Up with People Alumni all over the world are taking their experiences in the program and applying them to their personal and professional lives. Just like Jill Teas, the co-founder and musical director of Voices Rock, Denver’s original adult rock choir.
We had the chance to talk to Jill about her time traveling on tour and how it has impacted her life, in more ways than one.
Where are you originally from?
“I am originally from Lewiston, Idaho.”
When did you travel in Up with People? What was your role?
“I traveled in Up with People as a cast member in Cast A from 1988 to 1989. I also traveled as a cast staff member as the vocal coach in Cast C from 1991 to 1992.”
What is your current position? What does that entail?
“Currently I am the co-founder and musical director of Voices Rock, Denver’s original adult rock choir. I direct a group of 180 singers weekly and manage two other choir directors who are also Up with People alumni. Voices Rock is a non-audition rock choir offering three to four 10-week sessions per year. Our mission is to build community through singing.
“Voices Rock has had incredible performance opportunities such as opening for Lady Antebellum at Red Rocks, singing as the finale for TedX Cherry Creek Women 2018 and performing multiple sold out shows at the Oriental Theatre. We also sang for numerous community outreach performances such as the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary Gala, AIDS walk, and Alzheimer’s Walk. This summer we will be singing the National Anthem for the Colorado Rockies vs. Dodgers game in June.
“I also teach middle school choir at Stanley British Primary school in Denver, operate a private voice studio and perform throughout Denver in an acoustic duo.”
How did traveling with Up with People prepare you for this position?
“Up with People gave me the performance experience as well as the teaching experience that was the foundation for a lifelong career as a music teacher and choral director. It gave me the presentation and communication skills necessary to launch a business and work closely with the broader community.”
How did Up with People impact your life both personally and professionally?
“Up With People impacted my life in more ways than I can count. Personally, it was education way beyond what my college degree gave me. It was experiential learning with many components of travel. Better yet, I developed a deeper understanding of other cultures from my fellow cast members that I traveled with as well as from my host families. I made some of my lifelong best friends in both of my casts, and I still travel with many of them every year.
Professionally, Up with People developed my confidence as a performer, and I will take that with me for my entire career. I also learned everything I know about show production from Up with People, which enabled the launch of Voices Rock.”
What advice would you give our youth in pursuing their passion/career?
“My advice would be to get all the experience you can in what you love and then pursue that dream! You may get turned down for the job or part several times, but that’s okay. You can make anything happen if you work hard enough and don’t give up!”
Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?
“I always knew I wanted to teach, direct choirs and perform. I always wanted to have an impact on children and instill a love of music in them. I never imagined that I would be able to do the same and more for adults by creating a choir where people could find their voice again and build community.”
What are your favorite moments from traveling in Up with People?
“Some of my favorite moments were performing at the International Festival in Jordan, swimming in the Dead Sea and crossing the desert on a camel. It was an experience beyond words!”
What would you tell someone who was considering traveling in Up with People?
“I would tell anyone considering traveling in Up with People that this will be one of the most important things you will ever do. It will change your life in amazing ways.”
What are the top 3 things you learned during your experience in Up with People?
- Having a better understanding of cultures
- Understanding differences and perspectives and how to apply that to everyday life
- Gaining the confidence I have as a performer and teacher
How do you keep hope alive?
“I keep hope alive by igniting a passion for music and community in the adults and children I have the opportunity to work with. Up with People was the impetus for building my personal mission and moving that forward throughout my life.”
“It’s an unfinished world
And it’s still in the making.
It’ll take all we can give
‘cause together we all live
In an unfinished world.”
Unfinished World © Up with People