It’s one thing to teach young students the rudiments of music. It’s another to make them feel it, so that even if they don’t grow up to become musicians, they can appreciate it and understand how it enhances their life.
Debra Augspurger does that … and more.
For 28 years, including 17 at Fairmeadows Elementary School in West Des Moines where she serves as the school’s vocal music teacher, Augspurger has shared her knowledge and infectious joy of music with thousands of students.
“My goal is not only to provide the tools for students to learn about music, but rather to awaken their souls to the intense joy that is music,” she says.
That kind of joy was on display to the public last month when Fairmeadows’ 23rd Street Singers — a large choir of fifth and sixth graders — performed at a local grocery store and downtown Des Moines at the Kaleidoscope Hub. It was also evident at an all-school assembly and evening concert for parents.
“You can practice in the classroom and that can be rewarding, but there is no comparison to performing in front of a crowd as they give that energy back,” says Augspurger. “And at the same time the students learn about teamwork and gain self-confidence.”
Studies have proven that a music education improves a child’s ability to learn other subjects. In some instances, music is truly the saving grace for a child in school.
“Not every class touches the depth of the soul like music can. I love it when you can take a child who struggles in their regular classes but here they have a place to shine,” says Augspurger.
The veteran music teacher says that she appreciates how Fairmeadows affords its students that kind of learning environment.
“It’s a family at Fairmeadows,” she says. “Everybody is working for the good of the whole student. It’s a great atmosphere and I get to be a part of it. I love my job.”
What do you like best about Mrs. Augspurger?
Culley Wright: “She’s fun, she’s caring and she’s funny. She’s a good singer and a good teacher.”
Caleb Moore: “She’s one of the best music teachers. I like learning all the new songs she teaches us.”
Mia Wells: “She’s funny and kooky in her own way and she’s given me the confidence to perform in front of people.”