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Natalie Smith

Executive Director, Co-Founder, early childhood music Teacher

Except for an 18 month foray to Atlanta and then Charlotte, NC, I have lived in Athens since 1999. I came to Athens to attend music school at the University of Georgia, earning the degrees of bachelor of music theory and master of flute performance, and then returned to Athens because I love this town. During my graduate work, I became more familiar with the city of Athens, outside university walls, playing jazz and latin music in all the great restaurants and clubs. When in 2007 I returned to Athens from my brief foray, I was pregnant with my first daughter, Lorelei. Being a parent in Athens gave me a new lens through which to see this beautiful town. When Lorelei was 3, she attended Emmanuel Episcopal Day School, and I became a substitute teacher to earn a little extra money, supplementing playing gigs and teaching private piano and flute lessons. I didn’t know it at the time, but this began a new chapter in my life. The next year, I became an assistant teacher at EEDS and fell in love with teaching young children. After the birth of my younger daughter, Sylvia, I began teaching music at EEDS in addition to maintaining my assistant teacher role. Teaching music and yoga to those kids opened my eyes to the possibilities of greater learning through music: learning how to express oneself, how to be kind to others, how to communicate with each other, how to work together toward a common goal. All of these things people knew before I did, but another layer of learning and growth unfolded for me, one that was more personal, individual, intrinsic: the potential for a child to be proud of her- or himself, to develop self-confidence and work toward a goal of personal excellence. These are the underlying skills that can pave the way for successful academic learning, creating healthy interpersonal relationships, expressing gratitude through support of community. These realizations prompted me to start my own early childhood music program called Music with Natalie. I now teach music to preschool and early elementary age kids, in addition to maintaining an active career as a professional flutist. HEART Music is the result of my and my husband Brian’s efforts to make high quality music education accessible for everyone in the community. We strongly believe in the power of music to positively influence a person’s present and future!