.. and yet they all get along seamlessly and sing so beautifully together. It’s amazing to witness not only the power of music bringing people together but the power of Rabun Gap’s mission at work."
Ms. Allegra Boggess leads our Upper School music program. Her duties include directing Rabun Gap’s orchestra and choir and serving as the music director for the musical and cirque. She joined Rabun Gap in 2017.
Ms. Boggess brings a wealth of international experience to the music program at Rabun Gap. She started her career teaching music for a year at Shanti Bhavan, a school for disadvantaged children in rural southern India. She taught piano, oboe and music academics for five years at Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, Afghanistan, the first and only music school in Afghanistan.
A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Ms. Boggess holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. Ms. Boggess has been teaching music both privately and in the education sector for ten years.
Ms. Boggess, originally from Denver, CO, lives on campus with her two cats. In her spare time, she is learning mandolin and loves being outside in the sun.
What made you choose to work at Rabun Gap?
I never really considered working at a boarding school until I heard about Rabun Gap. Its mission, diversity, commitment to well-rounded kids, and of course the gorgeous location and historic legacy were all appealing.
Tell us about what you did before coming to Rabun Gap, especially about your time in Afghanistan.
I worked in Afghanistan for five years before coming to Rabun Gap. I taught piano, oboe, and worked with an all-girls orchestra. It was simultaneously the most challenging, difficult, exciting, and inspiring years of my life so far.
How has your work in Afghanistan affected your job here?
My favorite tie-over between my job in Afghanistan and my job at Rabun Gap has been sharing Afghan folksongs with my students here. Not only are they beautiful, but they have unique lessons for the students - different modes, meters, and percussion!
What makes Rabun Gap special to you?
The students. I love that in my choir, for example, there are kids from Missouri, Rwanda, China, England, the Caribbean, North Carolina, Nigeria, Vietnam.. and yet they all get along seamlessly and sing so beautifully together. It’s amazing to witness not only the power of music bringing people together but the power of Rabun Gap’s mission at work.
What do you like most about teaching as part of the Upper School music department?
I love working with the amazing team of faculty members we have in the arts department. We share a dedication to nurturing our students that crosses all of our disciplines and makes for a really energizing environment both for faculty and students. Instead of competing for students between disciplines, we encourage the students to cross over and try multiple arts. When I was in high school, you were either a choir kid, a band kid, an art kid, a theater kid, a dancer, or a tech kid - you couldn’t dream of doing it all!
Why did you decide to become a music teacher?
I was lucky enough to have really supportive, kind, inspiring, motivating, and challenging music teachers from an early age all the way through college and I came to the realization that more than playing music, I really love teaching music and hopefully having an influence on young lives the way my teachers had on me. Music teachers not only teach music, but we teach dedication, patience, perseverance, coordination, emotional intelligence, poetry, self-expression, creativity, the importance of failure, self-confidence…. the list goes on and on.
What is your teaching philosophy?
The Nike slogan pretty much sums up a lot of my teaching philosophy with teenagers - just do it. Teenagers often get stuck in their heads worrying they can’t do something, or that they’ll be made fun of, or that they’ll fail at something. But if they just do it, they realize they actually can do it and that it’s actually fun and not as hard as they thought.
What were you like in high school?
I was (and still am) an introvert. My favorite classes were English and physics - and the choir room was always my happy place.
What is your favorite memory from the time you have worked here so far?
My favorite memory so far was when I arranged my absolute favorite Afghan folksong for the orchestra. It was a very difficult piece for the students as it was in a slow 7/8 meter. Back in Afghanistan, traditional Afghan instruments played the main melody (rubab and tanbur), and so at Rabun Gap I had two students play it on American “traditional” instruments: banjo and mandolin. Only at Rabun Gap would such an experience be possible.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I have two matching orange cats - one I brought with me from Afghanistan, and the other I adopted as a kitten from Cashiers/Highlands Humane Society. They are my world outside teaching music.