Teaching Instrumental Music in a Residential School Setting

August 15, 2013 / By: Grace E. Watkins

The purpose of this paper was to explore the challenges and rewards of teaching instrumental music in a boarding school setting. Due to the lack of research in specifically music programs at boarding schools, I expanded my research to literature on boarding schools in general. The most common types of literature written about boarding schools included memoirs or historical books depicting life of students and teachers at boarding schools, theses and dissertations of studies regarding specific schools, and articles and books written about the boarding school philosophy of a holistic education. I then related these themes and ideas with a small history of my school, Shattuck St. Mary's. After the historical background I discussed the instrumental program at Shattuck St. Mary's and the day to day challenges of being a teacher in the boarding setting. The last section of my paper focuses on two interviews with two different boarding school music teachers; Dr. Frederick Geiersbach and Adam Schlipmann. Through these interviews I learned about the similarities between their positions and my own, and how they developed their music programs at their schools. It was important that these schools were similar in size and demographics to Shattuck St. Mary's. Teaching at a boarding school is a unique experience that not many know about or would ever consider; I hope that this paper sheds a positive light on what it means to be a music teacher in a 21st century boarding school.