POPLARVILLE - Dr. Pamela Jones brings a deeply-held personal interest to her presentation as the recipient of the Humanities Teacher of the Year Award at Pearl River Community College.
Jones discussed “Dyslexia and the Music Student” on Oct. 25 at Malone Chapel on the Poplarville campus.
A music instructor at PRCC in Poplarville, she has appeared in numerous stage productions in the Hattiesburg area. But it is her experience with her 12-year-old son, who is dyslexic, that sparked her interest in the topic.
“Most people think that dyslexia only affects a person’s ability to read, but it can make it very difficult for a person studying music as well,” she said. “Students who have dyslexia have difficulty decoding symbols when they read. Music consists of symbols, so they have trouble remembering the note names, for example.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s also hard for them to count, to learn rhythm. It’s hard for singers because it’s difficult to read the words and read the music at the same time.”
Despite the difficulty, studying music can be very beneficial to a dyslexic student, a topic under study by the National Institutes of Health, she said.
“When my own son started taking piano, his reading scores shot up several grade levels,” Jones said. “It’s helped him tremendously in processing information.”
The Mississippi Humanities Council annually honors teachers from all regions of the state with the award. Each honoree receives a $500 honorarium and presents a special lecture in his or her discipline to the community.
“Dr. Jones is an exceptional example of an instructor staying current in her chosen field,” said Dr. Martha Lou Smith, vice president for general education and technology services. “Not only is she active in performance and professional organizations, she explores ways in which to enhnace the learning experience of her students.”
Jones teaches voice, music appreciation and theory lab at PRCC. She holds an associate’s degree from Jones County Junior College and the bachelor of music education and the master of music in vocal performance degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She spent a year studying voice, opera and Italian language in Italy as an International Rotary Foundation graduate scholar and earned a diploma in Italian language from the L’Universitá Italiana per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. Upon returning to the United States, she attended the University of Maryland, College Park where she completed the acclaimed Maryland Opera Studio program and received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance and Literature.
While living in the Washington, D.C. area, Jones was a finalist in the National Symphony Orchestra Young Soloist Competition, appeared on the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Young Performers’ Recital Series and received the Maryland Governor’s Award for Excellence twice. She has appeared in numerous concerts and recitals in the U.S. and Italy.
Jones has appeared with the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera as Anna in The King and I, Elsa in The Sound of Music and Jenny Lind in Barnum. With Southern Opera and Musical Theatre, she performed the lead role in Susannah, Frasquita in Carmen, and a lead role in It’s a Grand Night for Singing. She attends Trinity Episcopal Church where she sings in the choir. Jones is a Pokémon League Leader and former Rome, Italy Pokémon champion.
She and her husband, Luigi Zaninelli, have one son, Gian Luigi.