“Where words fail, music speaks.” This powerful quote from Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author best known for his fairy tales, serves as a motto for elementary music teacher Mary Wynn ‘04 (Music Education).
“As I teach music, I rarely have an expectation that my students will grow up to be professional musicians; that would be awesome, but it’s not necessarily probable. What I do wish for and work for is that my students experience music and life in a different way and that they let music change them. I hope that they develop a greater appreciation for the arts and a different way to express emotions.”
Mary realized her love of music early in life. For many years, she took piano lessons with Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Hodge at the former Community Music Center, now known as Pre-College and Adult Music Program, at UIndy, in addition to attending the UIndy Summer Piano Camp. In high school, she began lessons with Dr. Rebecca Sorley, the founder of the UIndy Summer Piano Camp, and transitioned to an instructor-role with the camp.
The UIndy Summer Piano Camp helped Mary explore new aspects of music and strengthen her musical talents.
“Although composition has never been a true strength of mine, I loved being able to try my hand at composing a piano piece. My last year of attending piano camp, I had so much fun composing! We were instructed to take a song we already know and change the melody, like a Bach invention. I chose “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” (like Bach) and it was exciting to be able to perform the end piece in the recital!”
When Mary decided to pursue a degree in music education, UIndy was a natural fit. The UIndy Music Department welcomed Mary into the family and prepared her for a career as a music teacher in the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indianapolis.
“My time at UIndy influenced my decision to be a music teacher with the multiple field experiences and observations at various schools. It was so important for me and my classmates as future educators to get as much ‘real-world’ experience as possible. Choosing to be an elementary music teacher was a natural progression stemming from my love for educating children and my love for music.”
Though she graduated, Mary’s time with UIndy was not over. To this day, Mary serves as an instructor with the UIndy Summer Piano Camp.
“I chose to stay on with Summer Piano Camp because it’s so much fun! I love teaching music at my everyday job, but camp is different. We have smaller groups, we have students who are already excited to be immersed in piano and music for a week, and the students learn a piano piece and have a recital after only five days.”
At camp, Mary usually teaches music history, with the groups learning about a different composer each day. The week concludes with the groups playing Jeopardy to test their knowledge.
After a year of virtual camp, she’s excited to return to campus and work with campers in-person.
“I am most looking forward to the nervousness and excitement of the first day of camp and how that changes to friendliness and familiarity as everyone gets to know each other. We have students who make it a tradition to come each year, and it’s amazing to see and hear their musical growth.”
Looking ahead, Mary plans to continue on as an instructor. She is excited for two of her children to return to camp and for her third child to join the program this year!