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Alumni Spotlight - Emily Roman

woman playing a violin

This month we caught up with Emily Roman, an ETM alum, to learn about her journey as a music educator, her experiences with ETM, and what she loves most about teaching music!

Tell us your story. Where are you from? What is your educational background and how did you come to ETM?

I began piano lessons when I was five and loved it. I couldn’t wait to sign up for orchestra in elementary school. My orchestra teacher was a hilarious, fun person and made learning exciting. He put his heart and soul into teaching orchestra. My future music teachers not only enriched my life with music but took an interest in who I was as a person. They were not just teachers but guides and mentors who inspired and encouraged me and led me eventually to pursue my career in music education.

I went to school for music education where I studied instrumental and general music education, then moved to NYC and found Education Through Music. I started teaching general music and choir at P.S. 76 in the Bronx and then moved to my current school P.S. 169 where I teach general music and orchestra.

What is your current position? What do you love most about teaching music?

I have been at my current school for eight years and teach every student in the school building. I have had the joy of seeing students grow from Pre K musicians learning the most fundamental and basic parts of music to 5th graders able to deeply express themselves through singing, reading more challenging notation, performing on their instrument, working their own beats and lyrics into structured songs, and more. Seeing their journey as musicians and as people is incredibly rewarding. It is beautiful to see how music has shaped my school’s culture, bringing everyone together several times a year for joyous singing and playing instruments at concerts and graduations. The younger students see the older students involved in orchestra and can’t wait to join when they are old enough. Musical performances are given to any special guest at our school to welcome them. Given the difficulty of the past few years, music in my classroom has been used as a tool to cope with stress and encourage students to express themselves through movement, singing, or playing a drum. I am proud to be part of my students’ journey of healing and self expression and I strongly believe that through music they can change the world.

What skills or experiences did you gain at ETM that you found most useful in your career as a music educator? 

I have been involved with ETM for ten years and have always found an inspiring community of music teachers who are committed to the profession and to enriching their schools and communities with music. The people ETM have invited to lead professional development sessions have had huge effects on my growth as a teacher. They have shared engaging activities to use in the classroom, modeled different teaching strategies, led discussions on anti-racism and culturally responsive teaching and much more. These workshops and the community of teachers have really shaped what my music class has looked like over the years.