Dianna Hochella plays the piano and sings as her students rehearse for an upcoming concert.
Dianna Hochella began taking piano lessons when she was in kindergarten. Her grandmother realized she could already play piano by ear, and Hochella credits her grandmother as the reason she teaches music now at Clague Middle School.
Hochella grew up in New Jersey where her family still lives, but has fallen in love with the Midwest, currently living in Livonia.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Radford University in Michigan and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan. Hochella keeps up with professional development and networks with colleagues as a member of the Michigan School Vocal Music Association.
What led you to a career in teaching and specifically focusing on music for middle school aged children?
I have always known that I wanted to teach music. I knew since I was in high school. I have found that I absolutely love working with middle school aged children. A lot of times the middle school age groups are a bit of the underdogs. There is so much going on in their development. People think, “wow, they have so much to learn” or “oh boy, I’m not sure they are getting this”, or perhaps they think “I wish they would stop talking and listen”. This is what I love about the age group! They are so lively! I like to introduce them to art forms that inspire them and I love to highlight how impressive and deeply artistic they already are. This age group is constantly thinking and analyzing and growing. We may not always see it but it is happening at a very deep level that stays with them for life. I like to push them to achieve their highest and to keep open minds.
How long have you been teaching in Ann Arbor Public Schools and have you taught elsewhere?
I have taught in the AAPS for 5 years now. I also serve as the Assistant Director and Conductor of the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus, which I helped to start eight years ago. Previously I taught privately while I was performing opera. I also taught briefly in Royal Oak at Shrine Academy and High School.
How would you describe your teaching style?
In my classroom, I strive to motivate my students to do their best and extend their own personal limits. I facilitate a safe and nurturing learning environment that encourages students to explore and discover. My passion is teaching and sharing my love of music to expand each student’s musical abilities. I am a compassionate and student-focused teacher committed to establishing and maintaining a creative learning environment where students are supported and encouraged to take ownership of their learning.
Are there any books or classes that have help shaped your teaching style?
There are so many wonderful teachers that have helped to shape my teaching style. I studied at Radford University in Virginia and the University of Michigan. I was so fortunate to study under the direction of amazing conductors. I also have a wonderful mentor at the Michigan Opera Theatre, Suzanne Mallare Acton. I’d also like to highlight the amazing music teachers that I work with in the AAPS! When I began working here I was immediately in awe and felt very grateful to be surrounded by such amazing and masterful music teachers. The wealth of information and ideas helps to push me to strive to be my best.
What’s one of your most memorable moments or funniest things that has happened in your classroom?
I teach middle school students. There are memorable and funny moments every day and that’s what I love about it! In the music classroom we often laugh at the funny noises we make. A very touching and memorable moment for me this past year is when the 8th grade advisory choir threw me a surprise birthday party! Homemade cookies and all! Memorable moments always include when I see students being kind to each other and supporting one another, when students achieve goals they had worked very hard at, when students share with me the exciting things going on in their families.
What do you do in your free-time to recharge and relax?
My husband and I absolutely love going to the movies! To escape into a good story is so much fun! We also love to check out historic theaters in Michigan so we are often exploring. I love to travel whenever possible, abroad as often as I can.
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