Ashlynn Anderson
Grades 6-12 Vocal Director, Parkston School District, Parkston, South Dakota
Ashlynn Anderson

Teacher of note

Ashlynn enjoys sharing her passion for music with others, so when it came time to choose her college major, studying both vocal music and secondary education struck the perfect chord. In addition to performing and touring with Northwestern’s A cappella Choir, she benefited from the education department’s classroom field experiences—allowing her to grow in confidence as a musician and teacher. Now, as a vocal music director, she directs three school choirs and teaches a general music course for middle schoolers.

What brings you the most joy in teaching music?
I decided to study music because it is a huge passion of mine, and I wanted to share that with others. Watching my students become more interested in learning as their skills improve is very rewarding.

How do you integrate faith into your work as a music educator?
I strive to love my students as Jesus would, creating a safe space that meets their learning needs. I also have the benefit of incorporating religious texts and songs into an ensemble’s repertoire.

What are the strengths of Northwestern’s music department?
Northwestern’s music ensembles are open to all majors, so you are able to meet people who share your interest in music even if they’re studying different things. The relationships I built with fellow students and professors were priceless.

How did student teaching and classroom field experiences support your learning?
Practicum experiences are a great way to make connections and learn how to handle situations you might see in your own classroom someday. Textbooks, articles and videos aren’t going to help you navigate every situation you encounter in the field, so these classroom visits are essential to success after graduation. By observing different teaching styles, I began to shape my personal teaching style for use during student teaching and in my current role.

Who at Northwestern stands out to you—and why?
Dr. Holm was one of the most influential professors I had in the music department. Taking classes with him benefited my learning experience because he pushed me to reach my potential as a musician. During my freshman year, I auditioned for a solo but tried to back out when I thought another student would do better. He told me to stick with it, which opened doors for me later in my college career.

Tell us about your experiences touring with Northwestern’s A cappella Choir.
Choir tours were amazing. They gave me opportunities to travel to new places and make connections with host families and audience members. Tours are so important because you get to share your passion for music and make great memories with those in an ensemble. I hope to give my students the same opportunities someday!