boehm_02Carol Boehm recently won Yale School of Music’s Distinguished Music Educators award. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


The bell rings at Red Bank Primary School Monday morning and Carol Boehm immediately springs her second grade class into action, leading a cadence, “1-2-3, S-I-T on the R-U-G.”

The students, dressed in the school’s prescribed red, white and black, plop to the floor and turn their heads to Boehm, who’s pointing to a treble clef on the whiteboard.

The day’s lesson is “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and after a brief refresher identifying the notes on the board, Boehm pulls out four xylophones and breaks the kids into groups for a half-hour of repetition — which more or less means Boehm’s eyes are darting across the room, looking for mallets straying from the song’s notes of B-A-G-D, or praising a student here and there for sitting patiently while waiting for his turn.

“I like to think I challenge my students a lot,” said Boehm, who’s taught music at the primary school for nine years. She’s got something to show for her work. At this point in the school year, the second grade class can read music with no problem. And Monday, they were all playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with two hands.

These are small victories when framed against an entire year of lessons, but are part and parcel of Boehm’s classroom accomplishments that have been recognized on a higher level. More →