Amarnath directs passions into music education degree

· 4 min read

Amarnath directs passions into music education degree

Ananya Amarnath conducts the Papillion-La Vista South choir as they prepare for their spring performances.
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing
Ananya Amarnath, a May 2024 music education graduate, conducts the Papillion-La Vista South choir as they prepare for their spring performances.

Ananya Amarnath is ending her undergraduate career at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on a high note.

She will be among the thousands of Huskers participating in commencement on May 18 and receive a degree in music education from the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. This crescendo has been building as Amarnath’s path to a degree came with numerous academic challenges — which she overcame by remembering that she had the opportunity to pursue two of her passions.

“Everybody has an origin story, why you love music, why you love teaching,” she said. “Taking a second to reconnect with that and not lose that idea is really important.”

Amarnath’s introduction to music education was at age 5 when she started learning Indian classical music. As a small child, she also took lessons in Indian classical dance. Her younger sister also participated in the lessons, and Amarnath realized then that she loved helping her sister learn.

“This is something that has always been present in my life, so why don’t I just combine the two things I love doing and keep rolling with that,” she said.

She started in group singing lessons, but in middle school, Amarnath started playing the flute, which continued through her years at Elkhorn South High School. Watching her own teachers helped inspire Amarnath to pursue this career.

“I was seeing these great music educators around me, really leaning into my love for music and seeing that there’s more to it than just singing in a choir,” she said.

Amarnath just completed her student teaching at Papillion La Vista South High School, where she had the opportunity to learn from two instructors. She said they have a wealth of experience so she was grateful for the opportunity to pick both of their brains and grow from observing them, as well as apply lessons from them and her classes to real instruction.

“The two of them have two very different approaches to teaching, so I’ve been trying to figure out, seeing both, what I want my approach to be,” Amarnath said. “I just love watching them teach and they have such good relationships with their students.”

Outside the classroom, her music education major required Amarnath to learn the basics of playing several instruments, and her favorite additions were the saxophone and the oboe. She also participated in multiple university choirs, including University Chorale, University Singers, Chamber Singers and i2 Choir.

“I really appreciate having those as a requirement, to take a break from the coursework aspect and just make music,” she said.

Although she enjoyed those opportunities, Amarnath has also had to push through failing and retaking classes, blocking off enough time to practice and other typical challenges students face. Leaning on peers and upperclassmen for advice and support was vital to making it through her time at Nebraska U, she said, as was reminding herself of her goals and reasons for continuing to work toward her degree.

“I think a lot of people get lost,” Amarnath said. “They think, ‘There’s a lot of coursework, this isn’t making sense, I’m not succeeding,’ because they’re not seeing their progress and they’re not thinking about the ‘why.’”

Now that she’s fought through the challenges and is preparing to receive her diploma, Amarnath wants students to remember they will face adversity, but it doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in the future. If she could speak to her past self as she was entering college, Amarnath would tell herself it’s OK to struggle.

“You are going to fall on your face, because everyone does,” Amarnath said. “At this point I’m more sure of who I am and I don’t think that would have happened if I had not done all the things I have done at UNL.”

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