Natalie Smith

executive director

flute and early childhood music

Except for an 18 month foray to Atlanta and then Charlotte, NC, I have lived in Athens since 1999. I came to Athens to attend music school at the University of Georgia, earning a bachelor's degree in music theory and master's degree in flute performance. During my graduate work, I became more familiar with the city of Athens, outside university walls, playing jazz and Latin music in the many great restaurants and clubs in Athens.

 

When I returned to Athens in 2007, after my brief foray, I was pregnant with my first daughter, Lorelei. Being a parent in Athens gave me a new lens through which to see this beautiful town. When Lorelei was 3, she attended Emmanuel Episcopal Day School, and I became a substitute teacher to earn a little extra money, supplementing playing gigs and teaching private piano and flute lessons. I didn’t know it at the time, but this began a new chapter in my life. The next year, I became an assistant teacher at EEDS and fell in love with teaching young children.

 

After the birth of my younger daughter, Sylvia, I began teaching music at EEDS in addition to maintaining my assistant teacher role. Teaching music to those kids opened my eyes to the possibilities of greater learning through music: learning how to express oneself, how to communicate with each other, how to work together toward a common goal. All of these things people knew before I did, but for me another layer of learning and growth was unfolding, one that was more personal, individual, intrinsic: the potential for a child to be proud of her- or himself, to develop self-confidence and work toward a goal of personal excellence through the study of music. These are the underlying skills that can pave the way for successful academic learning, creating healthy interpersonal relationships, and expressing gratitude through support of community.

 

These realizations prompted me to start my own early childhood music program called Music with Natalie. I now teach music to preschool and early elementary age kids, in addition to maintaining an active career as a professional flutist and private teacher. I am principal flutist of the Gwinnett Ballet Theater Orchestra, the Georgia Ballet Orchestra, and the GAMAC Chamber Orchestra in Anderson, SC, and I substitute regularly with the Albany Symphony. I also play in Athens-based Brazilian Forró band Bichos Vivos.

 

HEART Music is the result of my and my husband Brian’s efforts to make high quality music education accessible to everyone in the community. We strongly believe in the power of music to positively influence a person’s life and improve society as a whole!