Amanda Tholen

I come from a very musical family that love to sing and dance with their whole heart and soul! My parents shared their love of singing with each of their children and nurtured our paths to learn assorted musical instruments, and dance as we grew into young adults.

 

My earliest memories of music are hearing my maternal grandmother, Cruz, singing me or my brood of siblings and cousins to sleep in her deep, comforting voice while being cradled in her arms. My maternal grandfather, Ventura, was a musician and played accordion and guitar. As young as 4 years of age I recall him enthusiastically playing “Feliz Navidad” and breaking into The Beatles “Twist and Shout” on his guitar for the whole family during the Christmas holiday. 

 

Catechism in Catholic church as a child is where my earliest musical education began. Many nights my older sister Melanie and I sang church hymns together before falling asleep in our beds. As a child our family gathered to celebrate weddings, quinceaneras, or to hear and dance to the local touring Tejano bands in our neck of the woods. The diversity of music I became exposed to ranged from classic church hymns, gospel music, new wave, punk, pop radio, country western and Tejano music. The Tejano musicians were so eclectic, they did not shy from covering 80’s rock and roll bands like Guns N Roses or country music by Clint Black! My dear younger brother, J.T., was a Ballet Folklorico dancer through his childhood and teens. It was marvelous to experience the classic Mexican songs, fine costumes and dances during my teenage years.

 

There was always a blend of musical cultures swirling around our ears, inviting us to move our bodies and sing in the suburbs of Houston where I was raised. In middle school I pursued percussion and continued on that path throughout my high school education at Brazoswood High School in Lake Jackson, Texas. My college career led me to the University of Texas at Austin and I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree in Mexican American Studies. Although I was not playing music professionally at that time, I was still jamming with friends on drum sets and going to as many concerts as possible to feed my love of all genres of music. My husband Bryan and I share this bond and we have traveled across the country countless times to experience our favorite bands live.

 

After college I spent years 2005 to 2009 working with children at a local children’s advocacy center in Austin, The Center for Child Protection. This portion of my career was one of the most rewarding, challenging and formative segments of my young adulthood and education regarding child development and trauma. Most importantly, the personal impact this environment and experience had on me was learning the power of resilience that children possess in the context of traumatic life events. My career path led me away from the difficult work I dedicated myself to during those years, but it became clear as time moved on that working with children provided me the most happiness and fulfillment in my career. In the fall of 2016 the arrival of my son Oliver provided an opportunity for me to stay home to care for my son full time.

 

My journey at Heartsong Music began when a dear friend recommended I sign up 10-month-old Oliver for a class. Our beloved teacher, Alyssa Cummings, provided a magical, musically immersive experience every single Friday morning for the last 2 years! Alyssa’s musical gifts, humor and kindness brought such a tremendous joy into our lives as we’ve learned each new song collection as a family. Her classes were exceptional, and furthermore the families we met and shared classes with became friends to giggle, sing, and dance with as we collectively marvel at each other’s little ones as they grow! As a parent I have absolutely fallen in love with Heartsong. I’m deeply appreciative of the philosophy, compassion, and talent the staff has to offer my family and all Heartsong families. 

 

As a new teacher at Heartsong, my goal is to continue to carry on the legacy of these fine teachers and provide a space for you and your families to laugh, dance and sing your heart out! I’m truly honored to be a part of the Heartsong family and look forward to sharing this wonderful music with your precious families.