String Teacher Encourages Diversity

String Teacher Encourages Diversity

Member Spotlight: Taniesha Hines


This article originally appeared in the October 2016 Teaching Music.

NAfME member Taniesha Hines wrote a blog post called “Colorless Teaching: A Guide to Breaking Cultural Barriers in Today’s Orchestra Classroom.” Read it at

She presented a session by the same title at the 2016 NAfME National In-Service Conference on Saturday, November 12, 2016. The conference was held November 10–13 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine. 


Photo courtesy of Taniesha Hines

Hines answered some questions about her string program and shared suggestions for working with students.

Why did you decide to be a music teacher, and where did you attend college? I started strings in the fourth grade in Northern Virginia and had fantastic classroom teachers as well as private teachers that cared for me and stirred up my passion. As a result, I attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia in 2006. I’ve always concentrated on strings.

Please describe your music program and your school. I am entering my sixth year at Longleaf Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina.

I have the opportunity to serve approximately 110 amazing students each day. We have a diverse student body that includes a large, transient, military population. It is always my goal to establish relationships with my students in an effort to ignite their passion and appreciation for music.

In your blog post you suggest that teachers should learn as much as they can about their students, including how many siblings they have, what makes them sad, etc. What do you say to a teacher who might be uncomfortable getting that close to their students? While some teachers may be hesitant with this task, it has been my experience that the bonds formed with my students enable me to tap into their limitless potential.

Perhaps more important, how do teachers overcome any reluctance they might have? When we truly understand how tapping into a student’s life benefits his or her overall academic success, we will be more apt to overcome any reluctance we may have. Essentially, when we care about the student, they care about what we know. 

string teacher
Taniesha Hines


I like the idea of the question ball being tossed around the room. Do you see that as an icebreaker or something to use after students get settled into a routine? Both! I always use this activity to learn more about my students at the beginning of the school year. It is also beneficial for breaking up the daily classroom routine, especially during the spring competition season.

You say that string programs are becoming more diverse. Did that happen naturally, or did teachers like yourself encourage it? I definitely believe that teachers have to be more intentional about culturally expanding their programs. I am confident that string programs are becoming more diverse because they are now more accessible to students from different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds; however, in order for these programs to flourish, the educator must be deliberate about creating an equitable and engaging learning environment.

What role did professional development from South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) play in your music education career? I have attended our state conference every year since 2011. Each year, I am fortunate enough to bring at least one new idea into my classroom. While our conference is always beneficial, I have learned the most from the phenomenal board that we have in the orchestra division of SCMEA. The relationships and advice that I have gleaned from these experienced string educators have helped groom me into the teacher I am today.

Roz Fehr, NAfME Membership Outreach Specialist, October 2016. © National Association for Music Education (