Mr. Nathan Diehl is in his first year as a music teacher at the Middle School. In addition to teaching all general music classes, Mr. Diehl also conducts the chorus and grade level bell choirs and leads our chapel musicians. Previously, Mr. Diehl taught music in the Lower School for 11 years and also taught at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts.
Let’s get to know Mr. Diehl…
Why did you choose education/teaching as your profession?
I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t want to be a music teacher. I never had to question what I wanted to do for a career. It was those times growing up when I was making music and sharing it with others that I enjoyed more than anything – the piano lessons, the band and chorus rehearsals, the theatre performances, the PMEA festivals, the outreach concerts. How could I not want to do that for the rest of my life? How could I not want to show students how special, transformative, and meaningful these experiences are?
What aspect of your curriculum/program do you enjoy teaching the most and why?
The handbell groups have quickly become the aspect of the music program that I enjoy teaching the most. I’ve never taught handbells before, but I’m really loving it. After 13 years of teaching, it’s exciting to have something altogether new. I always enjoy taking complex things, breaking them down into small pieces, and building them back up into a finished product. That’s essentially what beginning handbell groups need to do. On top of it, I enjoy creating a team dynamic amongst the students. The ensemble needs every student to be giving their all or else it falls apart. It’s a great lesson in teamwork, trust, and coordination.
What is your favorite moment/event at Moravian Academy during the school year?
Vespers. This event requires the most amount of organization and preparation compared to any other event that I coordinate, but the payoff is also the greatest. I can’t help but hold it as my favorite. When I was an undergraduate at Moravian College, we held six Vespers performances each year with many of the same traditions as the Academy. This was when it originated as a special time for me. Now, I get to coach my students in preparation for this beautiful, celebratory tradition shared with our families and the greater community. That evening is bursting with reward and moments to cherish.
What do you most enjoy about teaching at Moravian Academy?
There are so many things I enjoy about teaching at Moravian Academy – I’m not sure I could pick one. The faculty is top-notch, and I’m thankful to be among their company. These are teachers that don’t clock out at 3:00. They value each program at our school and celebrate each achievement. They help each other and support each other in such giving and open ways. The other thing I truly value about teaching at MA is that we are able to educate the whole student. Not only are we content-driven or skill-driven, but we seek to develop strong values, empathy, and understanding in our students.
What do you hope to provide to students in your classes and what do you hope they take away?
I hope that my students take away a need to create something artistic for the rest of their lives. One of the beautiful things about music is that you can create it no matter what your skill level. Whether you’re with a group or by yourself, the creation of something musically artistic is an enjoyable, fun way to express yourself. I wish more people on this planet would feel the desire to put down their phone or turn off the TV and practice being musically expressive. I don’t want my students to feel like the only way music can exist in your life is if you’re perfectly accomplished and well-studied. Whether it’s singing with your family in the car, jamming on an easy melody or chord progression, or contributing to a large performing group, I want my students to feel the need to take part.
What Moravian Academy tradition do you enjoy most?
I’m not sure I’d be here without the Moravian Academy tradition of embracing the arts. Since the formation of our school more than 275 years ago, it was clear that the Moravians always valued music, and Moravian Academy always committed itself to the instruction of the arts. In an era when the arts are the easiest programs to cut, MA continues to dedicate its time and resources. Though artistic expression and study have evolved immensely over the last few centuries, I’m so happy that we can say we’re continuing the tradition in our own special way.
What’s something we don’t know about you?
Some people might not know about my musical activities outside of school. For many years, I’ve taken part in local musical theatre productions at many theatres and colleges. Whether it’s conducting a pit orchestra or playing piano for a show, I love being part of the theatre. Nowhere else can you experience so many art forms at once – acting, vocal and instrumental music, dance, and the visual arts of scene, costume, and light. And to top it off, it happens live. The audience breathes the same air as the performers. It’s incredible.
What do you like to do in your free time?
One of my favorite activities to do in my free time involves a little bit of detective work. I absolutely love digging into family history, whether it’s pouring through online databases and archives or visiting libraries and courthouses to dig for clues. I think it’s amazing to discover the people that came before me and to uncover the lives they led. For example, we all have 16 great-great-grandparents; that’s 16 complete human beings to discover with stories, victories, and struggles that are not much more than 100 years removed from us. These are human beings that led directly to us. I’ve discovered deep roots and an incredible amount of pride in the lives of my ancestors.