Virtus Academy

School of Rock… or Swing Jazz

Q&A with Joshua McKenny, Virtus Academy’s New Music Teacher

Have you always been interested in music?
Yes! I’ve always been a singer. I started playing the drums when I was three years old and performed with different musical groups for special events at my dad’s church. I learned to play several instruments and eventually got a degree in music. For years, I taught private lessons in the evenings and on weekends but ultimately decided to teach full-time in an academic setting.

Do you have a favorite instrument?
Voice is my superpower, but I love playing guitar and piano, and my favorite genre is Big Band – 1930-40s swing jazz. My focus at Virtus this year is to combine all three of my favorites to create something unique. We have 24 guitars and digital keyboards, a mixer board, speakers, and microphones, everything we need for live and recorded performances.

What can students expect to learn from you this year?
For starters, they can fully expect to have a lot of fun learning to sing, play the piano and guitar, and record their own music. My goal is to cut an album featuring a song from each grade, like a yearbook, but with musical memories.

Will you teach all VA students or just some?
I’m fortunate that I get to teach all students in grades 1-6. However, it’s an elective for students in grades 7-8, so those students have a choice. I hope they choose to explore it. There is a lot of potential and creativity tied to music. We’re not yet giving it its full due, but we will. Hopefully, I can show as many of our students as possible how important and influential it is.

How does music inspire you?
It’s no secret that music is a vast industry. What many people don’t know, though, is the impact it has on cognitive development, social-emotional skills, and grades. It primes the brain for learning in a way that’s unmatched by other pursuits like athletics. The opportunity to use it to enhance students’ academic achievements drives me.