Kirsten Berry is another recent addition to the La Porte Community School Corporation. She teaches music at Handley and Indian Trail Elementary.
Berry attended Ball State for four years, studying Music Education. Her goal since day one has been to brighten children’s days.
“If kids can get interested in hearing new styles, play new instruments, and simply have fun while learning, they will be a forever musician,” Berry said.
One of the biggest challenges for a music educator, especially one who works with young children, is the advanced and deep concepts within music; however, Berry has developed her own method to tackling this challenge.
“The concept of a beat is something I start day one of kindergarten. Primary grades do a lot more movement with music than the older grades. They need to switch gears and get moving every 5-7 minutes or they lose focus…Both free dance and guided dance is used frequently. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades start getting into basic theory such as note names, tonality, and reading and writing music. Music history is taught a lot through culture,” Berry said.
Berry has a detailed plan for how she wants students to be involved with instruments. She emphasizes the importance of instrumental education and how it relates to the application of different concepts in music.
“The instruments students play the most are classroom percussion instruments: boomwhackers, rhythm sticks, drums, tambourines, and triangles. These instruments heavily emphasize steady beat during lessons. 4th and 5th graders begin [playing the] recorder [so] students [learn] an easier woodwind instrument on a size that fits their smaller hands. [This year] I received a grant to purchase ukuleles, and I could start this project with students as young as 2nd grade. I am really excited to see what learning a string instrument can do for the kids,” Berry said.
Berry has enjoyed being a part of the La Porte Community Schools Corporation. She values family, a deciding factor in her decision to teach in La Porte.
“I have only taught in the La Porte School district and plan to stay for many years. I love it here! My hometown is Chesterton, only 45 minutes away. I was more inclined to [teach here] because I would be closer to my family,” Berry said.
Berry has a strong music education rooted in voice, which she studied through high school and college. She has also had many great experiences because of her involvement in music.
“One thing I like about music is that everybody listens to it, and there is something out there for everyone to enjoy. I am constantly listening to music. Music is its own language and the opportunity to connect with people is endless. Some of the coolest places I have traveled have been because of music. [Because of music] I have performed at Disneyland and Carnegie Hall,” Berry said.
Outside of the classroom, Berry finds various muses to express her qualities as a creative and artistic person.
“When I have free time I like doing paint by numbers, or even watercolor painting. On Tuesdays, I rehearse with the La Porte Adult Choir. I love being able to perform in a choir again,” Berry said.
Berry brings jollity to youth music programs. Her methods are innovative in bringing music to a new demographic and they instill the importance of music early on. Music is her passion and no doubt she will continue to impact students for many years to come.