As the valedictorian of her 1973 graduating class, Denise Blickenstaff was looking forward to attending Brigham Young University on scholarship when Jeff Frost first asked her on a date.
Jeff had been prompted by Denise’s younger brother, Kurt, who was working for the Frost family, moving field sprinklers. Kurt kept saying, “You’ve got to ask my sister out!” until Jeff finally gave in.
It wasn’t love at first sight. Denise was from Blanding; Jeff was from the rival town of Monticello. Denise was headed to BYU; Jeff was attending the rival school, University of Utah. Still, they dated over the next several years and after resolving stereotypes, they married in December of 1975.
Denise had every intention of finishing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, even doing her student teaching at Bluff Elementary where she and Jeff first lived and where he worked as a farmer.
However, she became so ill with her first pregnancy that she had to drop out of school.
It took a while, but she eventually returned to college, taking independent study courses and classes at the San Juan Campus in Blanding.
She says that Dr. Kay Shumway was a great support to her during that time. Her husband was also very supportive throughout her quest. He took over the household when she got to her last semester and had to return to the BYU campus.
He tended their four young children at home while she traveled to Provo and completed her degree, earning her teaching certificate.
Despite keeping her certificate current for many years, Denise never taught in the public school system. However, she has continuously used her talents to serve the communities she has lived in, as well as teaching piano and guitar lessons to many students over the years, even as she has raised six children (all MHS Buckaroos).
“She is a fantastic teacher,” Holly Fellmeth says, “I mean REALLY fantastic! I’ve had her as a teacher in church as well as for piano, and I just love her. Everyone does.”
Denise expresses gratitude to the piano teachers of her youth, Renee Pincock, Elaine Black, and Mabel June Palmer. She has extended their teachings and added her own, helping to produce many gifted musicians.
She regularly takes her students to two different evaluation programs: AIM (Achievement in Music) and the National Guild of Piano Teachers Adjudication Program.
Denise returned to BYU once again, to earn her Kodali Music Educators Certification. She has also studied many years with Marilyn Bidinger, a concert pianist and former member of the New York Metropolitan School of Music.
Still, of all her achievements, Denise considers her family her crowning glory. It could be said that all her music instruction has helped her maintain harmony in her home – and what greater accomplishment is there than that?