Senior music education major, Abigail Kerr, was in the middle of teaching a music lesson to her elementary-aged class, when a student turned to her and said, “Miss Kerr, last night my mom lost 37 teeth.”
She could not help but giggle to herself at the hilarity and irrelevance of this comment.
“I just find joy in (student teaching) every single day, just like the crazy things that the students will say,” Kerr said. “You literally never know what’s going to come out of someone’s mouth.”
Kerr is currently in the process of completing her student teaching and hopes to become an elementary music teacher after graduating this spring.
Her time at Taylor, more specifically within the music department, has been extremely positive and life-giving to her.
She has been actively involved with several musical activities such as chorale and “Sounds,” participating as member and leading as a chorale officer.
The music department at Taylor is one of the smallest departments in the university, which for Kerr, has been a blessing in many ways, especially relationally.
“It’s just a really tight-knit group of people,” Kerr said. “They’re my family, which is cheesy, but it’s true.”
Kerr explained that many of her closest friends have been made through participation in music classes and music-related activities at Taylor.
Not only are the students within the department close with each other, but that closeness extends to their music professors.
“I just feel like the professors are more than my professors,” Kerr said. “They kind of just feel like my friends. I feel comfortable talking to them, they know when I’m having a bad day, they give me great advice and are also really good at what they do.”
Kerr mentioned two particular professors who have had a big impact on her life: Assistant Professor of Music Loralee Songer and Assistant Professor of Music Choral Ensembles Reed Spencer.
Songer pushes Kerr to be her best during their one-on-one voice lesson sessions. She feels as though Songer understands and knows her very well which allows her to know what Kerr’s limitations are.
Spencer came to Taylor during Kerr’s sophomore year and greatly impacted the way she views music and the chorale.
“He’s a great listener and I know just that he really cares,” Kerr said. “He just is a really overall great person and shows that to not just me, but the whole chorale and whole music department.”
Although Kerr has a lot of love and appreciation for her professors and for her major, the work can be demanding and challenging at times.
Music department majors must complete a lot of practice on top of other homework students may have. In addition, Kerr’s chorale participation filled up her schedule even more.
“Being a music ed major basically means I’m double majoring,” Kerr said. “So, I’m majoring in music and in education which are both very demanding majors.”
Kerr has taken a full load of classes every semester and has even taken as many as 22 credits in a single semester. The demanding nature of her major has left her exhausted and overwhelmed at times, but overall, Kerr feels blessed and challenged by her music department family.
The music department has been pivotal for Kerr and her future career as a music teacher, but music has been a part of her life for much longer than just her time at Taylor.
Growing up in Augusta, Illinois, Kerr would constantly record herself singing. She then joined her school’s band in 5th grade and in 6th grade, the choir.
In high school, she participated in several musical activities including theater and choir and even played Cinderella in her school’s musical production of “Cinderella.”
Music has simply always played a major role in her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Even if I don’t want to express my emotions, I can do that through music,” Kerr said. “I think music can be used in a healing way; it’s just super powerful.”
As a student music teacher at Eaton Elementary and Albany Elementary, Kerr has been able to put everything she has learned into practice.
The transition from being a full-time student to becoming a full-time student teacher has been challenging, but rewarding for her.
“In our education classes we talk a lot about relationships with our students and how the teacher-student relationship is super important,” Kerr said. “I see that every single day, just how important that teacher-student relationship is. Who cares if you don’t get through the content for the day, as long as your students know that you’re there and that you love them and care for them.”
She hopes that relationships will continue to form and grow throughout her teaching.
Kerr recently finished student teaching for two different elementary schools totaling around 600 students. She taught seven classes each day and was encouraged by her teachers to do a lot of work on her own.
She will now begin teaching middle and high school music at Eastbrook middle and high school, where she hopes to establish more relationships and spread more love and appreciation for music while teaching it.
“Singing and dancing with (my students) all day long has been so much fun,” Kerr said. “Obviously I’m exhausted when I get home, but by the morning, I’m ready to do it all again.”