COLL: Collegiate Division Updates

Collegiate Division Updates

The Collegiate Division has had a successful spring semester. The ALcNAfME board members, Emma Tosney (President), Mariah Martin (Vice-President), John Niiler (Treasurer), and Hannah Creel (Secretary), had the opportunity to participate in NAfME’s 2021 Hill Day. In this event, we advocated for music education with several state legislators alongside AMEA Governing Board members Dr. Rob Lyda, Dr. Meghan Merciers (ALcNAfME State Advisor), Dr. Greg Gumina, Dr. Becky Halliday, and Mr. David Raney. The collegiate members offered a unique perspective on the importance of music education that proved effective in the meetings and helped to bring to light some of the challenges that we have faced in the classroom due to the pandemic.

The executive board began planning the 2021 Alabama Collegiate Summit, which will take place on October 24 at the University of Alabama. We are excited to have the opportunity to meet in person at this event and expect to see many universities represented from across the state. Because of the effects of COVID-19, the theme for this year’s Summit is “Connect.” We hope to offer an opportunity for students to reconnect with one another and hear how connection is vital in the classroom. We are also planning on reaching out to initiative collegiate chapters throughout the summer to engage less active chapters and increase numbers in membership.

The ALcNAfME newsletter is still underway and helping to streamline communication between the various chapters throughout the state. In the newsletter, we post updates for collegiates and have a collegiate chapter and student spotlight; it has been a successful way for the various chapters to stay connected throughout the busy semester.


Emma Tosney, President, cNAfME Alabama

COLL: Collegiate Division Updates

The collegiate division of AMEA has had a successful school year. Despite the effects of COVID-19, we were still able to successfully carry out the Collegiate Summit and AMEA Conference.

The 2020 Alabama Collegiate Summit was virtually held in October. The Summit focused on innovation in the music classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hosted various guest speakers, including Andy Meadows, Dr. Pat Stegall, Randy Fields, Dr. Rob Lyda, and a panel of new teachers. We had thirty- five attendees and four faculty advisors from eight different universities across the state, including Samford, Alabama, Troy, North Alabama, Alabama State, Jacksonville State, and Alabama at Birmingham. The event served as a great encouragement in the middle of such a challenging school semester as many students transitioned to online classes.

The 2021 AMEA Conference, held in January, proved tremendously successful for the collegiate division, despite it occurring virtually for the first time. We hosted various sessions in conjunction with other divisions, covering everything from score study to sight-reading to building relationships in the classroom. The collegiate social events – coffee hour and game night – provided a space for students to build long-lasting connections with one another. As the weekend came to a close, elections were held, and the 2021-2022 Collegiate Executive Board is as follows:

President: Emma Tosney, University of Alabama
Vice President/President Elect: Mariah Martin, University of Alabama
Secretary: Hannah Creel, Samford University
Treasurer: John Niiler, University of Alabama

We will continue to update cNAfME chapters with our monthly collegiate newsletter and on our Instagram (@ua_cnafme) page. We are looking forward to another great year!

Emma Tosney, President, cNAfME Alabama

COLL: Virtual Fall Summit – You’re Invited!

ALcNAfME is hosting its annual summit virtually on October 25th from 1:30-4:30! In this article, you will find (hopefully) all the answers to questions that could possibly accompany a virtual summit. Your collegiate executive board has been working hard to solidify all of the details for this event, and we cannot wait to share this experience with you all!

Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Who: We are excited to host four excellent speakers from the state of Alabama as well as a group of new teachers who graduated from Alabama universities in the last year!

Keynote – Mr. Andy Meadows, Alabama Arts Education Specialist
Instrumental – Dr. Pat Stegall, The University of North Alabama
Vocal/Choral – Mr. Randall Fields, Bob Jones High School
Elementary/General – Dr. Rob Lyda, Cary Woods Elementary School
What: Virtual Summit will be a time of professional development. This year we have chosen the theme “Innovate”. Through sessions and discussion, we will engage with how music educators are having to innovate in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When: October 25th from 1:30pm-4:30pm

Where: 9

Why: I think we can all admit we’re a bit “Zoomed out”, but we believe that it is important to continue learning and growing as future music educators during this global pandemic. This will be an exciting time to hear the perspectives of new and veteran educators, and I hope you are excited to put yourselves in their shoes and get a glimpse of what the classroom really looks like!

