Celebrate Audra Faris, NNS music teacher

School Band and Orchestra SBO 20th Annual “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” in 2017!


 Audra Faris, Nikiski North Star Elementary music teacher, represents Alaska!audra school pic

“I feel quite honored and totally undeserving of this award. Somewhere, some kind soul nominated me for this modern band award. I am thankful that someone noticed I was doing modern band. It is not nearly as popular as concert band is in elementary schools. In fact, I think I am the only modern band teacher for elementary level in our district. But the kiddos love it! Our “rock band” is very successful. Kids get to play the tunes they know and enjoy, and it is very fun for me as well. Rockin’ out is a new concept for this classically trained singer and music teacher! I have to say jamming on the drum kit is my favorite!”

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School Band and Orchestra Magazine asked Ms. Faris a few questions, and shares her responses online

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

“I have had several. Whenever a student is smiling and enjoying themselves while performing, I am thrilled. There are thousands of those little moments that happen, not only during a performance, but while they are here in the classroom. But most of all, when a student continues music beyond my classroom, it lets me know that I have planted a seed in their hearts and sparked an interest that may not have been there before.”

How do you hope to make a difference in students’ lives?

“I want students to enjoy music. I want them to experience something really cool here in my classroom that makes them stop and say, “Wow, that was fun,” or “Wow, that makes me want to know more!” Music should be more than just a break from the regular classroom, it should be an enlightening adventure to exposing a part of who they already are. It should be a compliment to the wonderful person they are inside!”

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

“Truly, it is that music is in everything. It is hard to imagine our daily lives without music: a radio in the morning on our way to work, the school song on the intercom, the students sharing their favorite artists and songs. But music goes beyond that. It is in the fluency of which we read and talk. It is the counting rules and fractions in math, it is our history that brought about many changes in our culture and diversity. Music is in everything. I talk often with my students about how what we are learning fits in to what they are already experiencing. It is not a hard bridge to cross. Rhythm, improvisation, theory, melody, playing an instrument and all that music encompasses can be sewn into a lesson pertaining to our daily routines and lives.”

Mrs. Gilman, Nikiski North Star Elementary principal said, “We are so excited and proud for her! Since she has been at NNS she has started a modern (rock) band and continued to develop the concert band. In addition, she has now started an after school choir. In terms of engagement, 68% of our fourth and fifth graders started band last fall and played at the spring concert in May. That is a tremendous level of participation for something they have to miss part of recess to pursue!”


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