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Meridian music teacher brings pop and classical together in the classroom

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Inside Dave Gabbard’s classroom at Hillsdale Elementary, you will hear Beethoven and Mozart, along with high-energy hits like Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway.”

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

Inside the classroom 104 at Hillsdale Elementary School in Meridian, you will likely find music and orchestra teacher Dave Gabbard in front of his students, conducting with energy and passion. 

Gabbard teaches students in preschool, all the way up to fifth grade – but it is not your typical music class. 

While you will still hear the sweet sounds of Beethoven and Mozart, performances of more current pieces heard on the radio will also ring aloud. 

“The last concert we did a piece by Dave Matthews Band called ‘Ants Marching,’ and the arrangement was my string players played the fiddle part, and the singers sang the singing part,” Gabbard said with a laugh. 

The Hillsdale students have also performed “A Sky Full Of Stars” from Coldplay, as well as songs from Tim McGraw, One Direction, One Republic and Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway.”

“My philosophy of teaching is that my job is to inspire and motivate those students to want to do more different types of music in the future,” Gabbard said. “If I can create a musical experience to my concerts, that gives them something really big to remember that they did with Mr. Gabbard in elementary school, then I think my job is done, to have them go on and hopefully have a love of music for the rest of their lives.”

On top of being “a really good teacher,” Gabbard is also a musician. He sings, plays the violin and viola, and he strings along that experience in every lesson.

“When I’m teaching my kids, I’m aware what inspired me to be a musician and a music teacher,” Gabbard said. “I try to give them those same kinds of musical experiences so that they can maybe one day go off and do it themselves.”

Gabbard told KTVB his favorite part of his role is watching a student grow close to a song, to the point they are proud to perform it.

“I do like that transition of having students learn a song that maybe they didn’t initially latch onto, but then they it really grows on them,” Gabbard said. “Then when we get to the concert, and they pull it off, and they see how awesome it was to sing it – not just with their classroom – in the music, but in a concert situation.”

There, all the right notes are hit with the students and their parents.

One student told KTVB Gabbart is “just fun and energetic, and he always seems to have something planned that would brighten up somebody’s day.”

Gabbart’s passion for seeing his students succeed – and have fun – is obvious.

“That moment when they all bring it together and they’re all performing, it’s the best,” Gabbart said.

On May 15, Gabbard and his fifth-grade music students will perform a flash mob at the new Albertsons on Eagle Road and Amity Road in Meridian.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org..
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