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Evan Thompson - Month of Musicianship

In honor of November being the Month of Musicianship, we would like to spotlight a brother who strives for the highest in his career as a music educator. Evan Thompson, past National President and current Board of Trustees member, is the Music Teacher and Related Arts Team Leader at Pelion Elementary School in Lexington County School District One. Evan spoke with Alumni Association Communication Committee members Macy Salem and Savannah Reed to discuss his career in music education, Kappa Kappa Psi's role in his career path, overcoming doubts, and more!

How has Kappa Kappa Psi played a role in your career in music?

Evan's first experience with working in the professional world was with Kappa Kappa Psi as a Chapter Field Representative in 2010-2012. As a CFR, he developed many skills, such as listening and working with students, that he still uses to this day. The lessons taught in our Ritual have provided him with a value system to live by on how to treat, engage, and learn from people. He wants to model what students will strive to be later in life, and Kappa Kappa Psi has provided him the tools to do so.

What inspired you to want to teach music for a living?

Evan is grateful to have learned from some of the best teachers that South Carolina had to offer. Post-high school, he was shocked by the amazed reactions that people had when they learned who his band director was. Additionally, both of his parents are teachers. Because of these deep roots in education, he was inspired to follow in their footsteps. Since he learned from such great role models, he wants to provide everything his teachers have taught him to his students by creating opportunities and shaping them into great human beings.

Why do you think music education in elementary school is important?

Evan has experience with teaching middle school. After seeing middle school students struggle with the basics of music, he has gained a deep understanding of how important music education in elementary school is. Elementary music teaches the music literacy that builds the foundation for future musical success. If we want great college bands, then it starts with a strong music education in elementary school.

How has your education prepared you for your role?

The most important thing that Evan learned in his undergraduate education is that music education is a people business. It's about making the students your focus, treating everyone in your school with dignity and respect, and being a decent human being overall. Art is about connecting with others and sending a message of inclusivity and love. Building community within your space is the most important aspect of this work.

What is something that you wish you knew before starting a career teaching music at the Elementary school level?

Evan is certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade, but he did not take any elementary music classes during his degree program. There is a big difference in teaching methodologies in elementary music compared to middle school or high school, so he had to almost completely relearn how to teach once he began teaching elementary school. Because of this, he wishes that he had known to diversify the types of classes he took while in college. Taking a variety of classes and having a wide range of experiences increases your chances of getting a job in music education. He also wishes he had gotten an additional degree in medicine because of how often he got sick during his first year!

Did you have any doubts about pursuing a career in music? How did you overcome them?

Evan always dreamed about being a band director, so he had absolutely no doubts that he wanted a career in music education. However, that changed once he started to teach his first class. After the first day, he was worried that he had made a huge mistake. That evening, his middle school band teacher provided guidance and encouraged him to stick it out. He took his teacher's advice, and after a few months, things got much better. Doubts still creep in from time to time, especially given the way that teachers can be portrayed negatively in the media. However, the doubts are never about the students or music, so he is able to overcome them by staying focused and making his students smile.

How do you balance work, life, and your significant commitment to Kappa Kappa Psi?

He balances work, life, and Kappa Kappa Psi very carefully. He is a firm believer in setting boundaries and using the do not disturb feature on his phone. When he is with family or friends, he makes sure to spend time with them, not his phone. It is not easy to learn how to take time for yourself, but it is a crucial skill to develop. However, it is important to be there for work and the fraternity, so he always makes sure to communicate with people to let them know if he will be unavailable. Additionally, Evan emphasized the importance of being upfront about stress or anxiety so that your peers know how you feel and can help when it's needed. Clear is kind.

What advice do you have for students or alumni that are thinking about a career in Elementary Music?

One of the biggest pieces of advice that Evan has is to take a wide variety of classes. You never know what the future will hold or what you will teach, so be prepared for anything. Elementary school is such a special time in children's lives - they are curious, excited, and it's an amazing opportunity to have a great impact on them. It is important and it is worthwhile. Evan also mentioned that there are a few job openings at Pelion Elementary School in Lexington County School District One if anyone is interested!

We know that you’ve traveled to quite a few places on your Kappa Kappa Psi journey, so there is one question that everyone wants to know - who has the best sweet tea?

The best sweet tea is made by his people at Shealy's BBQ in South Carolina.

A special thank you to Brother Evan Thompson for taking the time to share his experience and advice with us. Happy Month of Musicianship!

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