Music Lasts a Lifetime

So can teachers’ relationships with students. NAfME member Sue Waters has had a relationship with one family since the late 1970s.

One of the families in Waters’ school has seven children. She had most of them in her elementary general music class and taught two of them guitar.

“They always invited me over in the summer for an all-day picnic, where we sat around playing guitar and singing songs. Eventually, I played guitar for several of their weddings, with the whole family joining in on some of the songs. Today two of those ‘girls’ sing in my Sweet Adelines chorus with me, and their children now sing the songs I taught their parents in elementary school.”

The oldest of 8, Waters says that singing played a big part of her family’s activities, “always led by me and my guitar. We often sang for family functions but also just when we got together. My sisters, nieces, and nephews have all put a high priority on music in their lives; I’m not sure they can verbalize what kind of impact music has had on them because it’s such a part of their being.”

“The fact that people continue to make music speaks much stronger to the impact of music than any statement one could make,” Waters says. “And that’s how I measure my success. I know I provided musical experiences for them that encouraged them to do music.”

Do you have a story to share about your students carrying on the musical experiences they had in your class? Leave a comment below.

Susan Waters teaches at Veronica Connor Middle School in Grand Island, New York.

—Linda C. Brown, October 13, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (