with a challenging project or subject until it is mastered.  Matt says he experiences that sort of feeling a lot in his music. The question is however, what artist is truly satisfied to the point where they can look or listen to their work and say, ‘I have no room for improvement.’? Matt told the 402 there is always room for improvement and growth no matter the artist.

With this idea in mind, Matt looked up to a couple of musicians who ultimately inspired him to pursue music as a profession.

“Okay so, Jack Adams is a worship leader at Trinity church. I used to go there. Super rock and roll, he had like long hair, cool gear, he was so cool and inspired me around 15.” In other words Matt looked up to Jack as, ‘I want to be that guy.’

On a slightly different note, Matt mentioned an instructor he used to have growing up: “Now looking back I think about this trumpet teacher that I had.  He had lots of experience. He was super talented and yet focused on teaching until he died which was pretty recent,” explained Matt. “ He was a great player and yet he kept teaching. I don’t know.. He just wasn’t trying to show off.  He just wanted to share what he had.”

Implementing what he learned from both men, Matt not only focuses on becoming the best musician he can be but also strives to share his knowledge with others. While he enjoys the technicality and the “nitty gritty” of music, Matt also thinks performing and playing is just all around enjoyable.  Learning doesn’t have to be tedious.  Matt wants his students to experience the reward of learning and improving their skills.  His goal isn’t to dictate the classroom but to assist the student.  “If they have a song they are struggling with, or want to learn a new technique or just start guitar from square one, I am more then happy to help.”

Want to take guitar lessons from Matt Ehlinger?

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Artist Spotlight | Lizzie Ratliff

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Artist Spotlight | Lizzie Ratliff

On a Wednesday afternoon at the 402, a smiling Lizzie Ratliff walked through the door. She had previously agreed to sit down and tell us a little bit about herself. Taking off her big yellow scarf and hanging up her coat, she got comfortable and began talking about her art form. She told the 402 that her main focus is vocal, however she does play piano and a little guitar.
“I actually started singing down the street at Saint Paul’s Methodist church when I was in middle school,” said Lizzie as she described her earliest singing memories. Her uncle and grandmother both preached at the church and although Lizzie and her family didn’t personally go there, they would put on musicals for the congregation. When asked who influenced her singing the most, Lizzie responded with her parents.

“It would probably be both my mom and dad. They both sing and my dad plays the guitar. Growing up they always sang at weddings and I have so many memories of them practicing together. So I would definitely say that my mom and dad have a huge impact on me and my music.”

When asked the question, “Why teach now?” Lizzie responded with a story about her day to day high school singing experience. She didn’t have the opportunity to really explore new ways of singing at her school, instead she was involved in a class where there was a set curriculum that every student went through.

Lizzie graduated from Nebraska Christian College in 2012 with a Worship Arts Degree. During her time at Nebraska Christian College she helped teach high school students that attended a summer program hosted by the college called New Way Singers. “I would audition the soloists and work with them personally, sort of like a mentorship,” described Lizzie. She was actually apart of New Way Singers when she was a high school student and attended the summer program her Sophomore year.

“I just loved it so much that I went back the next year. At that point, I decided this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.” Excited to take music to the next level, Lizzie described how she got the opportunity to finally explore different types of music through New Way Singers and her college experience. Her goal is to share this knowledge and experience with her students.

I just want to assist them and build their confidence. Creating music classes around the individual rather then having a set plan for everyone

“I really want someone to walk in to their first music lesson and I say, ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to do with your singing? Where do you want to go with your music?’ I just want to assist them and build their confidence. Creating music classes around the individual rather then having a set plan for everyone. I’m just excited to walk along side someone in their musical journey,” Lizzie said with a big smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.

Lizzie Ratliff is a talented young woman who has a gift that she wants to share with aspiring musicians. Learn more about Lizzie and register to take vocal lessons with her today!

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