Tara Byrdsong has made a career out of music as a teacher and performer. Currently, she is the band director at Luther Judson Price Middle School, winning the Teacher of the Year Award for 2015-2016, and also runs her own private flute studio. When she teaches her young band students, she borrows from her many musical experiences, including her time in AYWS. “I often draw from Dr. Stewart’s humor and gregarious personality,” says Tara.
An alumnus of Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program, Tara knows firsthand the value of music in a young person’s life. “You learn so much more than how to be a musician through music study. Delayed gratification, problem solving, comradery, networking, and learning how to work as a team are all vital skills one should learn and contribute to society.”
Tara recalls that her favorite moments with AYWS were the rehearsals and concerts during which Dr. Stewart brought in composers to work with the musicians. Indeed, one of many reasons to support AYWS, she says, is because of the unique exposure that students get to new musical works, in addition to the standards.
Another benefit to being in AYWS for Tara was being able to make connections with top musicians her age, some of whom are still her friends to this day. “Through these long time friendships, which include Dr. Stewart, I’ve been able to better network through this small musical world. I think most musicians would agree that it is important to not only practice well, but to also have good relationships with your peers.” Tara stays connected with the “small musical world” outside of her role as a music teacher as a member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Band and the Cobb Wind Symphony.
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