Directors and Staff

The Heritage Youth Choirs at American Heritage School is led by a staff of professional musicians and educators who work to provide a challenging but uplifting environment where choir members can refine their musical talents and grow spiritually. All our directors hold degrees in Music Education and have other music-related endorsements for teaching.

Rob Swenson, Youth Chorus Director/Program Director

Rob Swenson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Brigham Young University and Level III OAKE-endorsed Kodály certification. He has taught choir at American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork, Utah; at Timpanogos Academy in Lindon, Utah; and at Liahona High School in Liahona, Tonga, where he also served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2008, he joined the faculty at American Heritage School, where he currently teaches AP Music Theory and directs middle and high school choirs. From 2004-2007, he served as an assistant director with the Utah Valley Children’s Choir, leaving in 2007 to found the American Heritage Youth Chorus. Under his direction, this faith-centered choral program for children and youth has grown to include over 200 members who perform free, inspirational programs for audiences throughout the United States. Rob received the 2016 Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Christmas Carol Commission for his “Christmas Hosanna.” In Fall 2016, his original composition, “Go Forth From This House,” was recognized as a second-place winner and was performed at the state conference of the Utah ACDA. Rob resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife, Kristy, and their four children.

Matt Thornton, Youth Chorus Assistant Director

Matt Thornton graduated from Utah State University with a bachelors degree in music education. He also holds a masters degree in music education from BYU. As an undergraduate, Matt served as the Music Vice President of the Logan Latter-day Saint Institute as well as the Dance President. He was also president of the New Horizons Institute Choir. While in Cache Valley, he worked with the Cache Children’s Choir and taught in their summer music camp. He has also worked as a music and dance specialist for Opera by Children. Matt has been trained in Orff, is Kodály certified and is currently an instructor at the BYU InterMuse Academy. He is the fine arts department head at American Fork Jr. High where he has taught choir for eight years.

Deborah Otteson, Children’s Choir Director

Deborah was born in Oakridge, Tenn. She is the eldest of nine living children. She graduated from Ricks and BYU (Provo) with a degree in Secondary Music Education. After serving a mission in the Oregon Portland Mission, she started teaching music in her hometown of Shelley, Idaho and spent her summers in Hartford, Conn. earning a degree in the Kodály Method at the KMTI. During her time in Idaho, she was also involved in many musicals, operas and singing groups. She is excited to be at American Heritage School and to be teaching music to young children.

September Howard, Junior Choir Director

September Howard was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia. She graduated from BYU with a degree in Music Education—Choral Emphasis. She is in her second year of teaching middle and elementary music at American Heritage School, where she serves as the Music Department Chair. She is the proud mother of two adorable children, Grayson and Dawson.

Erin Bailey, Treble Choir Director

Erin Bailey is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Brigham Young University. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Choral Music Education from Brigham Young University. Erin recently received her Ph.D. in Music Education from The University of Utah, where she was honored to be the Leroy J. Robertson Foundation Endowment Award Recipient. She was fortunate to attend the Summer Voice Institute and is an NCVS-trained vocologist. Her research interests include music and mental health, music teacher education, vocology, general music education, and choral conducting. Erin taught for over a decade in middle and high schools in Utah and California. In addition, she served as director and co-founder of Cantemus Youth Chorus and Encore Community Choir in California. Erin was a member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Her favorite people are her four fantastic children, Seth, Peter, Jacob, and Emma, and her amazing husband, Dave!

Neil Harmon, Accompanist

Acclaimed as “one of the finest products of the American organ school,” [La Nuova Venezia] Dr. Harmon has performed in Europe, South America, and the United States. Performance venues have included Longwood Gardens, The Salt Lake Tabernacle, New York City’s Carnegie Hall, and the Church of Saint Nicolo dei Mendicoli in Venice, Italy. He serves as a Guest Organist at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, a service he has rendered since 1991.

LauraLyn Eberting, Accompanist

LauraLyn Eberting loves music and is delighted to be a part of American Heritage School’s Children’s Choir. She grew up singing and making music with her family and then went to law school and became an attorney. While in college she taught piano lessons, played the violin with a BYU orchestra, sang with the Mormon Youth Chorus, and performed as an entertainer in Lagoon’s Music USA.

Michelle Jorgensen, Accompanist

Michelle Jorgensen has loved, performed and taught music from an early age. She studied piano and voice through graduate school, and taught lessons to help support her family while attending dental school.  She has four children, and they have all attended American Heritage. The family has been patrons of the school since 2005 and loves the school and music programs.

Laurie Patterson, Choir Apparel Coordinator

Laurie has taught in many different capacities for over 30 years, including owning a preschool, working for Alpine school district, and substitute teacher for AHS. She is now teaching students around the globe with “Outschool”, emotional health classes, young reading classes, and cooking classes (her favorite). She has been a singer since she was little and has dabbled in theatre directing.  Her and her husband Jaye are originally from Seattle, Washington.  They have 5 married children and 13 grandchildren all in Utah!  Laurie has been with AHS youth chorus since the beginning.  She just can’t seem to retire!

Becca Thornton, Treble Choir Secretary

Becca Thornton was born in London England and grew up in Cache Valley, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, specializing in music and history. She has worked for Utah Festival Opera’s acclaimed “Opera by Children” program, assists in running an annual children’s art competition, and published a book in 2020 highlighting the lives of the fathers of the latter-day prophets. She and her husband, Matt, have 5 children and enjoy working as a family with the Heritage Youth Choirs.