Passing notes: Orchestra teacher shares love of music

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nicola Rohr started learning the piano at about 5 years old; first, her mother taught her, and then she moved on to piano lessons, furthering her love for music.

Rohr went on to join choir and band in school. She started learning the cello, and before she knew it, she was off to the University of Kentucky to turn her love for music into a career.

Rohr, a Georgetown native, is now an orchestra teacher at Clark County Public Schools. She teaches classes at Baker Intermediate School, Campbell Junior High School and George Rogers Clark High School.

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“It can be a little hectic,” Rohr said. “ … I would say the most challenging part is working in three different schools … but it’s also my favorite part.”

She graduated from UK in 2013 with a bachelor’s in music education with an emphasis on piano and cello.

She was also involved in teaching orchestra through UK’s String Project, which provides low-cost instrument instruction on violin, viola, cello and bass for children from age 8 and up, according to its website. The teachers are UK music students working with the assistance of experienced mentor teachers.

“I did that three years while I was studying,” Rohr said. “The UK String Project was where I got my first teaching experience. That’s why I wanted to become a teacher.”

Rohr has now been teaching for six years. CCPS was her first teaching gig out of college.

Rohr said she loves teaching students as young as fifth grade as well as high school students.

She said she enjoys seeing improvement among her students as well as sharing her love for music.

“I like getting to make music every day,” she said.

Rohr said she also loves preparing for the annual Christmas concert, and the community concert at Leeds Center for the Arts.

“I love collaborating with the other music teachers,” Rohr said.

Among the many technical goals she has for her students, Rohr said she would love to see the music program get out into the community more.

“Overall, I would for us to have more of a presence in the community,” she said.

Of course, Rohr said, she always sets a goal for her students to receive high marks at Kentucky Music Educators Association assessments. This year, all three CCPS orchestras received a KMEA distinguished rating, which is the only time the orchestra gets a “letter grade,” Rohr said.

“We had three students make (KMEA All-State Orchestra), and six students make the honors middle school orchestra which is good,” she said.

Practice is critical when it comes to music, Rohr said.

“You get out what you put in,” Rohr said.

About 150 students are involved with the music programs at CCPS, but Rohr said she would love to see it grow.

“It’s come a long way,” Rohr said.

Outside of school and playing music, Rohr enjoys hiking, traveling and painting. She is a fan of classical and chamber music. Some of her favorites include Beethoven, Dmitri Shostakovich and Punch Brothers, an American quintet with a style The New York Times describes as “American country-classical chamber music.”

Rohr said music education is important, and she’s glad CCPS backs the arts.

“I like it for all the things it teaches other than music,” she said. “It teaches you the importance of work ethic, and it teaches you how to be a part of the team. It teaches you a lot of the same things a sports program teaches you. But one of my favorite parts about music is it works all parts of your brain … it engages all parts of your brain. So it trains you to be a better student, not in just music but all subjects.

“ … I also think it’s important for students to experience a variety, different career paths … It would be really sad if there weren’t any music or arts in the schools.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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