Dedicated music teacher Melissa Noonan reaches students inside and outside of the classroom

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Southeast High School Choir Director Melissa Noonan poses in front of choir shirts from the past.

Benjamin Sommerich, Sports Editor

Melissa Noonan is a choir director for Lincoln Southeast High School (LSE). She currently directs the Court Choir, Royal Court, Ars Nova, Bel Canto, and Knight Sounds ensembles. She began student teaching choirs in 1989. 

In her free time, Noonan enjoys interior decorating and do-it-yourself projects. She even writes a blog about home decoration and care. She also likes reading, traveling, and cooking. 

When it comes to teaching high school, she sometimes finds it difficult to adjust to how much more time is needed outside of school to get things done. Forms, paperwork, meetings, and many smaller tasks outside of the classroom have become necessary for education. 

According to Noonan, the best part of teaching is “the students”. After long summers away from school, she loves returning to class and seeing students again.

“First day of school, when I see students again, it’s like yes, this is why I do what I do. And I love it,” she said.

Noonan has been involved in music for her whole life, ever since her childhood. The home she grew up in was very musical, and everyone was always singing. She began taking piano lessons in fourth grade, because her and her siblings were all expected to take at least one year of piano. She was also involved in voice lessons, band, school choir, and church choirs. 

“It really always has been a part of my life in some way or form,” she said. 

In college, she didn’t start out as a music major, but she ended up missing the music in her life. She felt an emptiness when she didn’t have that musical outlet, so she changed majors. 

However, music has changed for her since she started teaching it. Now, she always listens carefully and analytically to all the music she hears, listening for how it can be improved or what can be taught from it, even if she’s not on the job. Contrarily, she finds that her own choir concerts are the places where she can sometimes let go and enjoy the music the most. 

“Once in a while, things are going so well, and I can tell myself, okay, let them go. I don’t have to control it anymore, I don’t have to manage it anymore, because they’re singing so beautifully,” she said.

For anyone interested in teaching music in the future, her advice is to follow your passion, but to also fully understand what a music major entails. At the high school level, it’s all performance based, so students get to focus mainly on learning different kinds of music and performing it. However, at the college level, a music major includes a ton of music theory, ear training, music history, and other difficult subjects that can sometimes catch people by surprise. 

Noonan says that the best advice she has ever received is to stay true to yourself. “I can learn techniques and I can learn strategies, and different ways of doing things, but it has to be through who I am. Otherwise, I am of no value to you,” Noonan said.