My Music. My Story. Alexa Knoderer.
Words by Meredith Resener
Alexa Knoderer is a recent Butler grad and a first-year teacher. She talks about the importance that music has played in her and her family’s lives, as well as in her classroom.
Tell us about yourself!
I am from Indianapolis, Indiana, and I am a seventh-grade resource teacher at Belzer Middle School. This is my first year of teaching!
Do you have any sort of background in music?
I have very little experience in music. However, I dabbled in the viola in late elementary/early middle school. I also played the clarinet and trombone for two years. I had a lot of opportunities to try new things going into middle school, and that is one of the things I wanted to try. I know a thing or two, but nothing very extensive.
What is your favorite kind of music, and why?
I know everyone says they listen to every kind of music, but I really do. I listen to 60’s music and The Beatles with my grandparents, so those bands are really sentimental to me. But when I’m with my mom, I listen to Billy Joel, Elton John, and other 80’s bands. I also listen to the pop music I grew up with. I’ll pretty much listen to whatever is on XM radio and the specialized genre stations on there.
How has music influenced your life?
This isn’t necessarily about myself, but I have really seen the power of music with my brother. He is on the autism spectrum, and he didn’t talk until he was four years old. But before he could speak, he was singing. He was really moved by music, and it’s something that has brought us closer together. I remember I used to drive him around and we would just listen to the radio and sing together.
What is the best part about the work you do?
Getting to know the youth in my community on a deeper level and teaching them every single day is one of the most special things I do. There is a big level of community involvement- I teach in the district that I grew up in and I know the community really well. I think community engagement and impact is very important. I take a lot of pride in that.
You say you are very community-oriented, how do you think music can benefit the Indianapolis community?
I think our arts are significantly underfunded compared to our stadiums and sports fields. That’s not for every student. My brother is really into sports and had a lot of opportunities with sports, but if he was not involved with that, my parents were going to encourage him to pursue marching band in high school because of the sense of community it brings. Students who aren’t involved with sports in their community or on campus should be able to use the arts for that sense of community. Studies show that students who are more involved with their community do significantly better in school. It also teaches students commitment and dedication. There are a lot of opportunities for students to pursue the arts, whether that means going to college to major in music performance, or just simply having a place to belong or something that brings you to school every day. Coming from the perspective of a special educator, my students are ones who typically struggle with certain subjects in school. For a lot of my students, their band or arts classes are the ones they do the best in. I wouldn’t trade these skills for my students.
Do you think there are opportunities to incorporate music in the work you do as a teacher?
For me specifically, music is built into my classroom management strategy. I like to have more calm, laid back music playing when students enter my classroom in order to set the vibe and the tone of the class period. It helps to either transition students between activities, or helps them focus and serves as a positive reinforcement for students. I think music in the classroom is such an effective tool for many different reasons.