Few subjects in school stimulate both hemispheres of the brain like music does, just as few teachers are afforded the opportunity to motivate, inspire and engage every student in a school like General Music teacher Jane Emry Becker at Olmsted Elementary School in Urbandale.
Now in her 23rd year of teaching, all of which have been at Olmsted, Emry Becker not only shares her knowledge and passion for music with the approximately 450 students at Olmsted through fifth grade, but she also teaches fourth and fifth grade students at nearby Karen Acres Elementary School.
“One of the things I love about this job is getting to know every student that walks through the door. I get to see them develop over the years,” she says.
Just as rewarding, Emry Becker says, are the lifelong lessons that she teaches her students, including the merits of tunefulness, beautifulness and artfulness. Her goal is not to develop musical prodigies, but to impart an appreciation for music and creativity in hopes of sparking something within every child that is not necessarily learned from a textbook.
“Music is a place where everybody can succeed,” she says. “It’s a creative art. It gives students the freedom to explore their own ideas and to involve them in decision-making. It also teaches them how to work with one another to make something beautiful. Being musical makes them better human beings.”
In December, Emry Becker will begin organizing and rehearsing for chorus concerts at both schools to be held in February. She says that the concerts feature singing and dancing and that every student has a featured role.
“It gives them a well-rounded experience and helps to develop their confidence,” she says. “It’s a great way to boost their abilities and they are so proud of their work.”