A former teaching artist with ETM, Jessica Parr is now employed as a full-time music teacher at P.S. 76 in the Bronx. She shares a story about one of her students:
“Last year, I had a shy little boy named Justin in one of my music classes who signed up for a special keyboard class after school. He was at every single practice and always came on time and prepared. In music class he would very rarely speak out but always knew the answers when I called on him.
“After the winter concert Justin’s mother came to me and told me how much her son loved music. She told me he was never this excited about anything before in the past. I didn’t know that it meant that much to him because he was always so quiet. She told me that he talked about music class and keyboard class all the time and told his mom that it made him feel really good when he was there. When she told me this I got little chills of happiness.
“When it came time to cast roles for the school musical, I wanted Justin to take part in it but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to do it because he was so shy. However, I cast him as a speaking role with a good amount of lines.
“For several months, I worked with him on projection and overcoming his shyness. That night he got up on stage in front of an auditorium full of people and spoke all of his lines perfectly! I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so proud of him.
“His mother came up to me afterwards to tell me how much confidence music had given him throughout the year. She begged me to put him back in keyboards when he returned the following year because it was helping so much with his self-confidence. Of course I did, and he is now a clarinet player in our P.S. 76 band!”