Sarah Fard is an educator and musician focused on creating a more accessible and inclusive music scene. She studied jazz guitar and music education at the University of New Hampshire before starting her public school teaching career in Massachusetts in 2009. She has taught a variety of music courses at all grade levels, and currently teaches guitar, guitar ensemble, music technology, and adapted music at Medford High School in Medford, MA.
Sarah earned her Masters in Music Education from Boston University and a Graduate Certificate in Music Education and Autism from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She continues her work with the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs by acting as an educational consultant for their private lesson’s program and leading professional development opportunities for music educators. She also coordinates Berklee’s chapter of United Sound, a program bringing adaptive beginning band lessons to adults, for which she was the recipient of the 2018 Berklee Urban Service Award.
An avid advocate for inclusive and adaptive teaching methods, Sarah has led workshops for VSA Intersections from the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Massachusetts Music Educators Association, the Massachusetts Teacher’s Association, and more. Specifically, Sarah has a focus on bringing guitar education and music literacy opportunities to all learners. She recently published her adaptive guitar curriculum online and co-developed a Finale font plug in, based on an adaptive guitar tablature system that she created. In the swift switch to remote learning in spring of 2020, Sarah collaborated with Redefining Default LLC to develop an online piano keyboard specifically for students who benefit from adaptive notation.
Actively performing when she is not working in education, Sarah also started the A Guitarist Is project, aimed at dismantling the often homogeneous representation of what a guitar player can or should be. Though constantly evolving, the A Guitarist Is project currently exists as a concert series featuring guitar players of diverse genres and identities. In addition, a portion of proceeds from each show goes to an organization that helps to support the musical aspirations of young musicians that are underrepresented or undersupported in the mainstream narrative.
I went into teaching because I believe that everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard, and music can be a powerful tool in doing so. An education in music is an education in empathy, critical thinking, and creativity.
Being a musician shouldn’t be reserved for those that are more privileged, or for those that learn in a specific way. Music connects us all, and should be accessible to all. It is my role as a teacher to spark creativity and foster growth. For that to happen, every prospective musician needs to feel valued and represented. This relates to the music we teach, the methods we use, and the musicians we expose our students to. If it’s not diverse, then we are not doing our best for our students!
Lastly, I believe that when teaching music, I need to not only honor where my students are coming from, but where they are going. Rather, where they want to go. Whether they go on to study music, become a performer, or keep their musicality for themselves, it is my job to support their path. Every student is unique, and that is a beautiful thing.