by Angelina Hu
Mrs. Ieda has been a part of the music department at East for five years, and this year, she has completely taken over teaching the Symphonic and Philharmonic orchestras.
She has been in contact with music her entire life– growing up in Pennsylvania, her parents were both pianists, and she chose to play violin in 3rd grade because she wished to do something different.
She can vividly remember working with a new violin teacher in seventh grade, who, in one of their first lessons, asked her, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” She immediately answered, without hesitation, “I want to be an orchestra teacher.” She considers that perhaps this was a “self fulfilling prophecy.”
“I’ve had wonderful teachers throughout the years and great opportunities in music. I made that decision and I never looked back, never once regretted it,” she says. She knew she wanted to stay in a school environment and she loved music– being a music teacher was perfect for her, and a culmination of her hard work led to the fulfillment of her dream.
Mrs. Ieda graduated from college in Pennsylvania and moved to Western New YorkWNY in 2000 for her first job teaching at a Jamestown high school. She’s moved through many schools over the years; one particular Lackawanna charter school stood out to her. “We did a modified Suzuki style with all students in the whole building,” she recounts. “It was K-5 at the time, and every kid played the violin! Now that’s a conversation in itself, you know– no viola, no cello, no bass, and no option, they had to play the violin. But I have fond memories of that time, teaching those little kids.”
In addition, she also taught 4th and 5th graders at Sweethome for a while before coming to Williamsville. “I feel like I’ve taught at all levels, you know,” she says. “from little kids all the way to advanced high school students.” The sheer difference of providing a foundation for a little child to arranging highly refined high school recitals is a testament to her flexibility in fitting into the occasion.
She once played with the WNY Chamber Orchestra from Fredonia as well, on top of being a freelance violinist and violist. A few years ago, she even got to play on the same stage as Hans Zimmer, the composer for many popular movie scores, in Canandaigua! They got to play music from films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lion King. Also, in 2019, she got to play with The Who, a popular English band, at the KeyBank Center. She has an extraordinary amount of experience in the world of music from all throughout her life.
When asked about her favorite thing about teaching orchestra, Mrs. Ieda replied, “The sense of community that we have in a group, that feeling of belonging– not just playing your part and fitting in and making music together, but really the friendships you develop sitting next to each other in ensembles, and the bonds that occur.” She enjoys interacting with her students more than anything.
That sentiment is shared by said students; James Liu, a junior in the Philharmonic Orchestra, says, “Her teaching is pretty good; she runs through different topics like rhythm and the circle of fifths and intervals throughout the year. You get better at music as a whole, rather than just the pieces you do in class.” An anonymous member of the Symphonic Orchestra also addeds on, “She’s very nice and thoughtful to her students. Orchestra is a great relaxer in the morning.”
Outside of school, Mrs. Ieda mostly fills her time with music. She says that she doesn’t tend to have too much free time; other than playing various odd jobs on occasion, her family also often plays as a quartet. Her husband and daughter play the violin, her son plays the cello, and she plays viola. The arrangement opens up many opportunities for them– they once went to Saint Lucia together to host a week-long workshop for a group of children there, teaching them about music and playing in ensemble together.
But on the off chance that she does have some downtime, she enjoys hobbies such as running. She especially likes doing 5Ks. She also does some gardening, as well as cooking.
When asked about what her favorite thing to cook was, she says it would have to be soup, because, “it’s hard to make.” Mrs. Ieda is the type of person who steps up to challenges; from swapping teaching positions so often to learning how to handle children of all ages to playing at major events, she has adapted to each challenge and enjoyed them along the way.
She is a very inspirational figure in that sense; she wants to teach, and she actively motivates her students to work hard and do their best. She took what she loved as a child and turned it into a career, and filled her life with it, and she aims to help guide others to do the same.
When talking about all the different things she’s done in the world of music, Mrs. Ieda told me, “I love the word opportunity,” and opportunity is exactly what she strives to give her students.