DeAun Sanders

Our family’s story with Ken Ellis started one day when Ken asked Courtney to try out for the chorus of STAB’s production of Hello, Dolly! She was in the 8th grade. Our older daughter Kelly had been working with Ken in the STAB musicals for a few years at this point. Courtney had been performing in plays, but shied away from auditioning for the musicals because she couldn’t sing. But with Ken’s encouragement she joined the chorus and performed and danced but did not want to sing.

After the musical, Ken took both girls into his music studio and started teaching them. After a few weeks of voice lessons, Ken called us to report that Courtney had a beautiful singing voice! We were sure he had confused the two sisters and was talking about Kelly! But, after some back and forth we realized that he really meant Courtney!

And she does have a beautiful voice and Ken was able to teach her how to use it. Ken was just the teacher they both needed: patient, fun, and talented. Courtney has gone on to many voice teachers since then. She has performed in musicals and operas and oratorios during her time at STAB and at Yale and is now applying to graduate schools for vocal performance.

Kelly, who we knew could sing all along, also continues to sing in a choir in Madison, Wisconsin. We are grateful to Ken for nudging Courtney into performing in that first musical! It really did change the course of her life.

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