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LaDonna Manternach

Chair and Associate Professor of Music
Office: 107 EKH 
Mail Stop: 1726 
Phone: 6359 


Degrees earned: MME, DMA

Professional experience: LaDonna lyric soprano, earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance at the University of Hartford, Hartt School in West Hartford, Conn. At Clarke University, she chairs the music department and instructs private voice, elementary music education methods and guides senior thesis paper development.

LaDonna has continually focused on teaching music since completing her undergraduate degree in music (vocal performance) with a concentration in music education at Clarke University. She taught elementary and middle school music in Catholic schools in Bellevue, Iowa, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Calif. and Des Moines, Iowa. In the schools she established successful school choruses and enjoyed directing school musicals with over 500 participants. She earned a master’s degree in music education with an emphasis in Kodàly methodology from Holy Names College, Oakland, Calif. She returned to Clarke University as staff liturgist and music instructor in 1996.

LaDonna enjoys performing in choral groups and as a soloist. In 2006, she recorded a collection of 15 songs, Love’s Rondelay, by composer Robert J. Dvorak, for the Alliance Publications Inc. label. She has collaborated with composers and seeks to premiere new works. In 2012, she recorded two song cycles by Dr. Amy Dunker: Teasdale Songs and Dickinson Songs. Her most recent faculty recital of French melodies highlighted her sabbatical travels to France in 2011.

Her operatic roles include that of Mrs. Gobineau (Menotti’s The Medium) and Annina (Verdi’s La Traviata).

As a soprano soloist, LaDonna frequently sings for the Sinsinawa (Wis.) Mound Civic Chorus’ annual performances of the Messiah. In 2012, she performed Antonin Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and Grieg’s incidental music to Peer Gynt with the Finger Lakes Choral Festival at Hochstein Hall in Rochester, New York. This past year, she sang with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Bach’s Cantata No. 150. She performs regularly as a chorister with the Dubuque Chorale. Since 2012, LaDonna raises her baton with the Archdiocesan Chorale of Dubuque.

Teaching philosophy: Good teaching begins by meeting, a student at his/her place of comfort, skill level, and level of interest. It leads a student beyond his/her place of comfortable unknowing, to a new level of skill and interest. It means being a good listener and a convincing speaker.

The student/teacher relationship is one of trust and caring. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn more about a subject but also more about oneself. It is important to take the subject seriously, but not to take one’s self too seriously.

Clarke’s impact on LaDonna: Clarke is where I first came to college. When I returned as a music instructor and campus ministry staff member, it was a joy to be working with some of those who had taught me just 14 years earlier. It was then, and continues to be, a friendly and caring place to learn. Thank you to the Clarke BVMs and faculty who encouraged me. I am a proud member of the Clarke faculty today.

LaDonna’s impact on students: Teaching is a special calling in life. It is challenging because the process of learning takes many avenues. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing back from students, often many years later, who share a story of how, unknowingly, you made a difference in their lives.

LaDonna’s favorite:

– Babe

Book – Whatever I’m reading now

Quote – “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Victor Hugo

Class in college – Elementary Music Methods

Place traveled - Nice, France

Hobby – Baking bread

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