Lynn Bull: Music professor grabbing life by the horns

It only takes one person to change a life. Parents or grandparents may be the first to come to mind in that respect, but it is fairly safe to say that everyone has at least one teacher that stands as a close second.

Students, much like teachers, come in all shapes and sizes with all types of personalities, passions and varying degrees of patience. To find a teacher, however, who can imitate Julia Childs, proclaim Hamish the plush Highland Cow as the class mascot, and continually lift her more-than-200 students to success is a true blessing.

Lynn Bull is a highly accomplished Sam Houston State University alumna, having earned a Bachelor of Music Education for kindergarten through grade 12 and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

Her interest in music, particularly piano, began in the third grade after watching her grandmother play not only by ear, but for the silent movies of her hometown. Bull first accompanied a school band in sixth grade and first joined a choir in the eighth.

“I was really inspired by my high school choir director, Milton Pullen, at Clear Lake,” Bull said. “I remember sitting in choir my ninth grade year and thinking, ‘This is what I want to do.'”

And there was really no better way to chase that dream than to learn from the best: Sam’s very own Dr. Bev Henson, a nationally recognized choral director, and teacher.

Two years after graduation, Bull taught at Huntsville’s Junior High school and High School, only to be invited back as a teacher by SHSU’s Vocal Department Head, Dr. Walter Foster. After her next jumps from here to Leander to Houston, Bull found herself at The Woodlands High School (TWHS), where her first call was to Dr. Bob Horton, the head choir director and also a former student of hers from Huntsville High School, who later graduated from SHSU with three degrees of his own.

“I called Bob Horton and said, ‘Is this for real?'” Bull said. “And he said, ‘Is this Lynn Bull? Are you serious?’ It wasn’t so much of a job interview as it was a, ‘We’d like to have you here,’ because I taught [him] in high school.”

At TWHS, a “normal” day began at 7:20 a.m. with the 9th Grade Women’s Choir, followed by the freshman boys, another period of freshman girls, a trip to the senior campus to work with the varsity students and, finally, she taught a course in Music Theory. Her day did not end there, though. After school consisted of rehearsals for the All-State process, UIL, Solo and Ensemble and the theatre’s musicals.

“One of [my favorite aspects of teaching], of course, is being with the students and getting to know them, which you do in choir,” Bull said. “I think, more than anything, [my goal] is to bring beauty into students’ lives in a world where there’s not a lot of beauty anymore… to be an instrument connecting them with a part of themselves…that they don’t know is in there.”

She must have done something right.

Within the first few years of Bull working in The Woodlands, she revealed that she was five years cancer-free. Rightly deserving a celebration, she suggested her classes have a “Pink Day,” an event for which Dr. Horton jumped at the chance to bring cake. From there, it evolved into an annual party where everyone wore pink clothes and ate pink foods and drank pink lemonade – all to celebrate a beloved teacher, her life and the impact she had on theirs.

But nothing was too much for their teacher and friend.

“After Christmas, about six of the freshman girls came to me and said… they’d gone out Christmas caroling and raised money for breast cancer research, and I was so impressed by that,” Bull said. “They raised close to $600, and it was just those six girls, so I thought, ‘You know, this is too great an idea for it to be just this one year,’ so I challenged them to keep going with it.”

The trend exploded. That next year, and every year since, the choir set aside one evening in December to walk neighborhoods around The Woodlands and raise money for breast cancer research. The event, aptly named “Caroling for the Cure,” reigns in between 35 and 75 volunteers annually. In two hours, the group has been able to raise up to four thousand dollars in donations.

The Woodlands carries on the tradition even after Bull’s retirement in 2015 after 32 years of teaching. Her time has not been spent twiddling her thumbs but rather tickling the ivories.

Besides spending much more time with her husband, two daughters and two beautiful grandchildren, she still teaches private voice lessons, accompanies several high school choirs including The Woodlands High School’s and their theatre’s production of ‘Guys and Dolls‘. She is also a pianist for the Bay Area Chorus under her own high school choir director.

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