Elizabeth Smith, Music Teacher

June 12, 2020

Where did you grow up/study?

I grew up and studied in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Alberta is mostly a flat prairie region, but to the south of the province, there are some lovely mountains and lakes that are great for hikes!

Can you tell us more about your role at CAIS.

I will be teaching music at CAIS! The music program will include choir, band, and elementary music which involves singing, recorder, percussion instruments, and movement. I will also be helping out with different clubs and athletic activities at the school.

How did you wind up here?

Well to be honest, this is not something I had planned. I had just recently graduated from university and began applying for jobs in my country. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and budget cuts to education in my province, not many jobs are available at the moment.

In January of this year, I went to a career fair for education held at our school and was given a program sheet of all the different schools, and districts who came to the event. Due to time constraint, I was not able to visit all of the booths, but I kept that program sheet for future reference.

In April, I began looking for jobs and an idea popped into my head. I had just finished my practicum at a school and realized that I needed to be able to live out my Christian values in the work place without fear of repercussions. There are only two schools in my city that are Christian and both already have music teachers. Then I remembered the program sheet from the fair and that is how I came across Christain Alliance International School.

Through prayer and planning I look forward to enhancing the music program at CAIS and sharing God’s love to his sons and daughters.

Biggest challenge and rewarding moment working in music education?

For me, the biggest challenge for working in music education is finding the best approach for teaching a concept. What works for one student may not work for the other but it is finding out what works them and seeing them succeed that brings the joy and reward of teaching. Establishing goals with a student and their parents, then finding strategies and resources that fit their needs is the first step in confronting the challenge. Seeing that student achieve their goals because of the additional steps you took can change the way a student sees themselves and their ability to succeed and that is the reason we teachers do what we do.

What drew you to music? How has music education impacted your life?

From grade 5-9, I was homeschooled with my brother and sister. We did many extra-curricular activities, including sports, art, and music outside of school. I had played in wind band since grade 5 and really enjoyed the communal and aural aspects of it. We had changed teachers every 1-2 years and in my grade 9 year, we had these awesome teachers named Brandy Lee and Laurel. Even though there was only 6 of us in the band, I remember that they made us feel like we were doing something important and continually communicated their high expectations for us.

Every week we played the best we could and had fun as a result. Through our regular practice outside of class time, we were able to develop a relationship during our class time that left a lasting impression. Once I got into university, I learned focused and intentional practice was essential for achieving your goals. Combined this with consistent hard work, and you can achieve your dreams. That is the beauty and science of music. Playing music well is a goal that takes a lifetime to achieve but you can do it if you are persistent and receive the support you need. This also applies to all aspects of life itself. This is why I believe learning music is a crucial part of learning how to be a responsible and empathetic human being.

What kind of student were you?

I am a lifelong student. I always look for ways to improve my teaching and constantly challenge myself to learn different ways of approaching a problem or aspect of life. It is my goal to inspire students to solve problems on their own by giving them the proper tools and strategies.

What do you miss most about Alberta when you are overseas?

What I am going to miss the most is my family, the space in my country, and the fresh air that is throughout the city. But I am not going to miss those –30 C winters!