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Interview with Erma Davis, June 24, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:14 - Early days as a teacher

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Partial Transcript: I’d like to start by asking you: when and why did you become a music teacher?

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about why she pursued a career in music education as well as her beginnings as an itinerant teacher. She talks about being prepared for the differences in schools from county to county. She talks about how being less demanding and more patient would have helped her during the first year as well as what was missing from her teacher training.

Keywords: DeKalb County; Gwinnett County Public Schools; Snellville Middle School; Snellville, Georgia; band; choral; chorus; itinerant teacher; method classes; middle school orchestra; orchestra; string specialist

00:03:33 - Highs and lows of the career

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Partial Transcript: Why have you stayed in teaching? This is your third year at Snellville.

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the passion for teaching that keeps her there and the lack of support that causes others to leave. She talks about the pride she felt when two of her groups set school records for scoring at LGPE. She talks about the challenge of dealing with bad behavior as well as the reward of taking students to see their first live orchestra performance.

Keywords: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; GMEA; Georgia Music Educators Association; LGPE; Large Group Performance Evaluation; Superior Ratings; behavior; classroom management; music education

00:07:57 - Optimism / other careers

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Partial Transcript: Now, a moment ago I asked you about some of the more challenging moments of your career

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about feeling hopeful when students follow her advice to take private music lessons. She tells a story about multiple mishaps during one particular LGPE and finding the humor in it. Davis talks about her previous corporate career and the possibility of moving into school administration.

Keywords: BellSouth; Fine Arts administrator; GMEA; LGPE; Large Group Performance Evaluation; administration; bass bow; corporate; music coordinator; music education; private lessons; viola

00:12:34 - Teaching style / motivating students

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

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about the balance of her strict, but fun teaching style. She talks about learning patience and humility from her high school orchestra teacher as well as dealing with limited resources. She talks about motivating her students through competition and taking them to see professional concerts.

Keywords: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Clayton State University; Georgia State University; LGPE; Large Group Performance Evaluation; Spivey Hall; Student Series concerts; chair challenges; high school orchestra; leadership; section leaders

00:16:05 - Mentoring and learning from students

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Partial Transcript: What do you need most to help you grow as a professional?

Segment Synopsis: Davis talks about continuing her education and attending professional development events. She talks about mentoring a student by including him in a studio recording session with adults. She talks about feeling inspired by a student who, despite starting music two years later than her classmates, became one of her top students.

Keywords: GMEA In-Service Conference; M.Ed.; Master of Music Education; Savannah, Georgia; concertmaster; general music; orchestra director; private lessons; professional development; violin