Music department teachers share hidden music tastes


Addie Welch, Staff Writer

What songs does Mr. Sayre listen to that his students wouldn’t expect? Which famous musicians has Ms. Hippen played with? I recently asked the music department staff at South to send me a playlist of songs that were meaningful to them. I learned interesting stories from the music department in the process, and when I was putting the playlists together, I couldn’t help but stop and listen to their choices!

Lorie Hippen

Teaches: Orchestra, Piano / Primary Instrument: Violin



Beethoven – “Symphony No. 7” (Allegretto)

Tchaikovsky – “Serenade for Strings” (Élégie)

Brahms – A German Requiem “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place”

Frank Sinatra recording – “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”

Jason Mraz – “I’m Yours”

You might not know it, but orchestra director Lorie Hippen has played violin with quite the list of artists, including Prince, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Harry Connick Jr., Josh Groban and Rod Stewart. As a classically trained violinist, Hippen has also played in orchestras, and most recently had her improvising debut in a jazz combo over the summer.

Hippen’s playlist of meaningful songs reflects her varied musical taste and ability, and includes classical, jazz, and pop songs. “I like most everything,” she said. “I don’t listen to much rap,” Hippen omits. “Ever,” she laughed.

“It was such a miraculous thing that [Beethoven] wrote [Symphony No. 7 – Allegretto] without ever having heard it, being totally deaf at the time,” Hippen said, mentioning that every student should have a chance to play it during high school. Hippen waved her hands in the air as she described the next classical piece she chose, Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings – Élégie”, which she called “a beautiful conversation between two people.” Hippen played Brahms: A German Requiem “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place”, a song about the afterlife, during the period in which her mother was dying. Hippen fondly mentioned the jazz trombone feature in Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under my Skin.” Lastly, Hippen chose “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz for the reggae feel and the happiness it brings her.

“[Music] expresses what you have in your soul,” Hippen concluded. “That’s why I do what I do, that’s what I’m hoping my students get out of making music.”

If you’re looking for a soul search or a song that tells a story, check out Hippen’s vibrant playlist.


Laurie Meyers

Teaches: Choir / Primary Instrument: Voice



Tori Amos – “Crucify”

Les Misérables – “I Dreamed a Dream” (Randy Graff, original Broadway recording)

Indigo Girls – “Least Complicated”

Nanci Griffith – Cover of “This Old Town”

Dar Williams – “Iowa”

Tracy Chapman – “The Promise”

“I’m listing the titles off my head that helped me through tough times in my college days and early 20’s,” Laurie Meyers, choral director, described her playlist. Meyers said the nostalgic mood she was in inspired the theme for the songs she chose. She listened to these tunes during hard times or transition points in her life. “[The songs] are imprinted on my heart forever,” Meyers said.

When Meyers listens to her playlist, she feels, “grateful and just human, I guess… they’re just songs that really are about humanity.”

Meyers would describe her music taste in general as calm, mellow and full of vocal titles.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a break and listen to Meyers’ playlist of melodic, catchy and singable tunes.


Sarah Minette

Teaches: Beginning Band, Jazz II, Guitar, Piano / Primary Instrument: Saxophone



Björk – “Quicksand”

S. Carey – “In The Dirt”

Radiohead – “Idioteque”

Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

Sarah Minette, South High music staff’s newest member, is juggling teaching, graduate school, and intense weight lifting at the same time. “[The playlist] represents all aspects of my life right now,” Minette said. Minette finds the groove from Björk to Nirvana.

While Minette is studying, Björk or S. Carey are her go-tos. Both artists have ambient feels that let Minette get “in the zone.” Minette finds Björk’s classical influence, rhythms, and textures interesting. Minette knows S. Carey (also known as the drummer from the band Bon Iver) personally and calls his music, “just beautiful.” Minette admits that she can’t always have these artists playing in the background. “I have a hard time talking when I’m listening to some music … I have to sit and listen to it,” she laughed.

Minette needs aggressive music during CrossFit workouts. “S. Carey and trying to lift a bunch of weights over my head is not gonna tap into my inner ‘roar’!” she animated, putting on Nirvana’s “Smell Like Teen Spirit.” Minette first listened to Nirvana in middle school and mentioned how people always seem to return to their middle school roots. “I was a grunge kid, for sure,” she added.

Although Minette largely listened to jazz when she was younger, she’d describe her current music taste as diverse. “Classical music brings me to tears but so does Björk, so does S. Carey. Words that hip hop artists write into their music can bring me to tears,” she said. If you’ve got homework piling up or are in the mood to exercise, press play on Minette’s playlist!


Eric Sayre

Teaches: Band, Jazz, Music Theory & Composition / Primary Instrument: Trumpet



Toussaint Morrison – “Can’t Relive the Party”

The Fugees – “Ready or Not”

Ben Howard – “Promise”

Bad Rabbits – “Neverland”

Heiruspecs – “Heartsprings”

Dirty Projectors – “No Intention”

Eric Sayre, band director, themed his playlist, “Songs My Students Wouldn’t Know I Listen To!” Although Sayre often listens to jazz, band and choir music, his playlist includes hip-hop and indie rock. “When I want to get away from that world this is the kind of music I listen to,” Sayre explained.

“All of these artists were recommended to me by my friends, which is how I usually hear about new artists, and also why I like them,” Sayre described, mentioning the Minneapolis hip-hop record label, Rhymesayers (no pun intended).

“Music is relationship to me, and each of these songs and artists represent a person, life stage, or relationship,” Sayre finished.

Sayre’s playlist is full of groovy and danceable tunes, such as Toussaint Morrison’s “Can’t Relive the Party” and Bad Rabbits’ “Neverland.” If you’re in the mood for soothing sounds, try Ben Howard’s “Promise.” Take a listen for a peek into Sayre’s hidden music tastes!