"When looking at colleges, I quickly focused my search on top-notch music programs and Luther emerged. It just felt right."
In high school, Willy was already thinking of majoring in music. “In some ways I was lucky to know I wanted to be a music educator so early,” he says. “When looking at colleges, I quickly focused my search on top-notch music programs and Luther emerged. It just felt right.”
After graduating, Willy student taught as an alumni and took a position as a long-term sub in January 2014. “The following spring, I was hired to teach 5th through 12th grade band at Spring Grove,” he says. “I feel lucky to have begun teaching music so soon after getting my degree.”
Willy believes that a huge part of being an effective educator, and especially a music educator, is the ability to inspire, especially youth. “It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone and is very difficult to teach,” he says.
Willy feels that anyone who has participated in an ensemble at Luther would agree that inspiration is woven into the fabric of music making at Luther. “That’s why Luther is able to produce such effective music teachers,” he says. “Luther not only taught me how to teach music, but how to inspire through music. And that changes lives.”
During one of his January Terms, Willy took an English course with more than 15 other students, and they sailed in the Virgin Islands while reading Shakespeare's The Tempest and other literature about the sea. “That experience was a welcome change from my music-education courses and helps me appreciate today what my colleagues and students do in classrooms,” he says.
While part of Luther’s Concert Band, Willy also had the opportunity to travel to Iceland and Norway for a 10-day tour. ”We gave four public concerts on that tour. During three of the concerts I could see the ocean from where I sat in the band!” he says. “The Concert Band tour strengthened how we felt as an ensemble and as friends. I hope to pass the same camaraderie, honor, and character traits on to my students on a daily basis.”
For Willy, music is a part of his everyday life. He regularly plays and sings as a soloist and participates in ensembles in the community. “There are times when I’ll be sitting in choir rehearsal and notice a practice strategy the conductor uses that I want to try later with my band,” he says. “By making music, I’m a more effective music educator and it gives me a better understanding of the journey my students are on. I can show them by example how music can enrich their lives for many years.”
“Playing and singing in Luther bands and choirs is unlike any other experience I had in college. The personal, professional, social, and emotional bonds formed with others while singing or playing in a musical ensemble are essential for music educators.”