How: Watch parties! Each university is handling the pandemic a bit differently; therefore, we want to leave how each individual chapter engages with the virtual summit up to you. If you want to tune in individually from the comfort of your home, that’s great! If you want to gather as a cNAfME chapter and watch as a group, that’s also great!

Keep in mind, if you gather as a chapter please ensure you have a minimum of three computers to make sure your chapter has access to all three of the breakout sessions.

We’re So Excited!
We cannot wait to share this virtual experience with you! Please remember these final guidelines as you prepare to attend Virtual Summit:

● Upon entry, please change your name to include your school and the breakout session you wish to attend (i.e. Jackson Vaughan, Samford, Elementary/General).
● Please mute yourself at all times, unless you are engaging with our presenters.
● Please dress professionally (business casual).

● Please ask questions! Summit is no fun if no one engages!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions by emailing (please do not reply to this email)! We look forward to seeing you virtually soon!

COLL: ­No Child Left Behind in the Music Classroom

As we continue to navigate our way through COVID-19 and what that means for our schools, it is important that we find ourselves equipped with the correct information to properly advocate for our arts classrooms. In order to do this, we must know the history of the United States arts legislation in public-schools. Without this information, it is nearly impossible to be able to represent ourselves and advocate for arts funding in the rapidly changing classroom. As a new school year approaches, now more than ever, we should know what legislation says about music education.

On January 8, 2002, former President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) into law. This newly found education act focused heavily on standards and assessment. Subjects such as mathematics and reading were heavily stressed and brought to the forefront of schools’ curricula. With a testing centered system, many schools were labeled as “failing” under this mandate and placed under the magnifying glass of the federal eye. The goal was to move schools to a place of progress and felt that the place where change was to be made was in testing. For music educators, the question then became: Where do arts classes fit into this system?

The history of NCLB is extremely interesting when looking at how quickly states lost the power to assess their own students and determine how they define progress. This began in 1994 when The Goals 2000 was passed. This was an American education act with the plans to get the education system back on track by the year 2000. This act was the first implication of the arts as “core subjects” and really spearheaded the idea into NCLB. By 2002 when NCLB was passed into law, the arts were officially “core subjects”, but did not have the legislation to support it. Through many attempts to reauthorize NCLB, the Obama administration tried to tweak American assessment by giving control of scheduling and examination back to the individual states. Though it failed both in 2007 and 2011, the Obama administration began a redesign to give states flexibility in their own teaching. In 2013, NCLB was renewed by the House of Representatives with solely republican support, but in 2015 the Every Student Succeeds Act passes with legislation that allows music and arts education to be viewed as a valuable and important subjects to build into curriculum.

Standards were heavily affected when No Child Left Behind was passed in 2002. In general, NCLB put heavy emphasis on mathematics and reading. To many educators, this system appeared to lack balance and neglected the importance of many other subjects. NCLB also changed the way we view assessment. The act attempted to streamline examinations to assess in what areas students were failing. Legislation required that all students be proficient in both reading and mathematics but were vague in what the term “proficient” means. This major change in testing angered many educators. Some educators even accused the federal system of changing testing because changing teaching was too difficult of a task. In my opinion, teaching is something that is adaptable and dependent on the individual teacher. A good teacher is able to adapt their individual teaching to meet the needs of their classroom while assessment is something that is much less flexible. Assessment is extremely valuable when collecting data, but when looking at existing data and looking for ways to make a change, the teaching is the first thing that needs to be assessed.

