Jayde Martin ’18 has always had her sights on becoming a music teacher. When she was trying to choose the right school, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music proved to be the perfect fit for her, not only because of its impressive music education program, but also Crane’s outstanding music performance program, so she double majored in both!
“My primary goal was to be an orchestra teacher in the public schools, but I also wanted to find a place where I would have the opportunities to perform. I’ve been playing violin since I was five years old, and I’m just used to performing in front of people and I always want to get better for myself. Crane was a really great place for me to find exactly that. The music education department is great! The faculty are very caring and they know what you need,” she said.
One faculty member who made a significant impact on Martin was Associate Professor Dr. Sarah Hersh. She’s really helped me grow as an artist and she knew exactly what I needed in my four years. She was great,” Martin said.
Dr. Robert Docker, an assistant professor in the music education department, also provided her with a lot of guidance as an undergraduate. She said that he really helped her to grow as a string music educator. “In the classroom, he is just himself. He doesn’t have to put on a show for anyone. He’s not trying to impress anyone, and that’s inspired me to just be myself,” she said.
“What's great about Crane is that it has a solid music education curriculum as well as being very strong in performance.”
After graduating in May, Martin was back on campus for her third summer working as a counselor for Crane Youth Music (CYM)—a program that started in 1973 for middle school and high school musicians from all over the country. The first summer, she played with the symphony orchestra at CYM; last summer, she coached a violin quartet, and this year Docker gave her the reigns to conduct a piece for the CYM chamber orchestra. Docker took a seat as Martin led the young string musicians at the front of a rehearsal hall in the Crane complex.
“I love it, because I get to see the perspective of Crane through the eyes of middle school- and high schoolers. When I was their age, I did not have that opportunity. The campers get to work one-on-one with faculty in so many different settings, and seeing them experience Crane in this way is really exciting for me,” Martin said.
Her development as a music educator took a major step forward last semester while student teaching. Her first placement was at Tesago Elementary School in Clifton Park, N.Y., where she taught general music to first through fifth graders, and also conducted two choruses. Her second placement was at Saratoga Springs High School, where she worked with the high school orchestra and helped teach music theory.
“Through student teaching last semester, I was able to do a lot of conducting with two orchestras. I also conducted an elementary choir. I was able to get so much experience in the field. Being off campus my last semester, in the schools every single day, really got me in the mindset of what it was like to be a teacher full time,” Martin said.
During her student teaching she not only taught violin—her primary instrument—but also viola, cello and bass. “I really was able to develop and grow on those instruments. When you’re teaching strings, especially at the elementary level, you are teaching all of the strings. Knowing the foundations of each of those instruments and basic techniques is really important for teaching your students,” she said.
Her other major teaching opportunity took place in Jamaica as part of the Jamaica Field Service Project. There, she worked with children in small primary schools in rural Jamaica, teaching drumming lessons, recorder lessons and singing traditional Jamaican songs with the local children. After first participating in the project in 2017, she was invited back twice as a supervisor, where she oversaw other music education students in the program. “Each time I loved it! I love seeing a different culture and being able to immerse myself in music. A lot of what I did at Crane prepared me for the work that I did in Jamaica,” she said.
In addition to teaching in the rural schools, Martin also learned about Afro-Caribbean drum beats and spent every night drumming on the island. “A lot of my work there helped me in my general music placement (student teaching) this past semester. I actually designed a curriculum on bucket drumming, and it was the first time the children had ever done anything like that,” she said.
Martin has been busy applying for jobs all over New York State, hoping to find a position where she can oversee an orchestra. She recently accepted a job as an elementary and middle school music teacher in the Liverpool Central School District in Syracuse, N.Y. where she will be doing just that. In addition to conducting two orchestras, she will be teaching lessons and recruiting children in the elementary school for her orchestra. As she prepares to get set up in her first classroom, Martin feels well-prepared to start teaching the next generation of musicians—thanks to her many leadership opportunities through The Crane School of Music.
To learn more about the Department of Music Education, visit: www.potsdam.edu/academics/Crane/MusicEd