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Teacher Spotlight - Emily Roman


Emily grew up in Indiana and started playing the piano at age five. By the age of 9 she was playing in her school’s orchestra. She was a member of her school’s choir, show choir and pit orchestra for theatrical productions. She also studied ballet and jazz piano. Her educational experiences in the arts afforded her the opportunity to attend Ball State University where she studied Music Education.

Emily’s path to becoming a teacher was inspired by many unforgettable music teachers in her life. “My first orchestra teacher, Mr. Schnabel, made our time in orchestra so fun and enjoyable with his energy and humor,” said Emily, “In high school I was an average student, but when I was in my music teacher’s classroom, they were able to inspire confidence in me. They helped me grow in many more ways than just musically.”

Emily joined ETM in 2013 and currently teaches at P.S. 169, Baychester Academy in the Bronx. Under her direction, the Baychester Academy Orchestra has grown to 74 fourth and fifth grade students in combined junior and senior ensembles, as well as a third advanced group for students who play their instruments at a beginning-intermediate level. The full ensemble will be featured in this year’s ETM Festival, held at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on May 21st.

Emily values the importance of her school community and ETM’s impact on her ability to help her students grow. “Being an ETM teacher means having the support of experienced mentors, a community of teachers in similar situations, access to resources and PDs geared to improve our teaching,” she said. “It means having a network of people willing to help advocate for the job you are doing. Your program is not insular. You are able to make connections, and help your students make connections with other musicians in New York City. My administration and other teachers in the building agree on the importance of music in education. When there is a musical event at my school every staff member from janitors, to office staff, to teachers and administration lend a hand.”

Emily strives to keep her students in a positive frame of mind. “I feel the biggest impact I have on my students is modeling how to keep a positive mindset. I help them understand how to normalize mistakes. If you are truly trying and challenging yourself, you are making boatloads of mistakes. We try to not take ourselves so seriously and not to put so much pressure on ourselves so we can truly grow.”