One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is music. Whether it is playing an instrument, singing, or becoming a life-long listener who loves a variety of types of music, the pleasure and personal enrichment music brings to us is priceless.
That is why music teachers are so important and why they deserve our support and our thanks. Let’s meet one of those teachers, Daniela Chirigotis, who teaches string instruments in the Fairhaven Public Schools.
Q: What is a typical day like?
A: Every morning I start teaching at one of the three elementary schools in Fairhaven [Rogers, Wood or East Fairhaven Elementary School]. We start with Morning Orchestra and then group lessons. At 10:30 I head over to Hastings Middle School for 8th grade Orchestra and then in the afternoon we have more orchestra rehearsals for each grade level. Most days I stay after school to practice individual pieces with students, give lessons and hold small ensemble rehearsals.
Q: What’s your proudest accomplishment as a teacher?
A: I am extremely proud of my students. From concerts to participation in SEMSBA and District Music festivals, to students continuing to play their instrument in college, I am very proud of all of them.
I am also proud of the Fairhaven Strings program itself. The program keeps growing; more and more students have a love and appreciation for a stringed instrument, and the desire to learn and be a part of our orchestra every year. Knowing the positive influence music has on a young person, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me feel.
Q: What kinds of music do you like?
A: I like almost all types of music under the sun. At any given time, I could be listening to Beethoven symphonies, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Sarah Chang’s “Sweet Sorrow” album or I could be jogging on the treadmill listening to Lady Gaga, Adele or Beyonce.
I love jazz artists like Chris Botti and Diana Krall, and what woman doesn’t enjoy Michael Buble? Broadway musicals are great (Les Miserables is my favorite; I’ve seen it now 3 times and I’ve seen Wicked twice). Sarah Chang is my favorite female violinist and David Garrett is my favorite male violinist, after Itzhak Perlman, of course.
Q: What do you think makes a good music teacher?
A: I’ve been lucky to have great teachers and conductors in my life – Marilyn Melanson, Toby Monte, Ann Danis and Dr. Alberto Jaffe.
I believe that a music teacher needs to have an equal love for children and learning as well as for music. A good music teacher should have a lot of patience for children to progress on their instruments. The teacher should be flexible and creative in finding new and better ways to improve their teaching depending on what group of students is in front of them.
A belief that every child can learn and be successful in music as well as the passion for the subject matter are all essential characteristics of a good music teacher – the ability to have children love music, perform it to the best of their ability and to appreciate it in varying forms also.
A good music teacher has the ability to bring out the best in you, and to use music as a platform for excellence in all aspects of your life.
Q: Why is it important for kids to have music in school?
A: It is so important for kids to have music in school for so many reasons. Where do I begin?
From higher SAT and MCAS scores to improved social skills to higher self esteem to creative thinking, the positive effects of music education are endless. Students who have early musical training develop areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. Students of instruments learn to continuously work hard to improve their work.
Music plays a large role in keeping students engaged in school. There are so many academic and personal enrichment reasons to keep music programs strong in our schools.
Annual “String Explosion” Concert: April 4th, 2012 at Hastings Middle School at 7pm, Fairhaven. A “mega” concert that features all of the Strings students from grades 4-12.
Providence Bruins: The string students will perform on April 15th at the Providence Bruins last regular season home game.
Memorial Day Parade in Fairhaven: Students march with their violins and violas and stop several times during the route to perform. The cellists hold school banners and American flags.