…and Quaver resources help make it possible!
Today on the blog, Quaver’s Kristin Clark Taylor sits down with Quaver Teacher Joe Jedju to talk about how being a music teacher—and a Quaver Teacher—has changed his life.
Take it away, Kristin!
Beethoven said it in five simple words:
“Music can change the world.”
Substitute just one word in that quote, fast-forward to today, and step into the classroom (or behind the wheel) of music teacher Joseph Jedju, and he’ll do Beethoven even one better:
“Music does change the world.”
Jedju, voted West Virginia’s 2018 General Music Teacher of the Year, has found the time and the tools to change the world with music—and time, for him, was running short. After 44 years of teaching, he was all set to retire until he came across a teaching resource that “changed everything” …most importantly, his decision to retire.
Joe in front of Quaver HQ!
“I’d never even heard of Quaver before,” Jedju says in amazement, “but the second I saw it during a curriculum preview, I knew I had to have it. I’d never seen anything like it – the technology, the color, the quality of curriculum. I was all set to retire, but then I saw this and said, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ This is too good to pass up. My kids are gonna love this!”
So Jedju stayed … and he left. He got behind the wheel of his car and he left.
The Journey to Nashville
As a surprise to his students, he recently made the 7+ hour drive from West Virginia to Quaver headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, so that he could appear in a live teleconference, as he says, “with Quaver (Graham Hepburn) himself!”
“Every March, we celebrate Music in our Schools with a poster contest, and I figured it’d be neat if we could get Quaver to help celebrate the winners,” he says with mounting excitement.
“We’d set up a date to do the teleconference with Quaver in our school gymnasium, but then I had an idea: Why don’t I hop in my car and drive to Nashville to surprise the students and appear live? Everyone at Quaver was so helpful in making it happen. And when I appeared live on-screen in the Quaver studios, the kids went crazy!”
Joe and Quaver himself at Quaver HQ in Nashville!
Jedju’s voice fills with emotion, his voice, with tears of happiness: “I could hear the kids yelling in excitement when they saw me on-screen! It was just the coolest thing.” When he thought about the poster contest, he also thought:
Every student is a winner.
At Quaver, this much is clear: Every student is a winner—even those who don’t win. Jedju says he recognized this as he got to know the people at Quaver.
“I thought it was just great that, instead of picking one winner for the poster contest, Quaver sent T-shirts to all of the students who’d participated! That sent such a positive message to the students. I’ll never forget it – and they won’t, either.”
Joe and his students in their Quaver t-shirts
Another gold-medal teaching tool Jedju uses to inspire his students is the Golden Quaver Award. “When I put the Golden Quaver award on my desk, the kids know something special is coming up,” he says.
“Whoever gets the award that day gets their picture taken and it goes up on my wall. Students use [Song]Brush, they compose their own work, they really try to shine, so in a very real way, Quaver is bringing out the best in my students.”
Music and Beyond
Jedju also uses Quaver resources as a cross-curricular tool.
“I go to other classroom teachers in school and ask, ‘What can I help you with?’ then I go back to the Quaver curriculum to see what I can come up with. There’s so much there – history, geography, information about other cultures and international holidays – so I share that information with the other teachers!”
Jedju’s enthusiasm shines through like a beacon, and it’s the quality of the Quaver curriculum that adds even more wattage to his already bright light. For Jedju, music is the miracle that helps makes learning happen.
“Music and math, for instance, go hand-in-hand,” he says. “In my classroom, I can see the wheels turning in my kids’ minds. When they learn about music, they learn about fractions. They learn about history. They learn about social studies and different cultures.”
But there’s also a social and emotional component to Quaver resources.
“When I see my students working together, composing together, even competing together,” says Jedju, “I see how Quaver helps bring it all together. Sure, there’s the academic growth, but I also see them growing on another level. They learn to grow socially and emotionally, too. They learn about working together, as a team. They learn to believe in themselves and each other,” he says, emotion playing in his voice as clearly as any instrument.
But most important? They’re having fun!
“In one school I teach at,” – he teaches at four – “state test scores went up tremendously in the past three years. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that students are having fun while they’re learning.”
Joe rocking his Perry the Sheep tee
And to Jedju, having fun is the name of the game.
“If my students aren’t having fun while they’re learning, then I’m doing something wrong,” he says. “I have Quaver to thank for that, because the curriculum is not only instructive, super-simple to use, and technologically sophisticated, but it’s just plain fun. It makes my students happy.”
And what’s more, he adds?
“It makes me happy, too.”
This Quaver super-teacher lives by the words of P.T. Barnum, whose words he quotes easily and often:
“The noblest art is that of making other people happy.”
Thank you, Mr. Jedju, for sticking around, sticking it out, and deciding not to retire.
By staying, you’ve made a lot of people very, very happy – a noble art, indeed. And if Barnum (as in P.T.) and Beethoven (as in L.V.) were still around, they’d most certainly agree.
In fact, they might even decide to bestow the next Golden Quaver Award to the person who deserves it most.
Kristin Clark Taylor is an award-winning author and journalist.