Mrs. Jody Lang-Smith shares the love of singing and song with our students everyday. She has the difficult job of getting even the shyest student to find their voice. Here are some things about Mrs. Smith you probably didn’t know.
When people ask what you do on a day-today basis, how would you describe being a music teacher?
I usually say, “It’s a lot of fun”. I give thanks everyday to be at Ensworth, sharing music and sharing the lives of such extraordinary students.
You are a trained opera singer, correct? How did you get into that?
I would phrase it as a “trained classical singer” rather than an opera singer. I was invited to sing with the Nashville Opera a few years ago, but I couldn’t work it into my schedule. I am eager to have my opera debut, soon! I’ve performed with the Nashville Symphony Chorus, singing with the Nashville Symphony. It was a beautiful experience.
I suppose that I started singing when I was a kid on my parents’ dairy farm in Ohio. I would be doing my chores, always singing as I was feeding cows or washing milk equipment. It became a bit of a joke in my family, which was annoying to me at the time, but now I look back and see that I’m just “wired” to be the way that I am.
As a kid I was very unfamiliar with opera. It was just loud and crazy to me, and who knew what it was about? We had a great music education program at my school, where I played trumpet in the band. This led the way for me to get a scholarship for college with the trumpet. I paid for college with a trumpet scholarship, an academic scholarship, and working as a custodian for the college at night. I sang while I cleaned, staying consistent with my past habits.
I was always interested in singing so I began to take voice lessons as somewhat of a minor. I kept with it, continuing lessons even as I worked at Ensworth with a Nashville opera teacher. It’s amazing what you can discover about your own voice when you have someone to help you. I used to think that I was an “alto” because I like to harmonize. I am actually a soprano, I just didn’t know how to get those high notes without a little help.
I play trumpet, sing, and play piano professionally. Asking a music teacher that question is fairly tricky, because we are really trained on all of them. Literally,we take classes at a basic level on all of band and orchestra instruments.That’s what made being a music education major so fun. That doesn’t mean I’m wonderful at all of them. Though, I’m interested in learning how to play jazz drums. I’ve played around with the guitar…either I need new strings or I’m a wimp, because I don’t like the callouses I get on my fingers with guitar.
The truth is that I have a big heart for middle school students. I am somewhat like them, excited about life and always trying to grow and understand myself. The most challenging thing about middle school kids and choir is keeping them feeling like it’s “cool”, especially when it is somewhat of a mandatory subject in school. They are so very concerned about what their peers think. If the “mass” decides this or that thing is not cool, the chorus is in trouble. I try to make it a fun thing to pursue. My goal is to make doing a good job a “cool” thing.
I know your son keeps you pretty busy on the weekends, what are some of your favorite family outings in Nashville?
I love doing anything with my family. We have a big, goofy, black lab, and many of our activities involve our “Jerry”. We take Jerry for walks around our neighborhood every night, and enjoy taking him to the dog park on occasion. Last weekend we walked around Centennial Park and enjoyed the beautiful spring flowers. I love to go to musical events at TPAC or the Schermerhorn, and of course I just enjoy going to the movies or shopping at the mall with friends.
You know, it sounds a bit self-centered, but I would like to be a fly in my own classroom. I would like to perceive my classroom as a student might, and view it objectively. I would like to see things as students see them, and hear what students hear. I think it would be so very helpful!
Who from the high school campus would you like to see featured next?
I would love to hear from Ron Walker, the bus driver! He’s such a great guy. I’d also like to hear from Donnie Bryan or Will Hester.