Ethos instruction is music to the ears

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Photo Credit: PHOTO BY BILL VOLLMER - Ethos instructors Amanda Wyatt, left, Meaghan Russell, Din Huerta and Matt Hyslop performed this fall at a concert at the United Methodist Church.School District 509-J students have been enjoying music lessons this year from four instructors from the Portland-based Ethos Program.

The instructors are Matt Hyslop, at Metolius Elementary, Amanda Wyatt, at Madras Primary, Din Huerta, at Warm Springs K-8 Academy, and Meaghan Russell of Buff Intermediate.

Matt Hyslop, who is from Indianapolis, Ind., said, “I was looking for a job that would allow me to teach music and see a different part of the country, so I applied for this, and drove out here.”

He has a degree in general music and guitar performance, and another one in recording industry studies, which covers the business and technical side of the industry.

In Metolius, he teaches general music to kindergarten through fifth-graders, and after-school guitar and piano lessons. The Ethos instructors also put on the seasonal school concerts.

“This was a good experience to see if I’d enjoy being an elementary teacher. It’s a new challenge – with 26 kids it’s like baptism with fire on how to manage them in a classroom setting,” he joked.

In the future, Hyslop said, “It would be cool to have a music studio in Madras to teach private lessons and sit around and jam.”

Din Huerta, at Warm Springs Elementary, said he grew up in Eastern Washington, and spent seven years teaching piano lessons in Portland. He studied music at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College, and has taken classical piano and composition classes from teachers during independent study.

“I understand kids a lot more than adults sometimes. I’m learning from the kids and having fun,” Huerta said of the 500 students he works with.

He started out by teaching students rhythm through drum circles, then moved on to teaching recorder and xylophone for third- and fourth-graders, guitar and keyboarding for fifth- and sixth-graders, along with general music, basic theory, and music in different cultures.

Rather than using a traditional instructor-student model, he encourages students to take a leadership role in their own education, “So they don’t feel inferior to a teacher,” he said.

Huerta said he is developing his own pedagogy called the “Master Student Method.” “It’s a little revolutionary. I teach music using as little formula as possible, and guide students toward visual and auditory patterns as they exist in music,” he said.

After school, he offers lessons for the violin, viola, guitar and piano. The Ethos Program is providing most of the instruments, he said.

Amanda Wyatt is in her second year with Ethos at Madras Primary. She has a degrees from George Fox University in music preteaching, and is pursuing a master’s degree in music education, possibly from Oregon State University.

With 375 students in kindergarten through second grades, she said she teaches a lot of singing, and after school offers piano, ukulele and percussion lessons.

The Ethos instructors have performed in the community in different group combinations. A trio performed at the Madras Saturday Market, and others played for a United Methodist Church event, and the Madras Primary Car Show fundraiser, she said.

At Buff Intermediate, Meaghan Russell, who grew up in Portland, said she joined Ethos because she enjoyed a previous experience of teaching children at a summer art camp and was interested in music education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.

At Buff, which has grades three through five, she is teaching the recorder to students to strengthen their music-reading skills. She is also teaching West African multi-rhythm drumming, as well as songs for the spring concert, slated for May 7, at 6 p.m.

After school, she offers group lessons on piano and guitar, and advanced recorder lessons.

Next year, Russell hopes to attend OSU to earn a master’s degree in music education.