Mrs. Lyons: A continued legacy of greatness

Staff Features on the Music Department


Logan Manske

Choir Director Mrs. Tara Lyons smiles excitedly before opening night of “The Addams Family”

Mrs. Tara Lyons is our newest edition to Westby’s Music Department. She serves as our middle and high school choir director. When asked why she chose Westby, she stated, “Westby’s my community, right? When we first moved here 11 years ago I found Mr. Engh, and I found ways to accompany the choir. I got connected through living here, and it was a natural progression. When the opportunity came to teach at Westby it was a no-brainer. I live here and my kids go here, it’s just convenient.” From the outside looking in she seamlessly made her way into our staff, but in reality she had a large obstacle to get over.

Our previous choir director, Mr. Peter Engh, has been described as, “a true figure head for Westby.” Lyons was met with a lot of comments from our community on whether or not she could match his proficiency. The worry was almost constant as she expressed, “I had to find an answer, I couldn’t cower and stress out- I had to come up with something. I always heard they love this town, the program, Mr. Engh, and of course the kids. But that’s his legacy. I’m not trying to be him, or outshine him. He’s paved the path, and I’ll walk alongside.”

Ultimately, it’s always about the students. She teaches our Cantate (9th grade girls) and Concert Choir. A member from the Cantate Choir said, “She brings a positive vibe to her class and puts everyone in a good mood.” While a member from the Concert Choir said,”Mrs. Lyons is very energetic and bright. She’s very efficient, and works hard to better herself and our choir.” She also has two other choirs that practice outside of school: Jazz and A Capella choir.

Mrs. Tara Lyons meets her cardboard counterpart
Lyons meets her cardboard counterpart (Kristal Levendoski)

Lyons has always loved singing. Before Westby, she taught at Viterbo University for seven years as a vocal coach, and taught music theory there every other semester. But what started her fascination with vocals in music? Lyons said, “I learned vocal pedagogy, I taught HOW TO SING. That’s my degree. It’s lonely, but it’s those intimate relationships where you get to know people well. I sang in a choir when I was a child, and I’ve sang ever since. I sang everywhere forever and ever and ever. Then I quit singing and I missed choral music.. I missed collaborating with people to make music. I realized it was a gap- it was something missing. I’m thrilled to be working here. And yeah, COVID made it more isolating. I think I just realized that I missed collaborating with other people.”

Lyons is incredibly accomplished and well versed, and Westby is fortunate to have her. She has a fun enjoyable energy, and her individual work with students is fun and productive. On the future of Westby she said, “Westby’s going to be a continued legacy of greatness. We will continue and we will be a force. We will continue to make great music. We will never reach our peak. We will always be growing. We will do bigger and better things even when I’m no longer here.”