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Interview with Mary Frances Early, January 18, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:18 - Experiences as a new music teacher

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Partial Transcript: When and why did you become a music teacher?

Segment Synopsis: Early talks about being inspired to become a music teacher by her high school band director and her mother, who was a teacher. She talks about learning from her first day on the job to be more selective about the lessons she chooses. She describes how the skills she learned while student teaching at a high school did not directly translate to teaching elementary school. She talks about the importance of being patient and managing your time as a first-year teacher. She talks about working with limited resources for her teacher training at a small, private college.

Keywords: African American; Atlanta, Georgia; Clark Atlanta University; Clark College; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Ebenezer Baptist Church; H.M. Turner High School; Henry McNeal Turner High School; Hope-Hill Elementary School; John Hope Elementary School; Monroe, Georgia; UGA; University of Georgia; Walton County, Georgia; chorus; clarinet; ear training; elementary school; guitar; high school band director; kindergarten; motivating students; music education; music theory; piano; private college; scales; student teaching; teacher training

00:06:27 - Staying vs leaving / moments of pride

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Partial Transcript: Why did you stay in teaching so many years?

Segment Synopsis: Early talks about not participating in civil rights protests because she didn’t want to lose her teaching job. She talks about the differences between elementary and middle school students as well as the lack of fulfillment in administrative work compared to teaching. She describes the lack of a support system for music teachers that causes some to leave. She talks about feeling proud of certain elementary groups who performed at her former college, as well as a middle school group who earned a Superior rating at GMEA.

Keywords: 1960s; Clark Atlanta University; Clark College; GMEA; Georgia Music Educators Association; Michael Jackson; Mile of Dimes; UGA; University of Georgia; administration; band; chorus; civil rights movement; classroom management; coordinator of music; curriculum writing; discipline; elementary school; fundraisers; general music; guitar; in-service courses; in-service training; inner city schools; mentorship; middle school; music specialist; music supervisor; orchestra; resource teacher; sixties; social justice; special education; superior ratings

00:14:40 - Challenging moments / reasons for hope

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Partial Transcript: What were some of the most challenging moments of your career?

Segment Synopsis: Early describes the changes in the school system that made it difficult to provide direct help to music teachers. She talks about many principals’ misguided emphasis on staging concerts to impress parents and administrators. She talks about feeling hopeful when seeing that the extra effort she made for her students pays off later in their adult lives. She talks about balancing not taking herself too seriously while also maintaining high expectations for her students.

Keywords: Buffet Crampon; Centralization; Fox Theatre; Hansel and Gretel; Hephzibah, Georgia; Metropolitan Opera Company; Spelman-Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert; administration; band; clarinet; conferences; coordinators; curriculum specialists; decentralization; elementary school; first chair; general music; guitar; middle school; music education; music supervisors; musicals; opera; principals

00:24:02 - Teaching style / motivating students

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Partial Transcript: How would your former students describe your teaching style?

Segment Synopsis: Early talks about her firm, but fair style of teaching and shares an anecdote about using tactile touching to help her students learn rhythm. She talks about her high school band director, who inspired her by fostering a love for music and challenging his students. She talks about motivating students by demonstrating one’s own talent as well as setting high expectations for them.

Keywords: Clark Atlanta University; Clark College; beginner band; classroom management; dotted quarter notes; eighth notes; first clarinet; flute; high school band director; middle school; music education; rhythm; student conductors; tuba

00:30:45 - Mentorship / learning from students

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about a time when you mentored someone.

Segment Synopsis: Early talks about mentoring a teacher who replaced her as music coordinator after she retired. She talks about mentoring students when she sees potential in them to succeed in the field of music. She talks about learning to find a good musical fit for each particular student rather than forcing something that isn’t working.

Keywords: band; choir; general music; middle school; music coordinator; music education; strings