“Music is far more than song. It breaks down barriers, brings people together, and empowers us to be the best we can possibly be,” says Laura Linsley, chorus teacher at North Buncombe Middle School.
Ms. Linsley has always loved music; she learned to play the piano at age 4, and her mother sang in a choir. She says this career path became apparent pretty early in her life. Teaching isn’t easy, she says, but it’s a privilege to be a part of the lives of her 150 students. “Each one of them will play a very important part in the future of our world. If only one moment of my time with each of those students makes a positive impact on their lives, then I have succeeded in something far bigger than myself.”
Today, students practiced for an upcoming concert and started learning a traditional South African song. Ms. Linsley sang the melody and harmony, and her students had to pay close attention- they are learning this song by ear, not with printed music. After graduating from Wingate University, Ms. Linsley toured with a concert choir, and their travels brought her to South Africa.
“Taking a trip to another country was one of the best experiences,” says Linsley. “It showed me how music truly is a universal language.”
This unique cultural experience helped shape her classroom lessons.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to know what is beyond their own backyard. Opportunities such as those are what give people the capacity to understand each other. That is the most important thing educators can teach the younger generation,” she says.
Ms. Linsley believes the arts are essential for any human being. In her class, music is a creative outlet.
“Music fosters creativity which is crucial for a student’s success,” says Linsley. “Each day my students look beyond a textbook; they fuse basic skills with critical thinking to create something beautiful that can be shared with the world. Music requires students to work together to produce a final product. So much of what we do as adults requires the exact same thing."
One of Ms. Linsley’s students, 8th grader Emma Brown, says she loves chorus because she finds music relaxing. She says her experience in chorus has made her a better singer and better person.
“Ms. Linsley makes a connection with every student in the class and never fails to make the class laugh! She is more than just a teacher, but a friend! More than once she has been there for me if I needed to talk about something other than chorus,” says Emma.
Ms. Linsley explains music builds confidence in her students. This boost helps them successfully tackle other challenges in their lives.
“I believe that every student should be given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. My job as an educator is to help students realize what they are capable of and supply them with the tools to attain it. Students need our help to see the possibilities that lie ahead of them as well as our guidance in obtaining the skills necessary to be successful. A teacher should create an environment in which they are a facilitator of learning and their students feel safe to try,” says Linsley.