Case Examine: Rural Realities

Music educators in rural settings face a novel set of challenges.

Relying on the neighborhood, these can vary from lack of funds and help for this system, restricted efficiency alternatives and restricted publicity to high quality venues. Nevertheless, with the best mindset and methods, the rewards of educating in a rural faculty may be immeasurable.


I’m a product of LaRue County Colleges, a small rural program in Kentucky, and I’m in my tenth yr of educating at Edgewood Metropolis Colleges, a really rural system in Ohio, so I’ve perception into rural schooling as a scholar and a trainer. I’ve discovered that constructing a profitable program begins and ends with relationship-building. Rural communities are usually very happy with their heritage. Many households are multigenerational and have been linked to the identical land for generations. It will be important for educators to rapidly be taught what’s essential to the neighborhood and align packages with these neighborhood values.

Edgewood Middle School in OhioPopulations in rural communities are usually steady. A lot of your colleagues and your college students have years of neighborhood and institutional data. Many college students have had the identical educator group since kindergarten. They are going to be interested by you, and the extra snug you might be answering their questions, the extra profitable you can be. I begin yearly at Edgewood Center College with a pre-test about ME!

I would like my college students to know me and perceive my background for 2 causes. First, I would like them to know that despite the fact that I’m not from the identical space, our backgrounds are related. I can often discover one thing — even when it’s small — to have the ability to relate to every scholar within the room. It might be footage of ATV driving or my cats.

Second, I like to indicate my college students a few of my experiences with music. As an alternative of speaking about it, I present them. I escape footage from my choir journeys after I was in highschool and faculty, a few of which have been worldwide performances. I play clips from my senior recital, my neighborhood theater roles and present performances of previous choirs. With this straightforward first-day exercise, I construct belief with my college students and show that I do know what I’m doing with out really telling them that I do know what I’m doing.

Regarding the pursuits of your college students is important. Once more, this doesn’t must be huge and flashy. Get to know your viewers. Discuss to your college students about their pursuits outdoors of music.

For instance, 4H may be very widespread in my space. Within the spring, I discuss with my college students about how they’re getting their child animals prepared for the honest. The Butler County Truthful is the Tremendous Bowl of summer time right here. My college students work extremely exhausting elevating and making ready their animals. Whereas I’ve by no means proven livestock, my college students mild up speaking about their pigs, calves and goats, and I take pleasure in studying about them.

Going and cheering on my college students at a present takes one afternoon of my summer time, but it surely makes a lifetime of recollections for them and deepens the connection I’ve with their dad and mom. Placing your phrases into motion impresses your college students and their dad and mom.

Attending to know your viewers additionally helps in tailoring your educating methods. I as soon as had a younger man in my class who had little curiosity normally music, and he simply didn’t see the place it had real-life implications. I knew he was an avid duck hunter, so I associated the ideas of rhythm, pitch matching and timbre by evaluating them to the completely different calls utilized in duck searching.


Aside from a fortunate few, most music educators are continuously looking for sources. This challenge may be particularly acute in rural colleges the place tax bases are usually decrease, so fee-based packages should be used very selectively.

Nevertheless, there are methods to beat a scarcity of sources. For instance, most rural college students wouldn’t have prepared entry to attend an opera, musical or symphony orchestra. Nevertheless, college students may be launched to many high quality performances on-line. Wonderful digital studying alternatives have proliferated for the reason that begin of the pandemic.

Educators may search out grant alternatives for all the things from Orff devices to classroom gear to visitor performers. Creativity is important. Additionally it is useful to collaborate with the opposite nice arts academics in your faculty and to coordinate your packages as a lot as potential. If there are different music educators in your district, search their steering.

Fb teams of like-minded professionals may be an effective way to share concepts and find out about new alternatives, however like all social media, watch out for the inherent drama of some teams.

One other invaluable useful resource is your father or mother booster group. Our boosters have supplied all the things from monetary help to advocacy with decision-makers. Additionally, a few of your college students’ dad and mom may go at organizations that provide help to instructional packages.


Discovering alternatives for college kids to attain recognition and validation is crucial and pays infinite advantages. Most rural colleges have at the least one sport — be it wrestling, basketball or soccer — that could be a supply of satisfaction for college kids and the neighborhood. Youngsters wish to be part of these profitable groups. Crafted correctly, your music program can have the identical attraction and profitable status.

