October Teacher Spotlight: Anna Ballmer

This month we are featuring Anna Ballmer. Anna graduated from Bowling Green State University as a K-12 Music Education major with a specialty in strings. Her primary instrument is the viola, and she has been teaching private violin and viola lessons for 15 years. She started her music career in Chalkida, Greece, where she taught at a music conservatory. Since then, she has started an orchestra program from scratch in 2015 and currently teaches applied violin lessons at Lorain County Community College. She also teaches beginning violin classes in collaboration with Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra at Oberlin Center for the arts; Lorain Arts Academy. And if all of that isn't impressive enough, Anna owns an arts administrative business, where the primary objective is coordinating and managing a city sponsored outdoor concert series in Perrysburg, OH and she will have an article published in OMEA's triad online magazine. Keep reading if you want to read my interview with Anna!

What city do you currently teach in?

I teach in Amherst, OH.

What instruments do you play/ teach?

My primary instrument is the viola. I teach violin, viola, cello, and bass. I have a 6th grade pianist and guitarist in orchestra, as well as an 8th grade violist/drummer!

How did your career in music get started?

I began playing professionally in high school in theater pit orchestras, as well as various symphonic orchestras in NW Ohio. Upon graduating college, my teaching career began in Chalkida, Greece, when I was hired to teach at a music conservatory for two years. During the Greek recession, I came back to Ohio to teach in Fremont for three years (K-6 general music and 5th-8th grade orchestra), until the opportunity to build an orchestra program from the ground up in Amherst was presented.

What’s your favorite song to play?

“This is Halloween,” by Danny Elfman, arr. by James Kazik. My 7th and 8th graders request it daily!

What other hobbies besides music do you have?

I love travelling and pursuing adventures with my fiance! We have done zip-lining, skiing, sky-diving, camel riding, snorkeling, and hiking.

I also joined an adult softball league!

What has been your favorite moment as a teacher?

Witnessing the profound impact that learning an instrument has on student leadership, team building, self confidence, and demonstrating their feeling of belonging to something important. I also love the excitement and inspiration I can see and feel in my students when they are exposed to world class musicians who perform for and work with the orchestras.

What do you find to be the best motivator for students?

Other than embracing the social aspect of a team environment with pizza parties, candy rewards, stickers on faces, community performances, and orchestra sledding trips, I find that preparing my students to be great live performers through hard work creates opportunities for them to receive gratifying accolades from parents and the community.

What are your future goals as a musician and teacher?

There are many goals to reach as a musician and teacher with a brand new program. I would like my students to pursue any and all performance opportunities like large group contests, state contests, and national orchestras. I am planning on starting a rock orchestra when the students reach the high school on electric instruments!

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Play and perform as often as possible. Whether it is through contests, community involvement, in a band, anything! Having goals motivates you to work hard.

I want students to know that reading music and playing an instrument is a special skill and language that only a select amount of people can do. It makes them unique and special to be a musician, but it comes with a responsibility. It is that responsibility to stay with it to have a life long identity as a musician who can MAKE music!

Fun fact?

I was an active member (Vice-President) of the Venture Crew in high school, which is a branch off the Boy Scouts of America.

I trained my 2 year old cat Stella to sit, stay, lay down, roll over, jump up, and meow on command!

Stephen Heck