Sporting a "Doctor Who"-style hairdo and bow tie, David Hain exudes an energy that resonates with his students.
"The kids really dig it," explained the 34-year-old director of choirs and orchestra at Streamwood High School about his "Doctor Who" fascination.
Curriculum vitae: David HainDavid Hain's background and teaching qualifications
Ÿ General music, choir and orchestra teacher for 12 years
Ÿ Streamwood High School director of choirs, 2005-2014. Increased choir enrollment from 40 to 150 students; founded vocal ensembles; directed the yearly musical; staged four choir concerts per year; founded the Streamwood High School Masterwork Cycle; founded the Streamwood Choral Society; founded the Streamwood Community Choir; created a guitar course; created an Advance Placement music theory course; revived yearly madrigal.
Ÿ Tefft Middle School director of choirs and guitar teacher, 2005-2011
Ÿ Residential coordinator, The Writing and Thinking Workshop, Lake Forest College, 2001-2010
Ÿ Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching finalist
Ÿ Horace Mann Fellow
Ÿ Master of Arts in choral conducting, Western Illinois University, May 2004
Ÿ Bachelor of Arts in Music, Lake Forest College, May 2001
Talking about ... David Hain
Ÿ"David knows how to hook kids into music. He develops relationships. He understands the students, not only in the classroom, but in their place in the community. Kids will work for anybody who shows an interest in what they do. That's what David does. He goes above and beyond to get them involved in other things that are going on. He recognizes their talent and invites them to participate in plays and musicals. He's very active in the community in parades and performances. He's got the community choral group where he invites the community in ... they all sing together and they perform together. My first year here, I only had him for two classes. Now, he's here for five classes and next year potentially six. He's grown the program by hundreds of kids."
-- Terri Lozier, Streamwood High School principal
"He's like a second parent. He's also like a father figure to us, because it's like a second home to me. It's comforting and it's somewhere I like to be. We trust him. You may be totally new. He's so inviting and so welcoming to the community. It's just so nice to have someone that's willing to take anybody."
-- Ashley Ryan, 18, Streamwood High School senior and chamber choir secretary
"He like motivates you all the time. Whenever we are in class, he pushes us. He also like compliments us, and we feel good about it. I'm in love with music. I love to sing. At first, I sounded a little bad when I joined (the choir). I like how he pushes us to get our notes right."
-- Attlee White, 16, Streamwood High School junior, chamber choir
Tips from a great teacher
David Hain's advice ...
There are two things that go into good teaching, particularly in a music classroom, but also in all kinds of teaching:
Ÿ Create an atmosphere where there is a constant, powerful energy in the classroom. Keep students captivated at all times so there is never a point when they are bored. The classroom has to be interesting. Keep students engaged; keep the whole experience stimulating for everybody.
Ÿ Develop a connection with the community. Motivating students is a lot easier when you have parents on board, when you know their siblings, and what issues the students are dealing with in their personal lives. Take an interest in students beyond the classroom. Think about the learning community as external to the school. More important than anything else is engagement in the community and connection with parents and family. There is a time for formality, but develop relationships with students. Informality is something the students have to earn.
A Golden Apple Award finalist, Hain teaches guitar theory, music theory, choir and orchestra at the school.
Known for his colorful personality, Hain has a knack for bringing out the singer/musician in everyone, students say.
"A lot of people spend some of their time in front of the bathroom mirror with a hairbrush singing," he said. "The legitimacy of personal music and personal art is extremely important."
It's that innate musical yearning that Hain hopes to nurture.
"He, like, motivates you all the time," said Streamwood High School junior Attlee White, 16, who is part of the school's chamber choir.
"It's just so nice to have someone that's willing to take (on) anybody," chimed in senior Ashley Ryan, 18.
Hain said he tries to make music education relevant to today's students, mixing in popular music and contemporary television shows, such as the musical comedy "Glee," with teaching a more traditional, classical musical repertoire.
" 'Glee' elevated the musicianship of ordinary people that usually doesn't exist in suburbia," he said. "I always try to balance music and art that is culturally relevant to them. That means a lot of work on my part because I have to sift through pop music and figure out ways to fit pop music into orchestra/choir music. Katy Perry is big right now. I've got several kids playing Katy Perry songs for an upcoming concert on their orchestra instruments. It's a learning experience for them."
Recognizing not everyone is destined for a musical career, Hain still tries to instill an appreciation for music in his students so they can see its value in their everyday lives.
He said he is working with a student who wants to play one of his mom's favorite songs on the violin for her birthday.
"It's not educationally important. It doesn't bump him up in the skill level. What it does do is legitimizes his music as a part of his life," Hain said. "The best classrooms keep students on the edge of rebellion. It's really easy to lose students, have them disengage."
Hain said he often encounters students who think of quitting music altogether because they don't see its relevance to their future careers, if their talents are mediocre.
"There's this really crazy idea that the only way to be a legitimate musician is to do it professionally, and get paid for it," Hain said. "The way to combat that is to give them the ability to take their instruments, their voice or their music theory understanding and apply it to something that would definitely be important to them when they graduate.
"Music has always been an art. The music they make is legitimate even if they are not professionals. Understanding of music is something that they should and can carry with them. That's the way to keep music relevant to kids in high school and beyond."
The son of folk musicians, Hain learned music appreciation at a young age and grew up singing the late-Pete Seeger's songs with his parents. He later became a member of the Elgin Children's Chorus and started singing choral music.
Hain said he was planning to become a doctor when he took his first music theory class in college. It changed his course forever, and he immediately switched his major.
Today, Hain is respected in his field and has been instrumental in growing Streamwood High School's choir program from 40 to 150 students. He also founded the school's vocal ensembles, the nonprofit Streamwood Choral Society, and Streamwood Community Choir that brings teachers, students and community members together to perform.
"It's really a wonderful, fertile ground," Hain said. "We pick one gigantic piece of canon music that will become our project for the second semester."
The roughly 120-person choir has performed Handel's "Messiah," Mozart's "Requiem," and this spring will tackle a multicultural piece called "Misa Criolla" by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez. The piece is in Spanish and will bring together the Streamwood High School choirs, orchestra, community choir and Latinos Unidos campus organization. The piece will be performed March 20 at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 502 S. Park Blvd., Streamwood.
Hain said he tries to cater to the growing diversity at Streamwood High School -- the student population is 52 percent Latino -- and draw from students' cultural heritages.
"The piece was selected because it reflects the cultural diversity of our school," Hain said. "Also, our students are arranging the piece themselves. They are rewriting it for their own instruments and voices -- making it their own. We're hoping to continue our wonderful tradition of community activism."