Noor Sandhu (M.Ed., Music & Music Education) | Teachers College Columbia University

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Noor Sandhu (M.Ed., Music & Music Education)

Noor Sandhu (M.Ed., Music & Music Education)
Life before TC
Born in India to parents who met while working in the hotel industry, Sandhu subsequently lived and went to school in Nepal and China. As she recounted in her commencement speech, she experienced the British education system in India and Nepal, American in Beijing, and International Baccalaureate programs at the Shanghai American School.

The strength of the American system, she believes, lies not in its ability to impart knowledge but instead in how it teaches students to apply – and question – what they learn. Teachers in the American system, in turn, learn “how to educate, shape, mentor—engage in process with their students,” and to “fight for the education you want your students to have.”

Why TC
A singer of opera and other classical music, Sandhu holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Sarah Lawrence College and a master’s in classical vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music. She came to TC to learn how to teach voice.

TC Takeaway
In one TC class in music education, Sandhu and her classmates—all pre-service teachers and musicians—had to create an exercise for their students in playing a piece of music without using standard notation. Initially they were stumped, but eventually they created a lesson using drawings, arrows, letters and squiggly lines. “TC teaches you to use whole different aspects of your brain,” Sandhu says. “It teaches you to move outside your comfort zone, which I think is crucial.

“I love the TC vibe, the messiness and the scramble of study that encourages this risk-taking and continued questioning, so we don’t accept things at face value just because they’ve been done before, just because someone says we have to. We are exposed to this kind of environment in our classrooms so we know how to shape it and craft it in our own classrooms when we leave.”

What’s Next

Sandhu’s next stop: teaching K-5 music in an American International school in Abu Dhabi.

Published Wednesday, Jun. 4, 2014