With music education being deemed a “core subject”, music educators were optimistic and looking forward to the possibilities of teaching under NCLB, but through weak legislation, little change was made to ensure students were being held to appropriate standards to assess their basic musical development. This caused a great debate about the possibility of a national music assessment. While many were in favor of a streamlined music exam, others were worried about the lost qualities in a pen and paper exam. Standards and assessment of music were centered around progress and growth but did not examine important musical qualities such as communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Without these key aspects of music education, the student is merely learning to make pretty noise. This argument drove many music educators to despise NCLB and push for more control of their teaching standards and assessment in the classroom. All of this can simply be put as: music education cannot fit in the established paradigm that NCLB sets up in the American education system.

Funding was another aspect of No Child Left Behind that caused much grief in the music education classroom. Under NCLB, funding was based on adequate yearly progress. This means, that if a school does not meet certain standards during the school year, the school will begin to lose funding after one year of grace. This creates an extremely backward system where failing schools never receive the funds to improve. Instead, schools without the proper funding are found unable to adequately educate their students. While NCLB is often criticized as an underfunded mandate, the majority of funds were directed toward testing subjects such as mathematics and reading. With funds being funneled into math and reading, the arts were left to fend for themselves and come up with their own ways to keep their programs afloat. Already existing budget deficits caused arts education to be placed lower on the priority list than it already was. If a school did not meet its adequate yearly progress, there was no hope in their arts programs receiving any substantial funding. Music educators were placed in an interesting situation where they did not have the funds or time to support their classes and programs.

In 2015, thirteen years after the initial passing of No Child Left Behind, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed into law. This law labeled music education as part of a “well-rounded” education. Unlike NCLB, ESSA had the legislation to support itself and began making changes to give states power within their own education systems. First, states had the ability to determine how they define progress. Since not every school and location across the country is the same, it was important for states to individually define what progress means and how it is measured and assessed in the public-school system. Second, states controlled educational money within their own systems. Funding was no longer directly put into core classes but was under direction of the states as to where it should go. With the states in control, money and time were placed into the hands of music educators. The Every Student Succeeds Act gave music educators flexibility to teach music in a creative facet without fear of streamlined assessment and standards.

The No Child Left Behind Act, while good in concept, impeded music educators from doing their jobs. Not only were they held to very strict federally mandated standards, but they were forced to face budget and scheduling problems head-on. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, music educators are put in a much better position to teach and encourage creativity. As we all know, music education is a place within a school that fosters creativity; therefore, it cannot be strictly confined to checking off standard boxes. Especially as we find ourselves advocating our way through a global pandemic, it is pertinent that we understand the history of the United States public-school music education legislation. The more we know, the better equipped we are to advocate to local, state, and national officials to keep arts funding in our classrooms. Through ESSA, the arts are guaranteed a place in the public-school classroom and it is our duty as educators to keep it there.


Beveridge, T. (2009). No Child Left Behind and Fine Arts Classes. Arts Education Policy Review, 111(1), 4– 7. doi: 10.1080/10632910903228090

Elpus, K. (2014). Evaluating the Effect of No Child Left Behind on U.S. Music Course Enrollments. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62(3), 215–233. doi: 10.1177/0022429414530759

Gilbert, A. D. (2016). The Framework for 21st Century Learning: A first-rate foundation for music education assessment and teacher evaluation. Arts Education Policy Review, 117(1), 13–18. doi: 10.1080/10632913.2014.966285

Kos, R. P. (2017). Music education and the well-rounded education provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act: A critical policy analysis. Arts Education Policy Review, 119(4), 204–216. doi: 10.1080/10632913.2017.1327383

Klein, A. (2018, October 25). No Child Left Behind Overview: Definitions, Requirements, Criticisms, and More. Retrieved from definition-summary.html.

Team, U. (2019, October 17). The Difference Between the Every Student Succeeds Act and No Child Left Behind. Retrieved from childs-rights/the-difference-between-the-every-student-succeeds-act-and-no-child-left-behind.

COLL: ­Q(uarantined) cNAfME


Throughout this troubling time for our world, cNAfME and music educators have been forced to ask themselves “How do we go on?.” Over the last month, college students across the globe have been sent home to complete the semester online. But what does this mean for musicians whose classes nearly all have some sort of performance aspect? Do we perform online to Facebook Live? Do we cancel our long-awaited recitals? Do we get to complete our internships? All of these questions are troublesome and difficult to answer, but as future music educators, it is important for us to continue to strive to learn from home and become better equipped for the careers ahead of us.

