School & School System Where You Work
Swift Creek Middle School, Johnston County Schools
Number of Years Teaching
What do you love most about teaching music?
Music is for everyone. No matter how you look or who you are music is a part of your life. Music has the power to bring everyone together. I believe every student who wants to learn to play an instrument can be taught. Many students have found “their place” or “their thing” by participating in a music class. I love seeing students get their instrument for the first time and not knowing a single thing about how to put it together or play a note. Then in the end growing to find the mistakes they make while playing and be able to fix them on their own. In the end, students learn how to make music on their own. When they come into the classroom, put everything else that is going on aside and play their instrument.
Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?
My high school band director inspired me to become a band director. This was not my first choice for a career as I did not think I could handle it, but he saw something in me that I did not see in myself. He pushed me to major in Music Education in college and has been a mentor for me ever since. I am grateful he gave me opportunities like being a Teacher Assistant for the 6th-grade band and serving as drum major. These experiences helped me prepare for college and the future.
What did you need the most when you started teaching?
A mentor… I have had the opportunity to work alongside several veteran teachers who have provided me with great advice. They have taken the time to pour into me as a teacher which has helped me improve.
Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?
I have found that some do not believe band/music is an important part of a child’s education. I continually find myself reminding them that every student needs a place and it is not always in sports or in the core classes. Music may be their outlet for expressing themselves. For example, I teach a student who has ADHD and struggles to focus in his core classes, but when he gets to band he knows he is going to be able to play and learn because this is his thing. Several of his core teachers have asked how he is able to focus in my class. I respond by reminding them that band is a place where he can be himself and succeed.
How do you advocate for your program?
I advocate for my program by giving them all the opportunities they can to perform. I make sure the school, administration and community hear them perform. The pep band performs at every home football game. We perform the National Anthem at home basketball games. We also perform for community events such as professional soccer games so the band is seen and heard by all.
What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?
Reflect! Always reflect on your teaching. This is something we do naturally as we practice and perfect our music, but we have to do the same thing with our teaching. The same teaching style is not going to work for every class and every student. Take the time to alter the lesson where needed for your students understanding. Then if you do not understand something when you are reflecting ask questions. Ask a veteran music teacher around you for advice and take it to heart.
How do you build relationships with students and parents?
To build relationships with students I get to know them and call them by name. I know what they like such as students that play sports and use that as examples when I am teaching. When the students see you care they will begin to care about music. I make sure to be honest with them and tell them how they are doing on their instrument, but I continually support them as their biggest cheerleader. I make sure my classroom is a safe space for them to come, make mistakes and learn from them.
To build a relationship with parents I make sure they are constantly in the know about what is going on in the classroom. I make sure to reach out to parents about how their students are doing individually and give them assistance on how to help their students succeed.