Music Teacher Feature: Amanda Patton

Teacher Feature: Amanda Patton
amanda patton teacher monticello
Amanda Patton is a music teacher at Little Mountain Elementary School in Monticello, Minn.
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Classical MPR's Teacher Feature highlights the lives and work of music teachers throughout Minnesota.

Amanda Patton
Music Specialist for K-5 general/classroom music
Little Mountain Elementary
Monticello, Minn.

Who or what inspired you to become a music teacher?

My mom inspired me to become a music teacher. She taught music for 38 years, and I witnessed the love that she had for teaching music. Not one day did she ever come home and complain about her job. I thought to myself, "This is what I am going to do when I grow up."

So from the age of 9, I had a postcard of The College of St. Benedict by my bed, and I made it my goal to attend that college and major in music education. The vocal performance degree, which I decided to add to my studies, was inspired by my vocal professor, Carolyn Finley.

I actually started voice lessons with her my sophomore year in high school and continued with her all throughout college and then some years after. She was a phenomenal teacher and her love of music was instilled in me every time I had a lesson. I knew for sure that music is what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life.

These two women have been my inspiration throughout my journey as a music teacher and I am very fortunate to have them in my life.

Are you pursuing further studies?

Yes — I am also completing my master's in education through the University of Saint Mary's Twin Cities.

What would you say is your primary instrument?

Voice. I also played trumpet from fourth grade all the way through high school.

In what ways do you try to encourage your students to appreciate and participate in music?

I encourage students to get the most out of music. Do you have to be perfect at it? No. You need to try your best. That is what I ask. Music is a beautiful thing.

Not only is it fun to play instruments, dance, and sing, but music teaches so much more: Music enhances brain function. Music teaches teamwork. Music teaches kids to have a better self-esteem. Music strengthens your creativeness. How can you go wrong?

I try, as a teacher, to embrace all kinds of learning — auditory, kinesthetic or visual. This usually will apply to most students, resulting in some form of enjoyment towards the subject of music.

What's one of the most memorable moments you've had while teaching music?

I would have to say that I have had many memorable moments in the classroom, but one of the moments just happened recently.

My first-grade concert was celebrating the children's singer, Raffi, and I compiled a list of songs for the first graders to perform. Kids just don't know about this brilliant man; I had to introduce him to them.

I pitched the idea to my mom, asking her which of her favorite Raffi songs I should add, and the first thing that leaves her mouth is, "Can I play for your concert"? (She retired from teaching three years ago.)

Jokingly I said, "That isn't a Raffi song!" But she wasn't kidding. She misses teaching music and wanted to be a part of a concert. So my mom helped accompany some of the Raffi songs on her guitar for my 150-plus first graders.

It was a delight and honor to have her there and share that moment with me.

If you were to help program a day of music at Classical MPR, what would be a piece of music you'd play in the morning? What piece of music would you play in the evening?

For the morning, I would have to choose Appalachian Spring by Copland:

For the evening, I would choose Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "The Emperor," mvt. 2:

What is it about these pieces that make them a couple of your favorites?

Copland's composing style was unique and quite adventuresome. He really knew how to paint a picture and tell a story with his music. Appalachian Spring is a great example, as it sounds like one is rising for the day and waking up to the most beautiful day ever.

With Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, first of all, this is written by my favorite composer; he was amazing. Second of all, this piece of music is brilliant and calming. Beethoven was such an emotional composer, and you can feel these emotions permeating through his works.

Listen to Classical MPR in Monticello on KSJN 99.5 FM or on KSJR 90.1 FM.

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