By STEPHEN O'KANE | Published February 14, 2013
DULUTH—Amy LoCurto’s music classes are about much more than music. While rhythm, melody and instruments do play a central role in the classroom, students naturally learn other life skills while studying music, according to LoCurto.
Now in her fourth year at Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic, World International Baccalaureate school in Duluth, LoCurto covers a wide range of musical subjects in her instruction of students of all ages. But there are some universal lessons that all students encounter when studying and playing music.
Music teaches “presentation skills in general, and the ability to carry yourself with confidence,” said LoCurto.
“It takes a lot of audacity to get in front of 500 people and play a piece of music. That same audacity, that same confidence, that same strength, that same sense of preparation” is used elsewhere in life, she said.
Teamwork is also a benefit of studying music in a group setting. It teaches youngsters to work together and to listen to each other because if they don’t, it will be reflected in the music.
“They have to understand their own personal job. The teamwork is vital,” said LoCurto.
In addition to general music classes, LoCurto also teaches band, musical theater and an electronic music class, which employs the use of iPads to record and track students’ progress. Students are exposed to a variety of musical styles and pieces and are even encouraged to write their own compositions.
LoCurto’s own musical journey began when she was in grade school. She joined the school band in fourth grade and played all through elementary, middle and high school and even into college when she began attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. Initially interested in studying marine biology, LoCurto changed her educational path to music education after participating in the marching band at Southern Illinois.
“It was so much fun and such a joy, not only the musical aspect but the challenge of learning a show every week, of writing choreography, and the friendships that you make. It had such an impact on my life that that semester I switched to music ed,” said LoCurto.
LoCurto also earned a master’s degree in music education from Georgia State University, which she feels helped her in teaching elementary school music. Employing the method developed by German composer Carl Orff, LoCurto makes music a “full-body experience” in her classes. The Orff method combines music, movement and speech into lessons designed for younger students.
LoCurto has taught exclusively in Catholic schools. She began her career in Clearwater, Fla., where she met her husband, Greg, before moving to the Atlanta area and taking a music education position at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Atlanta in 2002. They have three children.
“I can’t imagine not teaching in a Catholic school,” she said, adding that music and God and the Catholic Church are all entwined with each other.
“I love being here” at Notre Dame Academy, LoCurto said. “The confidence they have in me … inspires and motivates me to always do better.”
She was recently recognized as the chosen honoree from Notre Dame for the 2013 Archdiocese of Atlanta education banquet. LoCurto was humbled by the school’s decision.
“There are so many people that I look up to here,” she said. “It was humbling.”