Since being home, cNAfME chapters have been encouraged to continue meeting in some facet. For many of our chapters, that means meeting over Zoom to discuss important music education topics, but for others, it means meeting asynchronously and using a set of resources to continue engaging in educational materials from home. Our chapter presidents have worked diligently to keep their chapters afloat and have collaborated in compiling different ways to still grow as future educators during this time of acting as Q(uarantined)cNAfME.

The University of North Alabama and Troy University have both been able to meet online through Zoom. In their meetings, they discuss what music education looks like from home and how to stay engaged with the classroom away from the classroom.

Alexa Dishroon, president of UNA’s chapter writes, “UNA’s chapter is holding ‘music education roundtable’ discussions via Zoom every week. Here, we present and discuss topics in music education. Our discussions also cover our personal teaching philosophies or procedures, and we discuss and share ideas and advice all in an effort to build us as future music educators.”

Troy University’s president Caroline Swann states, “Our cNAfME chapter has stayed in contact by having our business meetings over Zoom! We are also going to have an edTPA workshop with a guest speaker. Recently we held a business meeting where we talked about the bylaws and nominations for the executive team for next year.”

As chapters continue their normal routines from home, we are seeing how technology has changed how we interact with each other. While last month it would have been easy to say that we are terrified of how education will look in the coming weeks, cNAfME has proven they can carry on through online meetings, plan for the year to come, and become better educators from home. While many of our chapters have been able to meet synchronously, some chapters have had to adapt and engage with each other without face to face interaction.

At the University of Alabama, students have engaged with online resources. President Isabelle Page writes, “I doubt we’ll have a synchronous meeting with the entire chapter. What I plan on doing is to research some online learning tools for music teachers being used currently or to talk to music teachers currently teaching online classes, and compile some narratives or tips/tricks on how to navigate such a unique situation. I think what’s happening right now is horrible, but at the same time, it’s a learning opportunity for future teachers that I think we should take advantage of—it’s an excellent example of how teachers have to be ready to change their plans, so it’s something we should all be keeping up with.”

Our chapters are quickly learning what it means to be adaptable, which is an important trait any teacher should possess. As we continue to navigate the uncertain days and months ahead, ALcNAfME will continue to function and engage with each other with the goal of producing better future music educators than we had at the beginning of 2020. So, as the days at home go on, we will continue to learn, teach, and engage as future music educators.

COLL: ­Alabama cNAfME Report

Alabama cNAfME Report

AMEA’s collegiate chapter of NAfME has had a tremendously successful semester! Through the cooperation of the sixteen chapters in our state, the collegiate division has been able to jump- start the new ‘Buddy Chapter’ system, hold the annual Collegiate Summit and attend AMEA’s 2020 Professional Development Conference.

The Buddy Chapter system was started to give collegiate members the opportunity to network with students from neighboring universities. The chapters are broken up by size and geographical location. This also gives chapters the opportunity to see what is working well for other chapters and to be able to grow from that. All in all, we have seen a major spike in unity between collegiate members from neighboring universities and look forward to seeing how the Buddy Chapter system continues to grow.

On October 27, 2019, the annual Collegiate Summit was hosted at Samford University. The summit recorded 40 members in attendance, nearly doubling last year’s attendance. Members had the opportunity to hear from presenters Dr. Becky Halliday (The University of Montevallo), Captain Brian Walden (Samford University), Mrs. Deanna Bell (Vestavia Hills Elementary East), Dr. Anne Witt (The University of Alabama), and Dr. Ted Hoffman (The University of Montevallo). A new teacher panel was also interviewed to give collegiate members a deeper look into what the first year of teaching is like. Concluding with a networking dinner, this year’s annual summit was a huge success!

