Welcoming Helena High Choirs’ Newest Voice: Ms. Bjornstad

Welcoming+Helena+High+Choirs%E2%80%99+Newest+Voice%3A+Ms.+Bjornstad

With the start of the new year comes a lot of new faces around the school. This year, along with the new student faces, new staff can also be spotted in the hallways. Among them is choir teacher Jocelyn Bjornstad (or Queen B as her students call her), who is filling in for Mrs. Steele during her maternity leave.  

 

Music has been a part of Ms. Bjornstad’s life from a very young age. “I was part of a very musical family…my mom was a piano teacher, so we all learned how to play piano,” she said. However, Bjornstad shifted her focus from playing the piano to playing the French horn during middle school. She chose this instrument “because the way that you play notes on the French horn makes it very easy to pick out pitches, which makes you a better singer.”  

 

When she reached high school, Bjornstad took part in many musical extracurricular activities but joined the choir when she felt a need for even more music in her life. It was during her time singing with her high school choir that Ms. Bjornstad was first introduced to opera through her vocal coach. Her love for opera remained strong all the way through her secondary and post-secondary education, after which she was cast in the opera La Bohème by Rimrock Opera Company in Billings, where she played the understudy for both female lead roles. 

 

Bjornstad sang with Rimrock Opera Company for about a year. However, she suffered a severe vocal injury and was forced to end her opera career early. Although her opera career came to an end, Missoula Children’s Theatre* reached out to Ms. Bjornstad a few months later with a job offer. “…every week was magic. I loved it because if you followed the process, you were always going to succeed. Sometimes the kids didn’t believe it, [so] watching them see the magic was an incredible job,” Bjornstad said. 

 

Taking a job with the Missoula Children’s Theatre is what sparked Ms. Bjornstad’s love for education, specifically teaching the high schoolers involved in the program. “My true calling and love was [teaching] high school students…because these students are hungry for the experiences. They are doing it because they want to…because they love what they are doing.”  

 

After working with Missoula Children’s Theatre for three years, Ms. Bjornstad is now employed as a full-time permanent substitute teacher with the Helena School District. “They specifically pulled me for this role so I could cover Mrs. Steele’s maternity leave because they knew I had musical experience,” said Bjornstad. When Mrs. Steele returns to teach, Ms. Bjornstad will do about 4 weeks of substituting wherever she is needed, until she is moved to an elementary school to teach K-5 music.  

 

Even though she is not a permanent addition to the Helena High School Choir Department, she will be sorely missed when she moves on to teach the next lucky group of students. Welcome Ms. Bjornstad, and all hail Queen B! 

 

 

 

*Missoula Children’s Theatre is a children’s theatre program based in Missoula, MT, in which two actors travel around the country teaching K-12 kids an hour-long musical in five days. 

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