Teachers play an indispensable role in every child’s– and in every artist’s– journey. Especially at early ages, they are often a deciding factor in whether or not the arts become a lifelong passion or simply a fleeting memory of adolescence. In a conversation with The Hurricane, senior music education major at the Frost School of Music Julia Gorordo explained that she is more than prepared to answer the call and support childrens’ creative development.
“I think a music teacher is able to reach their students in a way a math or science teacher can’t,” she said. “It’s not fully about the curriculum on paper. It’s also putting your own emotions into it and using your past, your history, your feelings.”
Gorordo credits several teachers throughout her own journey from elementary school all the way through college as one of the major inspirations for her career path. Despite the many great experiences and mentors she’s had and wanting to follow in their footsteps, she clarifies that even she has had to work with some less than ideal leaders.
“I’ve definitely had a few really bad teachers at Frost that have made me sit and go, ‘I don’t wanna be like this teacher, I don’t ever want to talk to my students this way,’” she admitted. “But, I’ve also had a couple really good teachers here–teachers who’ve stuck their necks out for me and who’ve been there for me.”
While not all of her experiences as a student have been stellar, Gorordo and other music education majors at Frost continue to play a major role in outreach. Every year, the students coordinate bake sales, a benefit concert and other events to raise money for a grant which goes directly to a local school’s music program. Simply put, “whatever we can do to benefit music education we will do.”
In addition to learning from those who came before her, Gorordo has also amassed a wealth of hands-on experience, in part through summer camp work back home in Seattle. She works primarily in both music and theater with elementary school children, and her experience as a performer has helped her manage the precariousness of working with young kids.
“I know I have a teaching personality,” she says. “It’s been referred to as the ‘Disney Princess’ because I walk into a room of kids, and I light up and become Snow White. Rather than ‘I have to get all this information across,’ you can make it a performance.”
Yet, she finds some days are still unpredictable. One particularly “abrasive” student stands out in her mind. After repeated offenses, Gorordo describes pulling her out of class one day to confront the problem head on.
“As I’m standing in the hallway, this 11 year old looks at me and says, ‘It’s because I’m different,’ and I said ‘Why are you different?’ This kid at 11 years old thinks she’s gay and doesn’t know what to do with it.”
As delicate a situation as it was, it was yet another moment which affirmed Gorordo’s passion for teaching. Times like that taught her to stay humble even as she gets closer and closer to becoming a full time teacher.
“That’s the part of being an arts teacher that I love. Because she felt like she was in such a safe place that this thing that she has not told anyone, she could tell me.” Gorordo continues, “It humbles me because here I am thinking she’s an asshole all week, but she’s got something really big going on. That’s a lot to be going through at that age.”
In that way, Gorordo’s own experience proves what she has always known about being an arts teacher all along– that they can affect students in a truly unique way.
“It keeps me human, to be a teacher,” she said.