A private music teacher based out of Vernon’s Caetani Cultural Centre has reached a career milestone.
“It’s hart to imagine an arts career of 50 years,” Devon Muhlert said. “But, if you’re self employed, it is possible. You can kiss the gold watch goodbye, though… Few use watches now anyway.”
Muhlert’s career took off in Terrace, B.C., where she worked as an itinerant band teacher. There, she drove between schools to teach students the art of music.
As the first woman music director in British Columbia’s north, Muhlert combined her school bands to create a viable community band which subsequently won awards.
“It’s great when people enrich their lives with music,” Muhlert said. “There are so many health benefits to singing and playing a wind instrument — lung capacity increases, gives you deeper breath, improved mood and a feeling of accomplishing something you may have thought a reach.”
The benefits surpass the physical, though, she said. Especially for some demographics.
“For some at-risk kids, the band or choir was a place they felt accepted and appreciated,” she said. “They could finally build a sense of themselves.”
Muhlert served as the music director for more than 12 choirs including a hand-bell choir. She directed musicals and served as Music Minister for five churches in B.C. and the North West Territories.
On the side, she taught private lessons in voice, flute, saxophone, guitar and songwriting.
But music isn’t her only talent.
Muhlert is also a published author and acclaimed photographer.
She has translated and wrote for the International Choral Bulletin, based in Belgium, for about a decade. She started a portrait, wedding and grad photography studio in NWT and published a book on Sveva Caetani and her family entitled Cadence of Colour in 2017.
In her 50 years in the industry, Muhlert has published more than 200 columns under the title “Devon’s Delusions,” and has penned around 100 original songs — some of which were arranged for choir.
The Okanagan Arts Award Literary winner said she’s also delved into fine arts with painting and collage.
With four grandchildren, she realized they had no real concept of what Nana actually did all day which inspired Muhlert to create a book to show them.
That’s when it hit her — it’s been 50 long years.
“When COVID-19 changed everything, the singing and playing also stopped,” she said. “But nothing keeps an artist down for long.
“There’s always hope — and solos.”