Alise Schram, a soprano, pianist, organist, and composer, has enjoyed a career as a soloist, music educator, and church musician for over forty years. Additionally, she has been extensively involved as a volunteer in and advocate for numerous causes associated with drug prevention and programs for handicapped children.
Alise was born in Corona, California, one of two daughters born to Clarence Andrew and Mildred Alise Pleasants Schram. The girls were raised in a home where music was a central activity, their mother being active as an amateur singer and performer on piano, organ, marimba, and vibraharp. Alise recently talked about her early childhood experiences in music and subsequent study:
My mother used to stand me up by the piano at home and teach me children's songs. When I was about four years old I sang for a colporteur rally - "Dear Old Curly Tail" and "Jesus Loves Me." My mother made sure I got piano and speech lessons. I took piano and organ lessons in academy and started taking voice lessons in my last year. It was during that year that I decided on music as a career.
After Alise graduated from San Pasqual Academy in Escondido, California, in 1964, she enrolled at La Sierra College and the next year transferred to Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, where she studied voice under Paul Hill, Kermit Finstad, and Joshua Rivera. She was a member of and soloist with CUC's select choir, Pro Musica, and the Washington Adventist Chorus and served for a year as choir director at a nearby Seventh-day Adventist church, her first church music position.
She graduated from CUC in 1969 with a degree in music education and was listed in the 1968-1969 edition of Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. Schram then attended Andrews University, where she studied voice under Rudolf Strukoff and sang as a member of and soloist with his select choral group. She completed an M.Mus. in vocal performance in 1970. In June of that year, Schram toured with Estelle Jorgensen, who had also just completed an M.Mus. at AU, performing concerts in several Midwestern states and in the Canadian province of Alberta.
Schram taught for a year at Hinsdale Junior Academy, now Hinsdale Academy, before accepting a position at Calgary SDA School in Alberta, Canada, where she taught grades four through six and music in the first six grades for the next four years. During her time in Canada she received an L.Mus. in 1974 from the Western Board of Music, the University of Alberta.
In 1973 she entered the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, where she won the F. L. Newnham Rose Bowl, the Dr. T. B. Blow Memorial Cup as the adjudicator's choice for the most outstanding performance in all vocal solo classes, and the Women's Musical Club Trophy. She then won first place at the Alberta provincial level in Edmonton and Banff and placed second in the national vocal competition.
The following year Schram won the Rose Bowl award again as well as the Wilda Blow Bernard Memorial Trophy in the Kiwanis festival. The Western Board of Music, University of Alberta, also awarded her the silver medal for vocal performance in that year. In that same year she and Jorgensen again toured in the U.S. and Canada and made a recording at World Records in Nashville, Tennessee.
From 1975 to 1978, she taught at Valley View Elementary, serving as the music and science specialist and operetta and handbell director. In the seven years Schram resided in Calgary, she was active in the local Adventist church as choir director, accompanist, member of the Maranatha Singers, and a frequent soloist. For four of those years, she was also involved with the Knox United Church as a soloist and section leader in its choir. In 1978 she completed an Educational Diploma in educational curriculum and instruction at the University of Calgary.
In that same year, Schram relocated to Eastern Canada, where she would reside for the next ten years. In that decade, she was active in music in both Ontario and Newfoundland. She continued to work with the United Church in Toronto, as she had in Calgary, for two years and with Adventist schools and churches in the area, directing their choirs and assisting in crusades and making media appearances on radio and TV as a soloist. During this time she taught music at Toronto Junior Academy for two years and during one crusade gave a concert with Wintley Phipps.
From 1981 to 1984, Schram worked with the Newfoundland-Labrador Mission in St. Johns, assisting as she had in Toronto in crusades and doing appearances on media as a singer. She again performed with Phipps in a concert. She would later recall her time in Newfoundland as a memorable experience in her career.
On her return to the province of Ontario, she sang as a soloist and served as music coordinator in crusades. From 1985 to 1988, she ran the Alise Schram School of Music in Chatham, Ontario, where she provided instruction in voice, keyboard, music theory, recorder, guitar, and saxophone. She also gave early childhood music instruction and helped prepare students for music conservatory examinations in voice, piano, and theory.
In 1988 Schram accepted a position teaching K-6 music at Forest Lake Elementary Educational Center in Longwood, Florida. From 1989 to 1999, she lived primarily in the Orlando area, where she was involved in a number of music activities including being a member of the Messiah Choral Society, teaching in the public school system, and teaching private lessons.
She also served in a number of church related music positions, including those at Kress Memorial SDA Church and the Florida Hospital Choir, both in Orlando; the Powers Drive Baptist Church in Orlando; and the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Lake Mary.
From 1990 to 1992, she taught in the public school systems in nearby Seminole and Volusia counties. In the latter, she worked in Deland at the Boston Avenue School for mentally handicapped children as a music therapist and choir and activities director.
From 1982 and continuing until 1996, Schram worked as a volunteer in Concepts in Prevention, a program of the Canadian and American Institutes for the Prevention of Addiction, and Community Crusade Against Drugs. In that work she was involved in mobile drug education unit instruction, fundraising, giving seminars, classroom teaching, program development, and coordination of volunteers. She also took thirty hours in child training and DAP courses in Orlando in 1996 and 1997.
In 1999 She moved to the Takoma Park, Maryland, area, where she taught music in the Sligo Adventist School for two years. During that time she also served as choir director and organist and pianist at Trinity Baptist Church in nearby Hyattsville.
Throughout her career, Schram studied voice with several other teachers besides those mentioned earlier. These included Moses Chalmers at La Sierra College, now University; Merritt Schumann in Colorado; Eileen Higgin and Frederick Newnham in Calgary; Bernart Diament at the University of Toronto; Robert Maloy at the Eastman School of Music; and Edmund LeRoy at Rollins College in Florida.
She recorded two vocal albums, My Little World and The Gospel in Song, and has composed and arranged music and written poetry. One of her efforts included an adaptation of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite (with choreography for wheelchairs) for TMH/PMH children and their teachers and teachers’ assistants. She has also done charity work in music for senior citizen centers and nursing homes.
Schram now resides in Woodbridge, Virginia, and continues to serve as organist and choir director at the Trinity Baptist Church.
Source: Information provided by Alise Schram, September and december 2011; Central Union Reaper, 30 June 1970, 10; Australasian Record, 1 February 1971, 17; 27 January 1975, 7; 14 March 1977, 22.