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Edmond's teacher of the year is worldwide music ambassador

Edmond North Orchestra Director Peter Markes said his parents helped lead him into education. Markes was named teacher of the year for the Edmond Public Schools. He also is a member of the internationally renowned band Horseshoe Road.
BY NASREEN IQBAL Modified: April 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm •  Published: April 20, 2013

— Edmond North High School Orchestra teacher Peter Markes didn't always know he wanted to be a teacher, but he had a hunch.

The youngest of four children, Markes was born and raised in Waukomis, near Enid. His mother taught physical education and his father taught science. The family also farmed.

“We're a family of farmers and teachers. Those are two professions that teach you faith and patience probably better than most,” he said.

When Markes wasn't studying or helping out on the farm, he engaged in his favorite pastime: music. He became skilled on the piano, violin and guitar.

His earned degrees in music education and instrumental performance from Oklahoma City University and was hired as North's orchestra director in 2002.

He said he realized he wanted to be a teacher while taking a personality development class his father taught.

“I learned that the foundation of teaching is trust. I realized just how much of an impact a teacher can have on someone,” Markes said. “I like to think of where my teaching can take my students. They say a teacher affects eternity. You never know where your influence ends.”

This year his teaching took him throughout the world, performing with Kyle Dillingham and Horseshoe Road.

Selected as U.S. ambassadors for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Markes and his Horseshoe Road bandmates traveled the globe to teach music.

Universal language

Markes said the bureau's mission is to bring countries together through the universal language of music.

“Our purpose is to represent the American culture and create relationships through music. It's such a positive way to establish an impression.”

The band, which he said plays everything from country music to bluegrass, classical and jazz, traveled to South Korea, Taiwan, Myanmar and Russia during its monthlong tour.

His most memorable experience was teaching Taiwanese students to play the fiddle.

“They started playing a piece that my high school students learned right before I left,” Markes said. “I got goose bumps. I thought here we are in Taiwan playing a song I taught my students in Oklahoma that was originally composed in Russia.”

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