Richey teacher pursued her passion for music

Bill Vander Weele

Richey music teacher Bridget Davis showed a love of music at an early age.

When she was 3 years old, Davis would harmonize with the back-up beeper in her dad’s backhoe as he plowed snow in her hometown of Whitehall during the winter.

“Every time I would back up, she would sing along to the beeper,” her father, Joe Davis, said. “She sang along with everything from the time she could talk.”

Davis does not come from a musical family. Joe is quick to admit that neither he nor his wife have much singing talent. “We can’t sing at all,” Joe said. “We listen to music on the radio. That’s about as musical as we are.” Davis gives her father a little more credit, saying he can sing along to twang country songs, before laughing and saying, “I don’t have a musical family.”

Despite their musical shortcomings, Davis’ parents were eager to help her develop her interest in music. When she was 4 years old, they bought her a recorder for Christmas. She had no idea how to play it, but that didn’t stop her from trying. “I don’t think I put that thing down until I was 7,” she said.

Davis became enamored with the violin when she was 8 after seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform on television, so Joe ran down to a second-hand music shop and bought her a half-sized violin as a Christmas present. “Bless my mom and dad for patience, because I was bad (at the violin),” Davis said.

In high school, Davis’ musical talent began to catch up with her interest . She took voice and clarinet lessons with her neighbor, Michelle Tebay, who Davis credits with not only helping her develop as a musician, but also instilling in her a strong work ethic.

Tebay suffers from migraine headaches and multiple sclerosis, but always had time to give Davis lessons, no matter how bad her day was going. “The whole time I had lessons, I think we only canceled twice,” Davis said. “I just thought that was so amazing and how blessed I was to have someone that would take me under her wing, even though she was teaching art classes, and she was doing a whole bunch of other things, and battling all of these back problems and migraines. How could I not go into music after that?”

Davis studied music education at the University of Montana and played saxophone in the Grizzly marching band for five years. While in college, she studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, where she saw the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as her first opera and ballet. “That totally opened up my world,” she said.

Davis is now in her second year as Richey’s music teacher, and her goal is for her students to experience music like they never have before. She took them to Missoula last year, where they saw the University of Montana’s world percussion ensemble perform.

“I was so psyched for this concert, and my kids were like, it’s just drums, it can’t be that interesting,” Davis said. After watching the first half of the concert, which featured percussion music from South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Pacific Islands and Indonesia, her students changed their tune at the intermission. “They were like, this is the coolest thing ever,” Davis said.

Davis says her students have introduced her to new music as well. In fact, she learned about her favorite current musical group, He is We, from one of her students.

Davis intends to start a drumline to entertain the crowd at R&L Fusion basketball games when the students come back from Christmas break, which will be open to all students in sixth through 12th grades.

Outside the classroom, she enjoys spending time outdoors. When she was in college, she spent her summers working with the U.S. Forest Service as a wildland firefighter and radio operator. “It paid my tuition, and I would do it all over again,” she said. “I didn’t like being the only girl on the crew, but it was a ton of fun.”

If she wasn’t teaching, Davis says she would be a marine biologist because she loves the ocean. So much so that she feels the need to watch the ocean episodes on Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth every time they come on. “I’ve seen it a gazillion times, but I have to watch it,” Davis said.

She is also working on getting her first responder license and has partially completed ski patrol training.

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