The plight of an educator is rarely easy, and courses can only go so far in preparing a student for the role of a teacher. So when Lander University assistant professor of music and director of bands Dr. Christopher Hughes wanted to show students what it was like to work in the field of music education he brought in Lander graduate Glen Funderburk. As director of bands at Blythewood High School in Columbia, Funderburk offered music students the opportunity to get first-hand insight into what it means to be a successful music educator.
"Glen is on the fast track to becoming one of the best band directors in South Carolina," says Hughes. "After seeing a performance by his band, I was blown away and knew immediately we needed to bring him back home to talk with students about his success."
Upon graduating from Lander in 2000, Funderburk, a Greenwood native, began his first band director appointment at Bythewood Middle School. To the students he joked that he inherited such a good program that his greatest stress and fear was that he would end up killing it. On the contrary, he kept the program very much alive during his time there and brought the band to even greater heights. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of moving to the high school, as expressed by Funderburk, is that he continues to work with and mold the talents of many of the students he taught at the middle school.
Funderburk explained that one way to be a good music educator is to focus on every detail of the student's performance no matter how minute. This doesn't mean just making sure that students are skilled with their instruments. A good music educator may also need to spend hours teaching students how to stand up and bow. These details may seem trivial, said Funderburk, but if you have a large group of kids on stage performing, they not only need to play well together, they need to look professional. In fact, before every performance, Funderburk, himself, spends a good bit of time in front of a mirror practicing his own bow.
Another crucial step to being a good music educator, according to Funderburk, is to take the time to visit other music teachers and their classrooms. He encouraged Lander music students to reach beyond their scheduled clinical and student teaching hours to pursue opportunities to observe great music educators from as far away as Atlanta. Through personal experience with observing renowned music educators in the area, Funderburk has found them very receptive to having visitors in their classrooms.
Funderburk discussed many other facets that combine to make up a good music instructor. From a discussion of the importance of private lessons to the issues that arise when taking over a music program that has been under another teacher's direction, he covered a wide range of issues these future music educators might face as they make the move from student to teacher.
"With his new position at Blythewood High School, Glen is continuing his success in music education and band direction," said Lander's Hughes, having recently observed a performance by the Blythewood High School band. "He has certainly left Lander music students with the positive and honest encouragement they will need to go out and become great educators."