“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.”
-Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The love of music moved Laurae Dykema at an early age. An influential teacher in her hometown in Saskatchewan, Canada, inspired something special in her. Soon opportunities opened up until she was eventually recruited and given a scholarship to Dickinson State University. Here she met her other lifetime love, a trumpet player named Les.

It’s no surprise that Laurae chose to teach elementary music within Dickinson Public Schools for over 26 years and private voice lessons for 10. The difference one teacher made in the course of her life stirred her to do the same: share her love of music with as many as possible, through multi-faceted means.

Laurae was instrumental in bringing World Drumming to our students, authoring a grant in 2017 to get a set of drums for Berg. As she attended world music seminars training around the globe, interest only grew among the students. Soon after, she was able to add Marimbas! Currently, Dickinson has two Marimba ensembles, Mbili and Ubuntu, which are the only ensembles in the entire state.

“Whether they participate as artist or audience, I want people to fall in love with music,” says Laurae.
For her, World Drumming and marimba are a way to pass along her deeply held conviction: that every culture brings something of value, worthy of respect and honor.

“I love culture. We are such a melting pot here and every culture has so much to offer,” she exclaims. “We just need to be willing to listen.”

Being Canadian-born, Laurae is sensitive to the journeys of her foreign-born students. Marimba and World Drumming have built bridges with kids from Madagascar, Cuba, and African countries.

While officially retired in May 2023, Laurae continues to lead and showcase these two unique – and extraordinary – ensembles around the state.

The legacy she leaves with her students is unfathomable. She’s mentored future music teachers, taught countless lessons, and perfected innumerable techniques. The intangible gifts of her patience, joy, openness to others, and love of culture have left an even greater impact on our entire community.

Kudos is a program of the local nonprofit organization Women Empowering Women. The program recognizes the good work women do. These are women who’ve lived quietly, joyfully, or creatively to influence our lives. They are an inspiration and deserve to be recognized for their efforts and impact. Women Empowering Women is dedicated to the collaboration of women to meet needs and help women become the best versions of themselves. To learn more, see wewnetwork.org