How? Set clear expectations on Day One and set them excessive. Some educators argue that trophies aren’t essential and that they’ve college students enter competitions only for the non-public satisfaction of doing a great job. Which will work in some locales, however I firmly consider that alternatives for formal recognition — and the {hardware} that comes with it — is essential and motivating to the vast majority of rural college students. It additionally builds faculty satisfaction, brings honor to the college system and strengthens buy-in from dad and mom and directors.

At all times seek for venues and participation alternatives to your packages. My eighth graders have carried out at Kings Island amusement park for critique and rankings from professionals.  Our just lately developed Overtures Present Choir competed at a number of venues previous to the pandemic. Previously yr, we have now used digital competitions and critiques to measure our progress.

If touring is just not an choice, look to professionals you admire. Arrange Zoom conferences or ship movies of performances to associates and colleagues within the music discipline. Former academics are an amazing supply for genuine suggestions to your college students. Whereas this may occasionally not produce trophies, it offers the scholars satisfaction in what they’re undertaking in your class.

Along with aggressive recognition, it’s important to be your program’s ambassador to the neighborhood. Discover out which occasions are essential to the neighborhood and have your college students take part. Whether or not it’s having a float in a neighborhood parade or acting at a neighborhood Christmas competition, any occasion that brings your college students in touch with the neighborhood is essential.

Changing into your program’s major marketer is one other important function for the agricultural educator. It’s merely a reality that almost all dad and mom, co  mmunity members and typically faculty board members don’t know what you educate or what college students acquire out of your program. Be sure that your program aligns with different topics taught and examined at your faculty. Collaborate with academics in these topics and ensure they perceive the diploma of help and reinforcement your class supplies.

Any time your program or any of your college students obtain recognition, use no matter means obtainable to advertise these accomplishments. Completely different colleges have completely different strategies, however you need to notify your directors and your district public relations government. Use social media, father or mother newsletters or another media obtainable to unfold the information. I vividly bear in mind my grandmother’s fridge lined in newspaper clippings of her grandchildren’s accomplishments. These are little issues, however they construct these invaluable relationships if you want booster help or funding.

Edgewood Middle School choir members cheering on team members at wrestling match Recruitment

Whether or not beginning a brand new program or constructing on an current one, recruitment is important. Your current children are your finest useful resource for recruiting their fellow college students. Success breeds success. As your college students obtain recognition and satisfaction in this system grows, others wish to turn out to be part of the enjoyable.

In rural colleges, a number of of your most gifted prospects are doubtless athletes. It’s essential to develop cooperative relationships with athletic coaches to make sure that apply schedules and competitions may be coordinated. Mutual help may be achieved. Earlier than COVID, our whole present choir turned out to help the wrestlers in our teams at a significant match. Coaches respect singers who know the way to undertaking, cheering on their athletes.

Along with constructing scholar outreach, I labored with my counterparts at Edgewood Excessive College — Libby Wolf and Nick Fields — to create recruiting movies and posters on social media to succeed in potential college students. After watching some YouTube tutorials, we have been off and working making our personal movies. It value us nothing however a bit of time, and we ended up with high-quality recruitment media that introduced satisfaction to our returning members and intrigue to those that have been new.

Chill out

My final tip is to easily loosen up. Youngsters are children, no matter their background. Hopefully, you grew to become a music trainer since you love music and wish to share that love with college students. On the finish of the day, that should be your major focus and aim. Don’t be afraid to indicate your college students that you simply love music. Have enjoyable with it and with them. It doesn’t matter the place your college students come from, the extra real you might be, the extra buy-in you’re going to get.


Carmen Fields with alpaca named after her

As music educators, we have now the flexibility to make a reference to our college students that few academics can take pleasure in. We are inclined to have college students in our program for a number of consecutive years and actually get to know them. In rural communities, you can also make connections all through households, and infrequently educate siblings and cousins of your authentic college students. These households turn out to be your finest cheering part and your individual prolonged household. I will likely be ceaselessly indebted to the band dad who helps with our plumbing points and the previous choir household, whose children have all graduated, that provides to babysit my 3-month-old when I’ve a weekend rehearsal.

It’s extremely rewarding to see my college students develop up, search additional schooling, be a part of the native workforce and start households of their very own. However maybe my highest honor was when a scholar’s household requested if they might identify and register their new child alpaca as ANF’s Carmen Fields. It simply doesn’t get higher than that!

Embrace your rural realities — the alternatives and rewards are limitless.