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Local Artist Spotlight: Emily Hoppe


My mom and me. Photo by Kathryn Hoppe

Having been raised by a brilliant music educator, I often feel like I’ve been teaching my whole life! My first experiences were helping my mom in her classroom, conducting hand chimes, leading circle songs and, by the time I got to high school, directing musicals with her! My love for music was cultivated before I was even born and my love for children came soon thereafter.


Cinderella at Samford University. Photo by Starla Castle

There has been so much research to prove what my mom has always taught me: music education is vital to the life of the child. I am so fortunate to have had such a strong upbringing and I am very thankful for places like Mason Music for making music accessible to all children! I love to see kids mesmerized by listening to a song and by learning to play and sing themselves! Their natural energy for everything translates so beautifully in the music classroom and I feel lucky everyday for the magic we create together.


Creative Drama at Children’s Dance Foundation. Photo by Emily Hoppe

I love how my teaching informs my art and my art informs my teaching. Every show I do, I learn something that I know I can bring to children in the classroom, be it a dance combination or a warm-up activity or a method for communicating through a beautiful turn of phrase from another educator. Because that’s what directors are: educators. My emphasis in college was directing and I am so thankful for the pedagogy I learned through that institution. Likewise, helping students learn healthy singing and techniques and fundamentals keeps everything fresh for me and informs my own life as a performer. I couldn’t do one without the other.


Seussical the Musical at Gardendale Arts Council. Photo by Sarah Steeley

​I received my B.A. in music and theatre from Samford University. My senior year, I directed a children’s musical that we toured around the city to schools and children’s centers like the YWCA. It was amazing to be able to see something I helped to create bring joy to so many little faces! As a performer, I have always found that being on stage with an audience full of young people is the most fulfilling experience to have. This past summer I had the opportunity to be in Seussical the Musical with several students from the area and it was such a joy to put together a show with and for young artists.


Hairspray at Theatre Tuscaloosa. Photo by Porfirio

​Beyond children’s theatre, my favorite memories on stage are from two different productions of Hairspray. Years ago, Red Mountain Theatre Company conducted a search across the state of Alabama for “Tracy Turnblad” and I got to play the part! Tracy embodies everything I wish for my life to be and filling her shoes has impacted my career in ways I never could have dreamed. Her positive view of the world is a lesson for us all and she has inspired me to believe in myself. ​In the summer of 2014, Theatre Tuscaloosa hosted open auditions and I was again able to secure the most exciting role of my dreams. On top of it all, we were surprised to have Marc Shaiman, cEmily6omposer and co-lyricist, come to one of our shows and I had the pleasure of meeting him after.


Parachute time at Gymboree Play and Music. Photo by Elizabeth Reid

​The biggest challenge is to balance it all. In addition to teaching a residency through Red Mountain Theatre Company with the Better Basics program, I am also the music teacher at Alabama Waldorf School, teaching first through fifth grade music and leading the middle school chorus. Music teaches us many things, including timing and patience, and I allow it to move me everyday from sun up to sun down.


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