This year’s Professional Development Conference was a great experience for our collegiate division. With sessions ranging from topics such as interviewing skills to motivating students, collegiate members gained practical information about life as a future music educator. On Thursday night, members gathered for the Collegiate/Higher Education division mixer. This was a time for mingling and networking. Members were able to sit, play games, and meet other collegiate members during this time. The division also gathered at the collegiate luncheon to discuss the past year and elect a new board to serve on the 20-21 collegiate executive board. The new board members are as follows:

President: Jackson Vaughan, Samford University

Vice President/President-Elect: Emma Tosney, The University of Alabama Secretary: Grace Waldrop, University of North Alabama

Treasurer: Jacob Russell, University of North Alabama

Looking forward to the semester ahead, the executive board is planning on creating new forms of communication between chapters. A monthly newsletter highlighting individual chapters, workshops, and other events will begin in February. The collegiate division will also continuously update its social media presence (@cnafme_al) and focus on what is happening within the individual chapters in the state, as well as the work of the executive board. During this semester, the executive board encourages all chapters to continue meeting and networking

with their buddy chapter. Overall, it has been a great semester for AMEA’s collegiate division and the division looks forward to what the next few months have in store!

COLL: ­An Open Letter to cNAfME Alabama

Hello all!

This is DeLee Benton, your cNAfME Alabama president. This has been a very exciting year of new beginnings and growth for our state chapter so far! We are excited to expand our horizons through the National Collegiate Summit, through our Alabama Collegiate Summit, and through our new Collegiate Buddy Chapter System.

Our state AMEA graciously sent two collegiate members to the National Collegiate Summit and Hill Day. Several other collegiate students traveled along with these two sponsored students and many of them shared their individual experiences with our Secretary Isabelle Page. You can read more about their experiences in the previous issue of the AlaBreve.

Our Collegiate Summit will be held on October 27th, 2019 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Samford University. We will have opportunities for professional development, networking, and a New Teacher panel. Dinner for this event is provided by AMEA and is free to all students in attendance. More information will follow soon, so please be checking your emails!

We as the Collegiate NAfME Alabama state board have instituted our Chapter Buddy System this past summer. This new system provides collegiate pre-professional music educators with the tools they need to network with others in their future field. Music Educators often feel ostracized or singled out in their education systems and individual schools, especially in the more rural areas where they may be the only music educator for their school system. We as a Collegiate Board have been working to institute this new system to promote inclusion and to create and foster an environment of community and learning together. As educators we are never truly done learning, we will continue to learn from our peers, students, and mentors. With this Collegiate Chapter Buddy System we now have a facet of our organization specifically designed for collegians to connect with their peers before entering the professional world of music education. Now is the time to reach out and get to know our colleagues, there is a plethora of available knowledge and an opportunity for networking that we have yet to discover.

Here are the pairings for our Buddy Chapter System:

Alabama <-> UAB

Auburn <-> Troy

Montevallo <-> Samford <-> JSU

ASU <-> Faulkner <-> Miles College

UNA <-> A&M

page1image21435840 page1image8055744

If you are a cNAfME chapter president and have had trouble contacting your buddy chapter, or have not received an email from the cNAfME Alabama State Board regarding your buddy chapter, please send me an email regarding your situation.

Lastly, we encourage you all to ensure you are registered for the AMEA Conference scheduled for January 16-18, 2020! There will be several opportunities for professional development, networking, and the opportunity for a free meal at our Collegiate Luncheon!

I hope to see many of you soon at our Collegiate Summit.

Warm Regards,

DeLee Benton
University of Montevallo

cNAfME Alabama President

COLL: ­Guest Article…Advocating for Music Ed…

For the Collegiate Division  we present a guest contribution from Isabella Page, cNAfME Secretary. We hope you enjoy reading her thoughts.

DeLee Benton, cNAfME President







Advocating for Music Education and Connecting with Peers From Across the Country by Isabella Page.

One of the most prominent threats to music education is the supposed lack of support from the federal government and our own education systems. In several schools, especially those underfunded or understaffed, the arts—visual art, theater, music, and more—are the first to be reduced or cut. So, how can current and future music educators do more to understand the legislative jargon that allocates the funds for music and the arts? How can we use this knowledge to better advance our programs and support our students?

