When most people think of elementary school music, they think of kids spending most of the year playing the recorder, but Mr. Farris is transforming that stereotype with his students.
Farris is in his fifth year teaching music, but it hasn’t always been spent in the music room. Before he became a music teacher, he taught fifth grade, kindergarten, and special needs preschool.
Farris decided to make the transition from a classroom teacher to a music teacher. He made the decision of switching teaching academics to the arts because he knew it would bring together his two passions: teaching and music.
“I think the thing I enjoy most about teaching is the potential that exists in each day. It isn’t a typical profession,” Farris said.
His day often consists of traveling between various schools. Farris teaches music at Hailmann and Kingsford Heights Elementary School, and there are little things that he enjoys about both of the schools.
“At Hailmann, I’d have to say the staff. We have such a unique group there. They really are like a family to me,” Farris said. “At Kingsford Heights, I’d have to say the unique culture out there. It is kind of cool to be a part of a town within a town. When I go out to the Heights, I get a feeling of community that is very localized and close-knit.”
Amongst the many things Farris has brought to the elementary schools he teaches at, one stands out the most. He was asked to write the unofficial Hailmann school song to add to the weekly inspirational days.
“Laurie Scroggin and Jessica Banic wanted to try to promote kindness and positive life skills for our students at Hailmann, so they started Tuesday Campfire meetings. Each Tuesday morning, students start the day off in the gym with a quick positive, fun, and motivational lesson on kindness. They wanted to end each meeting with an upbeat song for everyone to sing along to,” Farris said. “The song’s message is basically one of staying positive and never giving up on yourself; looking for ways to promote the greater good and always trying your best.”
Farris realizes that teaching isn’t all about the content that is taught; it is way deeper than that.
“When thinking back through the years of teachers that made an impact on my life, it wasn’t necessarily what they taught me that made the difference. It was how they inspired me to be more; how they made me feel that I was more than I thought of myself. With everyone, there is always room for that potential,” Farris said.
More than anything, Farris enjoys knowing that his students leave the classroom with some sort of knowledge on music and have the potential to contribute musically to the world in one way or another.
“They may not make a national wave or be the next Yo Yo Ma when they grow up, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t participate in community bands, provide music in coffee houses, play music for celebrations like weddings, play in their place of worship, or simply sing lullabies to their future children,” Farris said. “Music is a universal language. I feel that music can speak to people where words cannot; regardless of their native tongue. My job is to allow students to see themselves within music and hopefully find a place where they belong.”
Music carries into Farris’ life outside of school as well. He’s constantly creating, rehearsing, and performing music in various settings on many different instruments. Even though he spends majority of his time in music, whether it be at school or outside of school, his favorite thing to come home to every day are his three children.
“It can be crazy at times, but I truly love it though,” Farris said.
Farris isn’t just another teacher. He has showed that he is willing to do whatever it takes for his students to feel like they are worthy through the melody of music.