Emery retires from teaching music after 42 years


DIXFIELD — Margaret Emery was expected to become a music teacher. Afterall, her brothers and sisters were all music teachers. But at first, she didn’t want to. She wanted to sing with bands.

In June, she will retire from Dirigo Middle School where she taught voice and instruments as well as helped direct school musicals.

It’s been 42 years in the profession, with most in either Dirigo or nearby SAD 36 in Livermore Falls.

And she’s glad that she followed her family’s advice.

“Once I started doing it, I found that I liked it,” she said from her classroom as two young students came in to seek advice on their roles in the school’s upcoming musical, “Dear Edwina.”

Emery, 65, has loved introducing the various musical genres to students from kindergarten through grade 12 over the years. Besides teaching at Dirigo and Livermore Falls, she has also taught in Vassalboro, Brunswick and Bucksport.

She graduated from the Northern Conservatory of Music in Bangor in 1967.

Anyone who becomes a music teacher must learn to play at least two instruments from each of the four instrumental families — brass, strings, woodwinds and percussion. Her favorite is the piano.

She has particularly liked teaching children to use their voices, which she did for the first eight years of her career. Then she taught several instruments.

“The kids got so excited about it,” she said. “I’ve found many talented kids. Some have gone on to music school or some other kind of musical mission.”

When students sometimes object to the “old fogeys” like Bach or Beethoven, she asks them to let the music speak to them, and many times they do.

“It makes me happy when they go away humming a tune,” she said.

Her favorite music includes the Baroque composers, such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, because their work is so full of thought, she said. But she also likes the Big Band sounds and Broadway musicals.

With a busy life that included raising three children while teaching, Emery has had little time to get out to attend such performances or to perform herself.

All that is expected to change once she retires.

She may or may not move from Livermore Falls to her childhood hometown of Howland. She will visit the family camp in Enfield. And she will most certainly get involved in anything musical.

“I will look for a musical group, a community chorus or orchestra, church music,” she said.

When the school year ends next month, she’ll be sorry to leave. But she believes it will be much worse when the new year begins in the fall, and she won’t be preparing for classes.

“I love my kids. The best part of being a teacher is being able to teach,” she said.

[email protected]