The National Advocacy Summit in Washington D.C., an annual event sponsored by NAfME, is a great force for change in this area. This unique event allows collegiate members of NAfME from all over the country to congregate in Washington D.C. and interact with legislators and their staffs involved in education and funding legislation. The collegiate members attended several valuable seminars, such as the State Level Advocacy Panel, Leader Development and Public Speaking, and more. They also attended Hill Day, which involved several meetings with legislators and their staffs to learn about the behind-the- scenes decision-making involved in allocating funds to the education department.

The state of Alabama sent three representatives—Sarah Chambless, from the University of Alabama, and Chase Hampton and Sara Slusher, from the University of North Alabama. Chambless shared some of her personal experiences with the legislators and their staff, commenting, “I gained knowledge about legislation that could one day impact my career. I also learned how to advocate for music and the importance of doing so.”

Hampton comments that, had he not attended the Summit, he may have blamed insufficient funding or lacking support “on the apathy of a faceless group of people.” Instead, he realizes that “there are many groups of people making demands on our legislators, and some had not thought much about music education before we came. It will be a task for the upcoming generation of music educators to…create an ongoing dialogue with members of Congress. For me, it became less about what ‘they’ should be doing and more about what I can do.

Hampton’s realization is a viewpoint that we as collegiate members have a special obligation to explore. It is very easy to blame the government for hardships within the education system, especially as a future music educator—there never seems to be enough money for your dream program, and there never seems to be enough support from the legislators who make those decisions. Instead, we must explore our options—what can we do with the funding we have? How can we recruit members of the community to support our cause? How can we serve our students and our communities to the best of our abilities? How can we create a dialogue with our congressmen and women—or, perhaps more importantly, our own school officials?

All of the above questions have a very simple solution: we must all be well-versed in the tricky rhetoric of effective advocacy. There are endless online resources, countless seminars—college students have so many resources that become more difficult to access once we graduate, so we must be proactive.

Within your own chapter, discuss the necessity of advocacy, and raise funds to bring in a speaker or send representatives to a seminar. Better yet, explore the possibility of having one or more members apply to next years’ Summit, or fundraise to send one of your members independently.

The next challenge we often face is this: once we know how to advocate, what can we use? There is extensive and conclusive evidence to support the necessity of music and the arts in children’s overall development; NAfME has a wonderful list outlining several advantages of music to a child’s development (see These and other resources are essential to any advocate—craft your pitch, research conclusive and documented studies to prove your argument, and advocate for your school’s program to the best of your ability.

This Summit and the Summits from the past have all done an excellent job in exposing collegiate members to the inner workings of the legislation surrounding music education’s funding, as well as equipping members with the tools and courage to advocate for their programs and pass on their knowledge to their chapters and peers. There is, however, another wonderful opportunity, perhaps even more valuable than the others.

Both Chambless and Hampton agreed that, aside from the knowledge gained in advocacy and legislation, the most rewarding experience of the Summit was getting to connect with their peers from across the country. This one-of-a-kind experience allowed members from all over the nation to meet one other and swap information and ideas, all in an effort to better their own cNAfME chapters and educate their peers with the information gained. Collegiate members exchanged future plans and ideas for several key issues in statewide cNAfME chapters, including fundraising, member involvement, and participation in local schools.

Collegiate members are a powerful part of NAfME’s presence around the country—while we are still young, we have the unique opportunity to witness change within our own schools, which in turn allows us to implement those changes in our own chapters and carry the knowledge into our future jobs. We have the resources and ability to contribute to our own chapters in outreach and service, bettering our communities—we then use that knowledge and experience to nurture our programs and further our careers, all the while continuing to use our greatest resource: each other.

“While it may seem as though legislators hold most of the power,” Hampton admits, “I do not think any amount of lobbying will affect our field as much as the teachers entering.”

For more information about the National Advocacy Summit and the legislative processes involved in program funding, visit and

COLL: ­Why are LGBTQ+ Students Drawn to the Music Classroom?

