UT alumnus, English professor and Music Director Anthony Greer would never have guessed he’d be returning to his alma mater to teach. However, he does come from a large family of UT instructors. “My grandfather, grandmother, and great-uncle taught here until 1999, and my father is retiring this year. I applied in 2015 without high expectations, and I was surprised when I got the call! I have loved my time at UT and couldn’t imagine teaching anywhere else.”
UT is lucky to have him. School arts budgets have been on the chopping block, especially due to COVID-19 restrictions and cutbacks. Not to mention college art majors are on the decline. A recent pool at American University shows its music majors down a whopping 64% over the past five years. It seems passionate and qualified music leaders in the school system are getting harder and harder to find. Especially multi-talented leaders who can wear many hats. “I am an English teacher during the day, but I am also our Assistant Marching Band Director, Concert Band Assistant, Speech Coach, and Musical Director.” His guidance directs some of the most talented musicians at UT.
“Mr. Greer goes above & beyond what is required. During the spring & summer of 2020, when the world was standing still, he found a way to keep the theater department moving forward & connected. He offered weekly virtual meetings & several different masterclasses. He also broke the marching band into smaller sections so they could safely meet & keep their basic skills sharp. His passion & care for his students is evident by his actions.” Stephanie Rohmans said, whose daughter is in the marching band at UT.
“It is an incredible feeling to be creating music and performance art in the same school I attended. Over the last seven years, I have learned how to run a show and help students to create music. A lot of people think that music is easy because they ‘just sing’ or ‘just play an instrument.’ I love it when people come to performances and realize the amount of work these students put into the product and how much they learned overall.” Greer said. These students, many of whom wouldn’t have a creative outlet elsewhere if it weren’t for Greer’s programming.
“Mr. Greer has a heart for teaching. He truly cares and encourages us in every way. He is an example of what all teachers should be. I aspire to be the kind of person and teacher he is myself. We made t-shirts that say ‘We are Greer’ because we love him so much! He always has a great sense of humor.” Samantha Skinner, one of Greer’s students and a member of the colorguard, said.
American music education started in Boston in the 1830s. First with vocal instruction, then instrumental music several decades later. Today, the arts in K-12 schools include music, visual arts, dance, theater, and design. Music education, still an elective course, has proven time and again to help students in other areas of their studies. From enhanced concentration to better-developed problem-solving skills, these students excel from more than just behind the music stand. One study showed that students who took four years of music instruction scored up to 90 points higher on the SAT compared to students who took only one semester or less. Music can also lead to increased confidence, stronger social bonding with peers, and a sense of responsibility. In another recent study, it was found that parents with children in music lessons discovered their kids had a more remarkable ability to finish tasks. Numerous scientific studies have shown that playing a musical instrument can improve problem-solving and organizational skills in children. That means higher verbal and reasoning scores. Additionally, parents with children in music lessons found their kids had a greater ability to self-monitor screen time.
“Mr. Greer has been one of the most influential people in my high school career. I have never had him as a teacher, but he has been my coach in many extracurricular activities for four years now. He has always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, and this has been instrumental in helping me build my self-confidence. Mr. Greer is very heavily involved with the fine arts at UT, and in every activity he steps into, he is dedicated to his students. He will always find a place for anyone who wants to get involved. I am truly blessed to have such an encouraging person in my life, and I am grateful for all that he has taught me.” Kate Rohman, a saxophone player and drum major in the marching band, said.
Greer works with both instrumental and vocal students at UT.
“Right now we are in the middle of our spring musical The Addams Family. I am directing and teaching vocal music. Throughout this process, students will learn how to sing in various vocal styles as well as translate that to a live performance on stage.” Greer said.
Students go through an audition process and then have hours of practice memorizing songs and choreography before the performances.
Even former students have nothing but rave reviews to give of their time with Greer.
“Some of my best memories from high school revolve around Greer. I got to do two shows with him. He was so welcoming and really gave me a love for theater. When I was a junior in high school, I decided to take a leap and try out for the musical, and Greer was willing to take a chance on me by giving me the lead in that year’s musical. I was so excited, but also nervous! Greer is so welcoming and makes the theater department something extra special, not only for me but for everyone.” Faith McCubbin, now a Junior at St. Ambrose, said.
A musician himself, Greer has been studying music for over two decades.
“I have been studying music for about 23 years. This started with formal lessons, elementary and middle school chorus, and band at various levels. I played the trumpet for 19 years, and I have been a singer for 25. I also dabble in the piano. At UT, I was in the marching band (trumpet, mellophone, and drum major), concert/symphonic bands, jazz choir, and madrigal choir. I also did five school musicals (called up my 8th-grade year). I was also a music major for a few years in college, which included studio lessons, performance opportunities, etc. I continued to play after I changed majors,” Greer said.
And change majors he did. Greer has several degrees.
“I went to Illinois State University and studied English Education with minors in Music and Spanish,” Greer said. “I’ve recently completed an MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governors University, and I am in the middle of a MA in English from Western Illinois University.”
Greer is no stranger to the spotlight himself.
“I sang in the Quad City Singers for five years, but I had to take a step back due to a growing family,” Greer said. I am consistently involved in Quad City Music Guild and was on the board (as secretary) until January, when my second 3-year term ended. As of now, I am auditions co-chair, concessions co-chair, and play selection co-chair. I am not in a show this summer due to the recent birth of my daughter but will be on stage again soon.”
Greer’s philosophy is simple but effective in instilling the love and appreciation of music in his students.