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Let the Music Play

Part 1 of a two-part interview with El Segundo's own Edie Rice, the force of nature behind much of the music education of our city's youth. By Maureen Kingsley

This story originally appeared in our September 2018 issue.

Musician and music educator Edie Rice
Musician and music educator Edie Rice is a beloved figure in the El Segundo schools' band programs.

If you’ve had a child in after-school or high school band in El Segundo in the last 20 years or so, or if you’ve ever attended a concert put on by any of the local South Bay Music Association’s performing groups, you’ve probably encountered Edie Rice. A talented musician, gifted educator, and all-around Renaissance woman, Edie was instrumental (pun intended) in building El Segundo’s youth band programs in the mid-90s to the thriving successes they are today.

From her own youth spent on a dairy farm on the East Coast to her current status as one of El Segundo’s most beloved music educators, Edie’s life story is an inspiring one.

Edie is currently Education Director, South Bay Music Association (SBMA), which includes directing the after-school band programs at the elementary and middle schools in El Segundo and the South Bay Music Symposium. She is also Assistant Band Director of the ESHS Band and owner of ER Music, an instrument repair, sales, and education business. Part 1 of her story, told in her own words, is shared here.

TESS: How many years have you been working with El Segundo youth?

Edie Rice: I started working for ESUSD as an after-school band teacher in 1996 (until spring 2005).

From 2000 until spring 2005 I served as ESHS band director. In 2006, ESUSD outsourced the after-school band programs to SBMA, and I started as Education Director at that time.

TESS: What is your own musical background, and which instruments do you play?

ER: I started on piano; then clarinet, alto and bass clarinet in 4th grade; tenor saxophone and flute in 7th grade; and oboe and baritone saxophone in college. I completed my Masters in 2006 from Southern Oregon University (American Band College) in Conducting.

I played trumpet/brass when I started teaching. Band directors do training on all wind and percussion instruments, but are usually more proficient at some. I perform on woodwinds, but not on brass and only on some percussion.

TESS: Where were you born and raised, and how did you come to settle in El Segundo?

ER: I was born and raised in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on our family’s dairy farm that was homesteaded in the mid-1800s. I am the eldest of four children.

My family was a member of a fundamentalist church during my childhood, and I left home at 18 to go to the church school, Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA. I met my husband, Mike, our freshman year, but we did not become a couple until four years later. In the meantime, I was able to take oboe lessons and play in the orchestra as well as perform halftime shows as a baton twirler and dance-team member. I spent one year overseas teaching disabled students in Amman, Jordan. All four summers during college I worked at a church youth camp on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland, where I made bread for 250 students and staff every day, earning me the title of “Ediebread.”

After several years of marriage, our young family with two little girls moved into a Quaker Friends church facility as caretakers. During our 1.5 years in the Friends church, I played piano for worship services for various groups. The summer of 1995, we decided to leave the ministry and found ourselves homeless in Pasadena for three months while Mike searched for work. Fortunately, his temporary job at a bank lasted the whole three months, and we stayed at the Hi Way Host motel on Colorado Blvd. Each Sunday we would get the Los Angeles Times, and Mike would apply by mail for listed jobs. Our girls would lick the envelopes and kiss them before we mailed them out, wishing for a good job for our family. One weekend the applications were for some jobs in El Segundo, so we came for a visit. Of course, we fell in love with the town and hoped that Mike might get a job here!

Part 2 of Edie’s remarkable story appears in our November 2018 issue!

Photo provided by Edie Rice.

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