Spotlight on Rachel, Music Teacher
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a California transplant from central Georgia. I moved out here to get my Master’s in oboe performance at USC, spent about 5 years working with kids in arts nonprofits, and then decided that the best impact I can make upon the world is by directly working with kids. I’m in my first year of teaching and I love it!
In my free time, I play roller derby and knit.
What does music mean to you? How does music make you feel?
Music has always been a means of self-expression for me. I’m a really shy person by nature, and music allowed me to make meaningful connections with people through a common language.
How has music impacted your life?
Music has helped me move cross country twice, has helped me find my voice, makes me feel confident, and allows me to connect with other humans in a way that feels more authentic than small talk.
What’s your “why”? Why do you do what you do?
All of my previous nonprofit work was focused on helping provide access to music for people who may feel uncomfortable in a traditional concert hall or may not be able to afford lessons. In one of the programs I worked with, I watched homeless mothers connect with their children and themselves through music. In another, I helped elementary schoolers experience the joy of playing in their first concert after only four months of music. All of these experiences have taught me that making music is a joyful human experience that can bring people together and provide connection, relief, or just a moment of peace.
What brought you to ETM-LA?
I knew I wanted to become a teacher, but am still working to get my credential. ETM-LA has been a great fit, with incredibly supportive staff and lots of training.
What do you love most about teaching?
I absolutely love working with young people. They have boundless creativity and I enjoy helping shape their lives. Even if none of my students go on to play music beyond elementary school, the things they learned – perseverance, a willingness to try something new, and just the joy of making music – will serve them well in life overall.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
I always want to write the perfect lesson plan, have the perfect plan for behaviors, learn more about the different pedagogy schools so I can have the perfect mixture of methods for learning…but teaching is messy and unpredictable and some days, you just have to keep calm and pretend it was on the lesson plan. I’ve certainly learned a lot about going with the flow and trying to meet what the kids need, not my concept of what they need.
What keeps you motivated?
Small successes. A shy child choosing to participate, an improvement in behavior in a kid, a class of first graders singing in their head voice. The concerts are great, but nothing beats a kid telling you they love music class.
What advice do you have for young musicians?
Being a musician means many things. There are so many options, from teaching to performing to admin work to composing… and all of them are good. As long as you never forget that we’re making music because we love it, you are a successful musician.