BAXTER — Baxter resident Erin Anderson is high on life.
Anderson, the wife of Pastor Hans Anderson of Trinity Lutheran Church, loves so many things, but music is her specialty. Anderson teaches piano to students at her home and at the church three days a week. She also is the part-time music director at Trinity, where she oversees the choirs of gospel, seniors, bell, flute and the Alternative Worship Experience, the church’s contemporary choir.
“I’m a teacher and I love kids,” Anderson said. “I began teaching piano lessons when I was a senior in high school ... It’s a fun life. Everyone loves music. I do classical training and also contemporary the music the students are interested in. I have one student doing a song by Justin Bieber.”
Anderson, who took piano lessons beginning in second grade and continued through college, said the norm used to be starting piano lessons by second grade. But today, parents are starting their children earlier, by kindergarten or first grade. Her oldest student is now an eighth-grader.
Anderson began teaching piano to son Karl, 7, a first-grader at Baxter Elementary School, a year ago. The Andersons, who moved to Baxter in 2005, also have a daughter, Kaya, 5, who attends preschool.
“It was a great experience,” Anderson said of teaching her son. “It gave me first-hand experience as a mom to have them practice the piano every day to being a teacher and telling them to practice every day.”
Anderson said there is a lot of interest in the area for piano lessons and a teacher may teach as many students as they want. She teaches 21 students and each receives 30 minutes of class once a week. She said that most of her students are girls; she has only three boys.
Anderson said part of the fun of teaching students in her home is she gets neighborhood children, and it’s nice to get to know them.
“I do one-on-one teaching so I really get to know the students. It’s fun.”
Anderson said the biggest challenge in teaching piano lessons is time management. She conducts her piano lessons after school — time she wants to spend with her children, who are now in school. She said scheduling appointments also has become more difficult as the students are involved in many activities.
But it is what she loves, and teaching piano lessons runs in her family — her mother taught piano lessons and is musically talented.
“Every Christmas the grandkids would sing and play piano,” Anderson said. “I’ve started that tradition and my son is practicing what he’s going to perform at Christmas. We do a lot of duets together.
“My husband jokes with me because I ask my piano students what they plan to play for their families at Christmas and he says ‘no one does that, just your family.’”
Anderson grew up in a small town in Iowa. During her senior year in high school, her family moved to another small town in Iowa, and when she went for her piano lessons in her new town, the teachers told her that she should be teaching students lessons, so she did. She also worked on her music portfolio for college, where she earned the highest music scholarship. In 2000, she earned a degree at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with a major in English and a minor in music. She is working on her master’s degree to enhance her piano lessons.
After earning her college degree, Anderson taught secondary English for four years while attending seminary school. Anderson also is passionate about being a pastor, like her father.
“I have a lot of interests and sometimes it is hard for me to focus,” Anderson said. “I met my husband in Greek class ... After we got together we decided that we didn’t want to have two pastors in the family. But it all worked out. At first I wasn’t keen on teaching, but I ended up loving it.”
Anderson said that, even though she’s not a pastor, she’s involved with her church at Trinity and is interested in Christian education. She said she led 36 people last year to a mission trip to Tanzania and is planning another trip in 2013. Anderson said people supported the Peace House Africa, a secondary school for orphans, and the Elerai Lutheran Church in Arusha in northern Tanzania.
Anderson said that in the family’s free time, they enjoy outdoor activities, such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, hiking and swimming.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.