Music teacher Martha Smith plays it forward

  • Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 12:45 a.m.

Much has been written about the benefits of music education for children. But what about the teachers? The Salisbury-Rowan Symphony Society asked its After-School Strings teachers why they play it forward.

Martha Shelton Smith has been a music educator for more than 33 years.

Her love of music was evident at an early age when she sang a solo in her kindergarten Christmas program. She began formal music study when she was 7 years old with piano lessons in Winston-Salem.

Music theory was the most enjoyable to her, probably because her teacher held theory game days and mini-recitals on Saturday mornings, with fresh donuts from her husband’s bakery. She continued to sing solos for weddings and church services during her high school years.

After graduating from Salem College with a degree in voice performance, Martha and her husband moved to Salisbury where she obtained her teaching certification from Catawba College.

While teaching in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System, she attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro to become certified in Level One Orff Certification.

She collaborated with another music teacher in leading summer workshops for academically gifted students of Rowan County, producing musicals and other culminating events.

While teaching at Knollwood Elementary, Martha established the fourth grade handbell choir, which performed at various civic dinners and local venues. She has had two publications in the national magazine “Music K-8,” and has been a presenter at various music education conferences.

In 2002, Martha became the first elementary music teacher in the Rowan-Salisbury School System to obtain National Board Certification, the first year of its availability. She has since led workshops to aid others in the writing of their portfolios.

Having no training except the strings teaching method class taken in college and studying harp for one year, Martha began assisting Anne Selletti in the after-school strings program at Knollwood Elementary.

After eight years of this hands-on experience, Martha began teaching, and loves seeing her students find the joy of making beautiful music on a stringed instrument. She has been with the after-school strings program now for years and plans on teaching strings for many years to come.

For more information about after-school strings classes, call 704-637-4314, or visit the symphony’s website: at

Note: This is the third in a series of short stories submitted by the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra to spotlight its teachers.

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