Ryan Smith


Ryan Smith

School & School System Where You Work

East Hoke Middle School, Hoke County High School

Number of Years Teaching


Teaching Area(s)


Grade Level

Middle School & High School

What do you love most about teaching music?

Although there are several things that I enjoy, the thing about teaching music that I love most is the unique relationships that I get to build with my students. As a Band Director, we spend a lot of time with our students. From after school rehearsals, field trips, special performances, etc. we spend a lot of time with our students. This allows us a very unique opportunity to have a huge impact on the lives of these young people. Although the performances, field trips, and superior ratings are great, nothing beats the relationships that I’m able to form with my students.

Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?

I wouldn’t say that there was a single individual responsible for me choosing to become a music educator. I decided at a young age that this is what I wanted to do! My parents were certainly an inspiration providing me with the support needed to keep pursuing my dreams. Throughout my musical journey I’ve had several Music Educators inspire me to get better day in and day out. Guys such as Charles Conner (High School Director), Roosevelt Pratt (Mentor during Student Teaching), Jorim Reid (College Director), James Richardson and DeVon Pickett have all inspired me to be better in one way or another.

What did you need the most when you started teaching?

Patience. In the beginning, I was very eager to get a product out of my students. I quickly learned that creating, molding, and shaping young students into musicians takes time.

Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?

I would say that the biggest challenge for me to overcome is teaching Beginning Band. To start from day 1 and build a student from the ground up is very difficult. In the first year of my career, I was afraid to let the students play their instruments. Those first sounds are rough! I was afraid that an administrator, colleague, or non band students would walk by and hear the band and form negative opinions of me and the band. I quickly realized that in order to be successful you have to embrace those first sounds and understand that it is all a part of the process.

How do you advocate for your program?

In my opinion, the best way to advocate for any program is through your performance. This is certainly my approach when it comes to advocating for my group. Taking pride in our performance inside and outside the band room is essential. What I mean by that is encouraging my students to be model students for the rest of the school. Day one of school, I tell my students that our goal is to “make our school a better place with us as the face”. That means we need to be respectful, disciplined, studious, and striving for excellence daily. Setting the example for others to follow is essential. I also believe that excellence in our musical performance is essential. In order for me to advocate for my students, my students must first be the standard in which everyone else can look up to.

What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?

I would encourage beginning teachers to be patient. Be patient not only with their students but with themselves. What we do is very difficult. Rome was not built in a day. We all have goals, dreams, and aspirations. While it’s awesome to strive for the top, you must understand that it is process. It will take time, neither you nor your students will be perfect. Take it one day and a time and just try to get a little better day by day and everything will fall into place.

How do you build relationships with students and parents?

Of course I do all the normal things such as parent meetings, field trips, band banquets, etc. Above all else, I show the students that I care about them (the individual) first and the band second. I believe that the best way to build relationships with students and parents is to show them that you care about them. If a student feels as if you don’t care about them, they will not be a vessel in which you can pour into. Parents will not support you if they feel as if you don’t care about their children. This is why, I always put the people first. Without my students and their parents, I could not do what I love to do.