Loyal and trustworthy, Rev. Janet A. Lee has led an exemplary career in music education and religion. She started out as a music teacher at Berkley Public Schools and as an assistant in music at the Royal Oak First United Methodist Church in Michigan, and later advanced to become the minister of music and arts at Clawson United Methodist Church and the lifestyle and religion editor of the Hillsdale Daily News. Rev. Lee also used her talents to serve as a consultant in church music and arts. Since 2011, she has continued her efforts through her role as a church musician at the Jonesville United Methodist Church. She plays the piano, organ, and clarinet there.
Rev. Lee considers the best part of her career to be seeing her students achieve to the best of their abilities. One student that stands out to her is a young man she began working with when he was four years old. He is now a nationally acclaimed opera singer. Rev. Lee is also proud of her work with handicapped students. She notably taught a deaf boy to sing by putting his hand on the piano to feel the vibrations and then matching his voice to those vibrations, and she helped a blind man memorize his music with braille. Additionally, Rev. Lee helped a talented musician restart his career after a severe stroke by playing the music he composed for him and inspiring him to regain his confidence. When he found out he could compose again, she arranged for the church to give her a grant to pay him to compose an original piece for the choir each month. After a while, he began to learn how to play music with just his left hand. He is now an editor for a music publishing company.
To prepare for her endeavors, Rev. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Michigan in 1953 and became a certified minister of music and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church in 1977. She also joined prominent professional organizations like the Fellowship of United Methodist in Music and Worship Arts, of which she was the first woman president, and the American Guild of Organists.
When Rev. Lee has spare time, she enjoys furthering her relationship with her community. She has been a weekly columnist for Grace Notes since 1988, a member of the Salvation Army advisory board since 1989, the founder and director of the Hillsdale County Senior Center Handbell Choir since 2003, and the founder and director of the Addison Senior Center Chimes Choir since 2004, among other positions.