BY RICK WATSON
DORA - William Justice of Dora received national recognition in the summer of 2017 from the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), which is is a prestigious organization that only recognizes the best of the best teachers. Only six music teachers in Alabama have received this certification.
As a result of this recognition, the Alabama Music Teachers Association will recognize Justice at this year’s conference the first week of June.
Justice is a 2008 graduate of Dora High School and has played music since he was 6 years old. After graduating from Dora, he began his college career at Bevill State Community College. He started teaching piano that same year.
The music he teaches can be eclectic. He has taught kids to play everything from classical music to video game music.
“A lot of kids want to play the music they hear in their video games,” Justice said.
After college, he worked in major motion pictures as a double (stands in for actors when they aren’t on the set) and TV. His latest project was on a TV commercial in Huntsville for a trucking company. He enjoyed that work, but his hearts in teaching music.
“I’ve found that I enjoy teaching more than performing,” he said.
One of Justice’s favorite parts of teaching is that first meeting people who want to play music.
“They are often so timid when they first come in. The little ones are usually afraid at first,” Justice said. “They are terrified of me and they are terrified of the piano.”
He said they often think they can’t learn to play. “But after a few months when they play a simple version of 'Lavender’s Blue,' they begin believing in themselves. It’s magic when a young one nails a piece of music in front of their parents,” he said.
Justice records performances of his students. Recently, a 5-year-old boy gave his first recital. When he finished playing his solo, the child knew he’d nailed it.
“He jammed his fists into the air triumphantly,” Justice said with a smile. “That was an awesome moment.”
Statistics show that kids who play music do better in school. Justice encourages them to continue practicing so they won’t become discouraged.WillJustice Award
“I try to make teaching fun. When I do that, I can often win the kids over so they won’t fear me” he says. He always advises them to smile while they are playing.
Music is a language in itself. It’s an ability that you have to develop, according to Justice.
Looking toward the future, Justice said that he’s not finished with his education. He would love to get a doctorate in performance studies from the University of Georgia. It covers music as well as acting. Once he gets that degree, he’d like to teach in the school systems in both acting and music. He is an independent teacher, but he would love to become certified to teach both music and acting at the college level.
Justice teaches around Birmingham several days a week, but he made room on his schedule to teach piano at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Dora each Monday from 1 until 9 p.m.
If someone wants to begin taking lessons from Justice, they call his cell phone at 205-470-6932 and make an appointment to get the details. There are no contracts or signup fees, which allows students to stop the lessons if they are not a fit.
Additional information can also be found on Justice’s Facebook page.