Music is Jo Stoup’s life and she works to make it accessible to children throughout the Pasadena area. When she was growing up in Las Vegas, her father worked in construction and there wasn’t always money for music. When Stoup needed a new flute, her dad plastered her music teacher’s house in exchange for one. Other teachers gave Stoup music lessons for free when she couldn’t afford to pay.
In turn, Stoup feels honored to be able to give back, sharing her talents and passing on her passion for music. She was a teacher in the Pasadena Unified School District for 11 years, and was band and orchestra director for John Muir High School. After that, Stoup taught music major classes, musicianship, performance and theory at Pasadena City College, and conducted the orchestra there.
Throughout her career, she has remembered her roots; she gave her own students free music lessons when they didn’t have the money to pay her.
Stoup also is the conductor of the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra. There are 32 schools represented in the orchestra, yet few of the musicians hail from PUSD. Stoup is working to remedy this, and spreading awareness of its scholarship program.
“So many times, the arts are overlooked and they are an important part of humanity and education,” Stoup said. “It’s been proven that playing their own music helps students be more engaged; they get higher scores on IQ and SAT tests.
“We can keep a lot of kids busy and out of trouble and interested in something that requires them to be artistic and requires abstract thinking. They become better citizens,” Stoup said.
In addition to her efforts with PYMO, Stoup coaches schools with their music programs, runs clinics for bands and orchestras to help them prepare for festivals and assists music instructors at area middle and high schools.
– Michelle J. Mills