Surrounded in her classroom by more than 200 musical instruments from around the world, teacher Martha Anderson of The Lexington School smiles when asked a question to which the answer seems obvious.
“Oh yes,” she says. “My class is fun and challenging all the time.”
That is endorsement enough for an accomplished organist and singer who has taught music to children for 39 years – the past 37 at TLS. She works with pre-school through third graders, offering a multi-sensory approach that incorporates puppetry, story, creative movement, song and, of course, those 200 instruments.
Each day children can play with tone blocks, maracas and boom whackers. That’s in addition to drums, cymbals and all manner of xylophones.
Students not only learn about tone and pitch, they compose their own songs, perform for the whole school and transform the classroom into a “sensory explosion of child art, costume, dance, singing and instruments,”
as one TLS colleague said.
That’s why kids race to Mrs. Anderson’s classroom – they have so much fun there. Of course, much more is at stake. When asked the importance of music education in schools, she answers quickly.
“It teaches kids beauty,” she says. “I’m a seeker of beauty and they find beauty in music.”
That’s a lesson that lasts a lifetime and part of the goal: to create lifelong
learners, like Anderson herself.
An organist at Second Presbyterian Church, 22-year member of the Lexington Chamber Chorale and composer, Anderson constantly hones her craft, saying, “It’s important for teachers to work on something outside the classroom.”
In 2007, she traveled to Belize and Guatemala, learning about the music and culture of the indigenous population. Ten years ago, she
introduced an innovative feature to her class – Karate Recorder — where students work their way up a yarn belt based on the number of songs they learn on the recorder. The highest
level, of course, is black belt.
“Students get a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” Anderson says. “It’s self-motivating, they go at their own pace, practice on their own and help each other out.”
All in the service of music and education – Anderson’s passions.
“I love my craft and music, but I love my students more,” she says. “They make the craft come alive.”
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