Carol Yvonne Adams Swinyar

1951 -

Carol Swinyar, a singer and pianist with an avid interest in elementary music education, has been a music teacher and administrator for over 35 years. She has taught from pre-school through the college and university levels and from coast to coast in the U.S. mainland, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii. She is now semi-retired and resides in Chino Valley, Arizona.

Carol was born in Walla Walla, Washington, one of four daughters born to Marie Jenkins and Earl Adams. Her parents were teachers in the Adventist school system and she lived no more than three years in any one place while growing up, residing in the West, Midwest, Southeast, and the East as well as Iran.

Her mother, who had graduated in 1951 from Walla Walla College, now University, with a B.A. in voice, played piano and saxophone and her father also sang and played piano and trombone. Carol grew up surrounded and immersed in music activity and, at age five, while her parents were teaching in Iran, started taking piano lessons from Dorothy Oster, a fellow missionary.

While piano lessons continued with a number of teachers as her parents moved frequently, she particularly enjoyed her study in Baltimore, Maryland, with Hattie Thompson, an older teacher who took an interest in her and encouraged her in her music study. By the time she was in fifth grade, she was accompanying her mother's choirs and other musicians.

Carol also began singing and in her freshman year at Jefferson Academy in Texas, she started and sang in a girls' trio. From then on, she sang in several groups throughout her academy years. She also learned to play the clarinet so that she could be a member of the band.

Carol attended another academy before graduating from Highland View Academy in 1969. In addition to her mother, Cecil Lemon at Greater Baltimore Academy and Gerald Ferguson, her first voice teacher at HVA, were important inspirational teachers during her academy years.

She began serious study in voice with Dorothy Ackerman in her first year at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University. Ackerman would not only be her primary voice teacher in her college years, but would also become her mentor and close personal friend. Carol completed a B.Mus.Ed. in 1973, with voice and piano as her performance areas.

By the time she graduated from SMC, she had married trumpeter Gary Swinyar, also a music education graduate. In the following years, as they moved to accommodate his career as a band director and eventually an administrator, she filled her role as a mother to two children and taught as a freelance music teacher. For fourteen years, she gave private lessons in piano and voice, taught pre-school and kindergarten music classes, and conducted church children's choirs.

During those years she held part-time music positions at Adventist church schools in Oregon, Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state. From 1994 to 1997, she taught as an itinerant music teacher in four Adventist schools in the Seattle-Tacoma area and, in the last year, while still traveling between three SDA schools, taught kindergarten music at four schools in the Sumner, Washington, public school system.

Her work in Sumner led to a full-time appointment in 1997 as an elementary K-6 music specialist teaching at Liberty Ridge Elementary School in that community. For the next five years, she filled a number of roles at LRES, including chairing the committee overseeing assemblies, supervising a student teacher, and mentoring another.

In 2002 she joined her husband, who, a year earlier had accepted a position as principal of the Ruth Murdoch Elementary School in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and started work on a master's degree in education at Andrews University. While doing graduate study, she team-taught an upper division class at AU to general education majors on integrating the arts and movement into the elementary school curriculum. Additionally, she taught K-6 music in the Boynton Montessori Magnet School and in the Martin Luther King Elementary school in Benton Harbor. She completed an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction in 2004.

The Swinyars moved to South Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 2004, where he became superintendent of education for the Southern New England Conference and she began working in the Thayer Performing Arts Center, a community music school associated with Atlantic Union College. She initially taught general music to children ages three and four, class piano to children ages five to eight and adults, and served as TPAC assistant director for two years before becoming its director, a position she held from 2006 to 2011.

She was also an adjunct faculty member at AUC, where she taught music education classes to music majors. In 2007 she started an ongoing apprentice teacher program at Browning Memorial Elementary School in which college music education students taught music under her mentorship and supervision. In 2011 the Swinyars relocated to the Gulf States Conference, where he served as superintendent of education until his retirement in December 2013, and she as a volunteer in elementary schools as they traveled in the conference. 

Swinyar is a certified Kodaly Educator and has completed Orff Schuwerk at levels I and II. Because of her extensive training and experience in elementary music teaching, she is passionate about the importance of mentoring pre-service and in-service music teachers and developing and maintaining an effective music curriculum for the elementary level. She wrote "Music - You Can Teach It!" for the Journal of Adventist Education, an article published in the October/November 2008 issue.

She served as coordinator of the Atlantic Union Conference Music Development Curriculum Committee in 2005 and, since 1993, has made numerous presentations in conventions, seminars, forums, and workshops in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, Michigan, Tennessee, and New England on teaching, leadership, congregational singing, and other topics.

While living in So. Lancaster, Swinyar proposed that a music ministries director be established by the Southern New England Conference and then was chosen to fill the volunteer position once it had been created. As part of her work in that area, she published The Singing Church, available at:


Sources: Emails, 11 November 2008; 6 June 2010, 1 May 2012; Biographical Information Sheet and Resume provided by the subject, 25 November 2008.