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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Upper School Choral Music Director Sarah Markovits Reflects on Teaching Journey


According to Sarah Markovits, Sidwell’s Upper School Choral Music Director, “Singing has always been the only time my brain shuts off. When I’m singing, everything kind of falls away, and all I kind of focus on is the sounds. I think that’s why it’s been so appealing to me.”

Though Markovits has been working at Sidwell for seven years now, her journey to Sidwell shaped her singing and teaching career. Always passionate about music, in fifth grade Markovits joined the St. Louis Children’s Choir, where she sang all the way through middle and high school. While doing international touring and conferences with her choir group, she fell in love with choral singing. 

“When I was going to college, I was deciding on a biology or music major but I decided on music because it had always been more of a challenge for me, something I felt like I had to work at. Knowing myself, I needed that kind of challenge,” said Markovits in an interview.

Markovits wound up going to college for musical performance in opera, but her favorite part of the day was always choir. She continued singing in choruses and even church choirs throughout high school and college.

Markovits always knew she wanted to teach, a passion inspired by her parents, who were both teachers. Even in college, Markovits had private students and would give friends voice lessons in her dorm. “Teaching has always been something I wanted to do, so just kind of combining that with music was a great fit,” she said. 

Markovits sang in a professional choir in Seattle for many years, and after finishing her master’s degree, she taught voice at the University of Hawaii as well as at the Punahou School in Hawaii. She then moved back to Seattle to work on her doctorate and teach at a community college. After finishing her doctorate, she taught at Shenandoah University, worked with Encore Stage & Studio in Arlington and taught voice at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. 

When Markovits heard about the open position at Sidwell, she thought it was a great opportunity to work with an ensemble, since in the past she had mainly focused on individual students. She recalls having a great experience meeting the students and faculty at Sidwell. 

“I felt like this was a place where I could create bonds with people, and that’s the most important thing whenever you’re looking for a place to work or a place to be,” Markovits explained. “I felt a community here immediately.” 

Markovits feels that her job at Sidwell has completely changed her life, and she loves having choirs of her own where she gets to choose the music and decide the best parts for everyone. When teaching, she tries to break things into manageable pieces and be very consistent in her methods. Repetition with improvement is her main goal. She also wants all her students to feel prepared to sing anywhere once they graduate. 

“I want everyone to have the tools, [like] understanding basic music theory and music reading, so you can walk into any situation, pick up a piece of music and read it,” she explained.

Markovits is very proud of Sidwell’s arts program today, and loves that students can feel safe doing art at Sidwell. She believes the arts teachers have done a great job of making people feel comfortable, as well as helping students express themselves fully through art. 

“I always felt very welcomed and honestly just very happy whenever I was in chorus with her,” said Zoe Verma ’23. “She created such a great learning environment, encouraging people to go out of their comfort zone with something that is already fairly vulnerable while also encouraging us to make new friends and just have fun.” 

The Upper School Chorus includes both Full Chorus, which is open to everyone, and Chamber Chorus, which is by audition. Members of Chamber Chorus expand on the music in Full Chorus and receive opportunities to travel, including a week-long trip to Italy this summer. 

“I’m super excited because we’re going to get to sing with other choirs from around the world,” said Markovits. She thinks it will be an incredible experience for Chamber Chorus to share music with other ensembles. 

Markovits is always looking out for opportunities to sing and continues her passion daily, teaching full time. She also has recently done choral conducting workshops. 

Markovits is hoping to expand Sidwell’s Chorus in the future: “I would love for this ensemble to grow. That’s my goal, is for us to have a really big choir. It’s really fun, and the more people you have, you can do some really interesting stuff and you can reach more people.”

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