ELYRIA â€” A local junior high school music teacher is making an international name for herself as a musician thanks in part to the Internet.
Rachel Wearsch, a choir and general music teacher at Eastern Heights Junior High School in Elyria, has been playing one instrument or another since she was 6. She loves introducing music to her students, but these days she is busy marketing herself and her own music on the Internet.
â€œItâ€™s some folk music mixed with country and blues. Itâ€™s pretty eclectic,â€ Wearsch said. â€œItâ€™s all songs I wrote.â€
Wearsch got her masterâ€™s degree in music education from the University of Akron and has been teaching seventh- and eighth-graders for seven years.
And within the last few months, she created a Web site â€” www.rachelandthebeatnikplayboys.com
â€” where she showcases her work and sells her CD, titled â€œLife of Love.â€
As if that werenâ€™t enough, Wearsch also is married, with two children and two step-children.
â€œI grew up in a very musical family,â€ she said. â€œI was surrounded by it. My parents had a farm in Medina, and my dad decided our barn needed to be the music barn. I started studying classical piano at age 6. We had musicians over all the time for jam sessions. Music has always been a huge part of my life.â€
Wearschâ€™s parents, avid country music fans, introduced her to a variety of music and musicians. In addition to the piano, Wearsch also plays bass, mandolin and guitar, and is studying the lap steel.
â€œI sing and play, and I started playing professionally at age 12,â€ she said. â€œThat was a full-time job for me then, in addition to school. I played with different bands at festivals and in clubs. I was young, but my parents were very strict and were always with me. It was a lot of fun.â€
Wearsch has opened locally for some high-profile names, including Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Clint Black and The Judds.
Do her students know they are learning from a local celebrity?
â€œNot really,â€ Wearsch said. â€œMaybe a little, but I try to keep that very separate. I love my teaching job. Iâ€™m so lucky to be able to do something that I love.â€
After she set up her Web site, Wearsch started getting international recognition.
â€œIâ€™ve gotten a good response,â€ she said. â€œQuite a few public radio stations and a few Internet stations are playing my songs. I love looking at comments from people in Germany and Ireland whoâ€™ve downloaded my music. Iâ€™m getting to talk to people from all over the world. It makes the world a smaller place for me.â€
What was it like opening for Emmylou Harris â€” one of her favorite artists? â€œIt was a thrill,â€ Wearsch said.
Wearsch said she loves that she gets to share her love of music, which was so much a part of her childhood, with her students.
â€œTeaching is totally different from performing, but itâ€™s very rewarding,â€ she said. â€œI was a shy child, and singing and performing was a way of expressing myself and my feelings.
â€œFor my students, I want them to have that same experience. I want music for them to be a way to express themselves in a positive way. Itâ€™s very cool.â€
Fan quotes posted on her Web site indicate her listeners feel the same way. Thereâ€™s everything from â€œthe voice of a country angelâ€ to the rather concise â€œyou freakinâ€™ rock!â€
Fans can purchase songs or her CD on her Web site, or sites including MP3.com, payplay.fm, cdbaby.com, itunes.com and others.