Instrumental Music Teacher
Greetings! My name is Cheryl Suwardi, and I teach instrumental music. I have 21 years of teaching experience, bachelors and masters degrees in music education, an Indiana music teacher license, and a California music teacher credential.
My teaching experience includes school music teaching and music studio teaching. I have taught elementary, middle, and high school band and orchestra, high school piano, elementary general music, high school music appreciation, and lessons for strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, guitar, and mandolin. I started the orchestra programs at two schools in Orange County, CA, and I restarted the orchestra program at one school in Chicago. I continued building the band program in my most recent school district beginning in my high school's second year after band was restarted and continued teaching the band program until the school closed. I am now the director of bands and department chair at the new high school. As an IB Music Teacher, I designed the IB MYP Music syllabi and curricula that were approved by the IBO for two schools. I have also organized and directed school, district, and community performances and worked in partnership with school, college, professional, and community organizations to enhance student learning.
Music education has a profound impact upon children’s lives, educational development, and social development. Through learning music, students develop compassion, self-expression, identity, self-esteem, kinesthetic awareness, coordination, increased memory capacity, improved mathematical ability, enhanced reading and comprehension skills, better concentration, leadership ability, friendships, and many other academic, personal, and social and emotional benefits. I would not be where I am today without the exceptional teachers who taught me throughout my years of school.
I have witnessed the profound impact education has upon students. I have integrated social and emotional learning as well as trauma-invested schools techniques to inspire students to achieve things they never dreamed possible. My students find a caring, nurturing classroom where we discuss performance, they make connections, and they create music. Our classroom goes beyond its four walls to perform in the school, community, and outside of our community. We have field trips to Chicago to hear world-class performances, Indianapolis to see music and colleges in the Circle City Classic, and colleges and universities. During our VanderCook College of Music field trips, my students toured the school, performed in the Day of Percussion and 2021 Dallas Brass Honor Band Festival, participated in master classes (during field trips and virtually), and performed in the 2020 VanderCook College of Music Alumni Concert with the Symphonic Band. Giving my students opportunities both in school and as field trips is important to my educational philosophy so together with my administrators, I have been able to prepare my students and bring them to Indiana State University’s All-Star Honor Band to rehearse and perform with the high school honor band, to rehearse and march with the Indiana All-Star Marching Band in the Indy 500 Parade, and perform in the United States Marine Band’s Stars and Stripes Together Virtual 4th of July performance. It’s been a joy and honor to do these.
I believe that a quality program is built upon what happens in the classroom. Therefore, I plan engaging standards-based lessons to meet student needs, establish classroom procedures that enable students to learn well, encourage and motivate my students, and invite students to be part of our music program during lunch, after-school, and in the summer. I encourage my students to set goals, practice at home, and follow their passions in choosing their paths after high school.
At the end of last school year, I reflected with current students and alumni as our school closed. Some of the comments my students shared with me were:
• My favorite memories are meeting all of the amazing people in my band class and having an amazing teacher to teach me the clarinet and give me the opportunity to play the clarinet and do amazing things this school year! I’m also happy I was able to come back to school for the last month and a half. ~ Freshman
• My favorite band memories are the after-school practicing I participated in and helping out with the packing. I love the performances with the Marching Band Parades. I love the Christmas performances of the Polar Express and the time I spent practicing the piece. I enjoy the football game performances and helping others out. ~ Sophomore
• Mrs. Suwardi, I really appreciate how much you helped me through all my school years in band. I like how you motivate all your students and push them to be successful. I will continue to work on being early for things and not late because next time it will be too late. Thank you very much and have a wonderful summer. ~ Senior
• You were definitely the best band director I’ve had. You really showed me the meaning of having a passion for something and for that I will be forever grateful. Other students would be very lucky to have you in the future. ~ Class of 2019 Alumnus
Recognition and Accomplishments:
National Society of High School Scholars Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction (2021)
Music in the Parks - 1st Place, Concert Band 1AA, Six Flags Great America (May 17-18, 2019)
NWI Times Band of the Week (2017)
Featured as an educator in The Savvy Music Teacher: Blueprint for Maximizing Income and Impact by David Cutler (pub. 2015)
Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (2005)