Music is more than a fleeting melody for music instructor T. A. Sigafus, author of The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit. Sigafus is the owner of a music store in Missouri, where she teaches guitar lessons out of her small back room. "Sometimes I feel like the nutty professor," she laughs, shuffling through a toppling tower of music books in search of her appointment calendar, as she attempts to squeeze another new student into an already packed schedule. "I’ll never turn down a child who wants to learn to play music," she vows.
Sigafus grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she started writing poems and stories at the age of seven. Unable to afford lessons, Sigafus taught herself to play the guitar so she could put her poems and stories to music. She describes herself as an unusual child. "While the other kids were playing ‘kick the can’," admits Sigafus, "I was held up in my bedroom putting the ink to the paper, scribbling feverishly to capture the words that were swirling around in my head, before they drifted out the window into the soft, summer day. My dream was to someday write a book."
After high school, Sigafus put her creative ambitions on hold in order to study to become a respiratory therapist. After graduating, she landed a job at the University of Minnesota Hospital, working in the neonatal unit. Much to her dismay, she soon discovered that her desire to play music was growing too strong to ignore. She decided to abandon her hard-earned occupation to join a traveling folk-rock band. It was there that she met and married her husband. The couple continued to travel and perform until their first child was born. It was becoming obvious to the Sigafuses that being on the road was taking its toll on their growing family. In 1990, they decided to settle onto a small farm in Missouri, where Ms. Sigafus returned to her writing while home schooling her four children.
In 2002, the Sigafuses moved to a larger town, where Mr. Sigafus could be closer to his work. Ms. Sigafus decided to enroll her children in the local Christian Academy—a move that would change her life forever. After an introductory visit with the principal, Sigafus was invited to teach music at the academy. Although she had never given much thought to teaching, she enthusiastically accepted the position.
The next week, she blew the dust off her old, black Yamaha guitar and headed off for her first day of school like an anxious child. It didn’t take long for Sigafus to fit right in. "The kids really took to my guitar," Sigafus explains. "In fact, they all wanted to learn to play! Then, I brought a violin to class . . . and then a cello, and started teaching them about string instruments and classical composers. They were so excited, and so was I."
Sigafus found herself swamped with requests for private music lessons. That’s when she opened Main Street Music, a private lesson studio and small music supply store, where she currently rotates a roster of 54 students per week.
The idea for The Little Maestro Mysteries came to Sigafus as she was conducting a string ensemble rehearsal at the academy. "There were these four students who were always fooling around," she recalls. "And instead of getting mad at them, I was cracking up laughing. They were hilarious! That’s when I decided to base my four main characters on those students, and I just started writing. The rest is in the book."
The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit is the first book in what will be a series of Little Maestro Mysteries, published by Clairborne Publishing Group. The story takes place in the town of Shady Tree, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Sigafus' home town. The Maestros, a group of four young music students under the direction of their eccentric music teacher, Madam Macaroni, set out to solve a mystery involving a stolen Beethoven symphony. "The premise behind the series is to teach music through mysteries," says Sigafus. "Each book will introduce various rudiments of music and music history in a fun, whimsical fashion."
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