People ask me all the time what gave me the idea to start this business, and why did I decide to leave a full-time teaching job to give this a try. Well, the idea of teaching homeschooled students came about when I asked some homeschooling families what they did for music. Some took private lessons, some attended a co-op where there was some type of instruction led by a parent, and some just listened to music on a CD. Having been a music teacher for a number of years, acquiring “tricks of the trade” from attending workshops, observing other music specialists, and also creating my own lessons, I realized that I had the necessary tools to bring a valuable music enrichment to the hundreds of homeschooled students in my area. Using hand-held percussion and small Orff instruments, scarves, puppets, visual notation aids, and lots of fun lessons and ideas, I grabbed my guitar and knew that I could come up with some type of “portable classroom” to take all over the Jacksonville area. And that is basically how this unique, one-of-a-kind concept turned into a business!
Music has been a part of my life from the very beginning, and I love to share my passion for it with children. As a child, my first most-prized possession was a record player, and I loved to sing and dance to the music that constantly poured from its speakers. I eventually took piano lessons, and would also learn how to play the guitar and the drums. Church was a wonderful place to use my musical abilities, and, since I entertained myself by learning to play any song I knew by ear, I substituted for the church pianist for the first time when I was ten years old! During our high school years, my youngest sister and I would get the opportunity to play a church carillon every Friday afternoon after the five o’clock chime, and our music would ring out all over town!
As a graduate of Jacksonville University, I earned a Bachelor of Music Education in 1990. My major concentration included education courses and piano study, with a minor concentration in percussion. A member of the North Florida Orff Chapter since 2003, I have attended workshops each year to stay current on effective teaching methods, gain professional development, and share lesson plans and ideas with other area teachers.
As the lower-school music director (PK-5th grades) for The Bolles School, I began teaching classroom music in 1999. I have also taught in a private piano program since 1989. Jax4Kids Best of 2010 Survey named me Best Piano Teacher and Best Music Lessons for The Bolles School.
I have sung and performed on piano, guitar, bass guitar, and percussion for various church activities, weddings, receptions, camps, and miscellaneous events. I have also written over 100 original songs for school plays, drama camps, Relay for Life, and personal interests. One hundred forty-four of these songs are copyrighted by the Library of Congress.
So why do I believe music education is so important? Music is not only a study in itself, but studying it has also been proven to equip students with skills that touch all other parts of their curriculum, and music education is linked very closely to academic success. While it can be expressive, it is a methodical system that supports the study of language arts, literacy, science, math, and physical coordination. It can also stimulate creativity and increase the ability to problem solve. And it just makes happier kids!
“Andrea’s daily lessons are creative, well planned, and full of movement and fun. It is so wonderful to see our students actually enjoy going to music! Andrea Duke . . . a true gift to our lower school students!” –Carol Imfeld, Lower School Principal, The Bolles School
“For ten years I had the pleasure of observing Andrea Duke interact with and teach young kids music at The Bolles School. Her motherly approach and “soft” personal demeanor truly creates a nurturing environment where kids are highly receptive to instruction and class interaction. Andrea is first-class and a professional in every way. Integrity abounds with her pedagogical approach which is informed by her many years of experience as a highly successful music educator. Without a doubt, Andrea Duke is the type of person parents will want their kids with for enriching music lessons and experiences in the arts!!” –Don Zentz, Director of Fine and Performing Arts, The Bolles School
“Andrea is a gifted music teacher, piano player and song writer helping to produce a multitude of class productions over the years…… Andrea’s music classes offered a wide variety of age appropriate activities and instruction for 4 year olds through fifth grade. Children were exposed to a wide variety of instruments, music reading and music history. Games and hands on experience were included making her classes a vibrant and exciting place to be. Class visitations and evaluation always resulted in glowing reports…… Andrea will bring to a new position a wealth of experience, a love and understanding of children and enthusiasm second to none.” -Fred Scott, Former Head of Lower School, The Bolles School
“Andrea brought significant expansion and improvement in the quality of our music programs throughout her tenure. Her students clearly enjoyed their music activities and that enjoyment was reflected in their enthusiastic and high quality performances in front of packed houses at events on both campuses throughout the year. Many of those performances were original and unique theatrical productions for which she provided both music and lyrics….Andrea is a dedicated and hardworking professional. She is liked and respected by her peer faculty and parents, as indeed she is by her students. She always represents The Bolles School well, both professionally and personally.” -Dr. John Trainer, Former Head of School, The Bolles School