Teacher music Q&A: Cindy Koehler

Sophie Chappell, features writer

This series of articles will contain the musical interests of teachers at KHS: Lisa Hellmich, history teacher, Jason Evans, history teacher, Cindy Kohler, French teacher and Adam Rowland, English teacher. TKC asked about each teacher’s five favorite songs right now as well as their general taste in music.

Cindy Koehler:

Overall, Koehler’s music taste ranges from pop punk bands such as The Police to alternative country artists like Rayland Baxter. She enjoys Billy Joel, the B-52s and Devo as well.  


Five current favorite songs:

  1. “Trouble”– Rayland Baxter
  2. “Strange American Dream”– Rayland Baxter
  3. “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant”– Billy Joel
  4. “Bolero”– Maurice Ravel
  5. “Don’t Stand so Close to Me”– The Police


Why she likes the songs:

Strange American Dream:

“It’s not necessarily the message of the song. I like the musicality of it. It’s got a catchy refrain too. As a piano player, I like the piano.”


“I like the refrain because at some point everybody has trouble and I like the part where he says, “There’s trouble when I close my eyes.” You know like when you have bad dreams where you’re stressed and that manifests itself. I think it’s an easy song to listen to.”

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant:

“I particularly like songs that tell a story. It’s a great song, a great piece of music but the story it’s telling, I love that because it’s so real-life. The music is good, but the story is good as well.”


TKC: Is music important to you? When do you listen to music the most?  

K:“Yes, but not as important as it is to my husband and daughter. For me, music happens in my car or when I’m at home by the pool. Or in the winter on the weekends if we’re cooking, we’ll have music going. It can be a variety of music. To me, it shuts my brain off.”

TKC: Is there anyone you think of when you listen to music?

K: “Depends on the song. There are certain songs I listen to that I have a very clear association with a memory or an event or a time period in my life. There are certain songs I associate with a specific scene in my life: college roomates or the house in Bloomington or my friends in high school. Certain songs will definitely trigger a very specific memory.”

TKC: Favorite three artists of all time?

“Again, it kind of depends on my mood. I would have to say Billy Joel and Elton John. And then you get to The Beatles who are amazing.”  

TKC:  Favorite genre?

K: “If I only had to pick one. My go-to is 80s rock like Van Halen, Foreigner, those kinds of things. Again, it really depends on my mood. If I’m cooking I don’t want to listen to Van Halen.”  

TKC: Have you had a consistent taste in music or has it evolved?

K: “It has evolved. With having a child, she exposes me to music that I wouldn’t normally listen to. I was not exposed very much to symphonic music in my youth but in Emily [my daughter] playing the violin, we ended up getting a subscription to the Saint Louis Symphony.”

TKC: What do you think of music your students listen to?

“I don’t know what my students are listening to because sometimes when I reference songs my students are like, “what are you talking about?” and because my daughter no longer lives with me I don’t know what she’s listening to. Now I don’t know what the kids are listening to.”

TKC: Has teaching French affected your music taste?

K: “Somewhat. Even living in France, so much of the music was American pop in English. They would play music from all over [too], not just from the United States. I [also] feel like French rap songs are more socially aware and there’s more of a message to them. I find that challenging and thought provoking. If you can do that in a really good piece of music, I like that.”