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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Esther Liu Harris

Middle and Upper School Choral Director

Know Your Pelicans

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

Packer supports teacher professional growth, creates space for community members to discuss important social issues, and encourages students and faculty to challenge themselves.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

As I sat at my desk, I could hear singing from the hallway. A minor chord sung in solfège syllables caught my attention: strains of "Stabat Mater" by Zoltán Kodály. I recognized the singers as my Upper School choral students. I did not want to disturb their focus so I just listened. They stopped a few times to speak to each other, then resumed singing. They talked about which physical movements would go well with the melodic lines and dynamics. The students did lip-trill warm-ups using a few phrases from the piece. I was touched that they would practice the piece together on their own. Later that day, one of the students told me that they were surprised that they were able to find their starting pitches from the minor chord and practice the piece so successfully without me. He said the group would definitely meet again for another informal rehearsal!

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

Edward Elgar's "Salut d'Amour Op.12" awakens my sensitivity to life's experiences, promotes connectedness to others, and reminds me to be thankful every day that I am very blessed to have an amazing family! I can hear and feel the deepest human joy and longing for beauty!

What are some things that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

Before I became a teacher, I used to work in finance in Hong Kong, my birthplace. It was fun but teaching is more meaningful and exciting to me.

Outside of Packer, I teach at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University and in the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School. I will soon earn my doctoral degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. I just got an article published in the American Music Educators Journal and will be presenting a workshop at a national music conference in March.

I love to eat all types of food — food is an adventure for me. Food can deepen your understanding of cultures and the people who you are sharing the food with!

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