Allan Hancock College Singers Director Ann Lucas will take her final bow after "That's it!," the group's spring concert to be performed May 9 at First United Methodist Church in Santa Maria.
The longtime music instructor will retire after 13 years at the end of the semester.
But “That’s it!” isn’t just about her, Lucas said. It’s about her program and the students who helped build it. The program will include student and community favorites -- from classical to Latin and Motown to gospel -- that have been sung since she was hired.
"Everything we’re singing, except for one song, has been at a previous concert,” Lucas said Wednesday afternoon. “These are the kind of songs that get people saying, ‘What’s that one song that you all did that goes like this?’ And then they go, ‘That’s it!’ We’re doing our favorites, my favorites and the audience favorites. That’s it.”
Lucas, who has a doctorate in musical arts, became a full-time professor at Hancock 2006. She has taught a wide range of courses from music history to choir singing.
She grew up in a musically driven family: Her mother and grandmother played the piano and her father taught her to appreciate music. Lucas, who plays the piano and violin, has three degrees in piano performance, she said.
While growing up in Texas and Louisiana, Lucas said she learned that getting involved with music required no born talent, but rather a work ethic.
“I don’t think it’s any special talent; it is hard work that will take you,” she said.
She instills that strong work ethic in her students, she added, but also teaches them to overcome their phobia of singing and to push themselves to high levels of confidence.
“That’s what teaching is all about -- to get a student to elevate to a different level every day,” Lucas said.
Three of her students, who will perform in "That's it!," shared her influence on them.
Phil Epstein, a 10-year choir member, said Lucas is skilled at getting first-time singers to toss their fears of performing in front of a crowd.
“She gets rid of our fears because there are a lot of fears," he said. "But she gets that fear out of you.”
However, she has high expectations, he added.
“The pole is always higher every day, every semester, every song. She doesn’t do it to hurt you. She does it to say, ‘You can do better.’”
Some of Lucas' students return every year to take part in her choir program.
“A lot of people came back [for the May 9 concert] because they know this is a last-time thing,” Epstein said.
Joyce Anderson, along with her daughter and granddaughter, has been a part of Lucas' program since 2013. She agreed that Lucas is adept at getting others to lose their phobia of singing.
“She pushes us to the greatest we can be,” Anderson said. “She doesn’t take less. She pushes us higher. She brings out the best in us.”
When she found out Lucas was going to retire, Anderson didn’t hesitate in her decision to perform in the final concert.
“It’s why I came back," she said. "When I was told this was her last semester, I wanted to come back.”
Charlene Ricci, a four-year Hancock choir veteran, said Lucas taught her to overcome her setback.
“Where do I start?” Ricci said, while fighting back tears. “I have a learning disability.”
She credited Lucas for helping her overcome her disability through singing.
“I’ve done my best work with her, when it comes to learning," Ricci said. "She’s pushed me to the highest limits to get As in her class. She pushes you, but she’s informative. She's a good educator and she cares about the students. She doesn’t let you give up, at all. She doesn’t want her students to fail.”
Lucas herself can't wait for next month's concert.
“I look forward to all of them, heart and soul," she said. "But this one has a lot of sentimental favorites.”
After retiring, Lucas said she doesn’t plan to return to teaching. She wants to do some traveling, work at the piano more and spend time with her grandchildren.