Oftentimes in the modern school system we see efforts to “include everyone”. Yet many state governments and school administrators simultaneously preach the suppression of certain minorities. Most often these minorities are LGBTQ+ students, and even faculty, that do not receive the proper inclusion in the general education system. While schools push for students to succeed in STEM subjects, many of these minority students instead turn to the arts to find a place of solace from the pressures of daily academic life. A place where they can be themselves. Inclusion is a large part of students’ enjoyment of arts programs, specifically in music. McBride says, “For many LGBTQ students and teachers, music classrooms are still one of the most accepting and safe spaces in… schools today.” (2016).

The Music Educator plays a crucial role in the LGBTQ+ students’ feeling of acceptance and presence in the classroom. If the Educator is unwelcoming and intolerant toward the minority students, the rest of the class will perceive this hostility and react in some way. Music Educators must understand the importance of their role and the influence they have on their students. Each of their students will form a bond with music that is their own, helping the student on their journey through life as they discover how to express themselves to others successfully. It is the task of the Music Educator to provide a haven for this discovery to take place.

Why is it that the music classroom seems to be so pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community’s sense of belonging? Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Garret, says that like any student, “LGBTQ students want to belong. They want positive reinforcement from teachers that they are okay. Music educators can provide this type of positive support in a number of ways, many of which focus on inclusion.” (2012).

Inclusion in the music classroom is essential in all aspects and stages of the students’ lives. “Music educators provide students with opportunities to create, perform, and reflect as individuals and as members of a group. Establishing a positive and inclusive learning environment is essential to maximizing student potential” (Garret, 2012). In elementary music children learn songs together: singing together, playing together, and learning instruments together as a group. As band and choir students age, they see the same inclusiveness arise in working together for a common goal— the next concert or competition. The students find it easy to belong to a group of people who all share a deep passion for similar things. At the same time, these students also desire a place where they can be an individual.

In the modern age, LGBTQ+ students find it hard to cope with the day to day struggles they face. Roughly 90% of LGBTQ+ high school students report being verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation, 60% feel unsafe on a regular basis, nearly half experience physical harassment or assault, and almost 2/3 hear homophobic remarks from school personnel. (Bergonzi, 2009). The very people charged with protecting students are helping to put LGBTQ+ students in dangerous emotional and physical states. The music classroom has the potential to protect its students from these dangers, and it all begins with the efforts of the Music Educator.

The first step to making a classroom safe for any minority is to be aware of your own personal bias(es) and be willing to accept any student that comes your way. The educator must be open and provide a welcoming classroom environment, so no student feels rejected or unwanted. Bergonzi describes this fine line: “Rather than well-intended sympathy, empathy from and supportive alliances with straight teachers, staff, and students are needed.” This means instead of simply feeling bad for the LGBTQ+ community, you are trying to truly understand their predicament and what you can do to help. It is not the students’ fault they may feel unsafe, but perhaps the fact that they truly are not safe in their day to day environment. Once the educator understands this, they can create a safer space for their students and provide an example to the future educators in the room and to other classrooms in the county and even the state. Garret mentions that the societal norm that prohibits many teachers from realizing their classroom is not as inclusive as it could be is easily overcome through communication: “Personal bias is frequently identified as an obstacle to inclusion of LGBTQ students, whether based on religious beliefs or on other value systems…society views heterosexuality as the standard and all others as deviations.” (Garret, 2012). Conversations with local LGBTQ+ organizations, support groups, and even just local families is one of the first steps an educator can take to bring awareness to the classroom. LGBTQ+ students want to learn and be involved in music just as desperately as heterosexual students. Therefore, it is important to “advertise” your program correctly to the entire community of students. For example, using sports and other “manly” things to bring people through your choir’s doors is a strategy that leaves out a good percentage of young men who do not resonate with sports or “manly” things. McBride mentions an advertisement he saw that read, “REAL MEN SING”. A seemingly attractive idea, but not one that will appeal to all young men. If a student desires to sing and truly has a hunger for music, that pupil should be your target— and they may not follow the conventional “masculinity” stereotype. Instead of a stereotype, advertise your group to the young musicians out there who simply want to make music.

It is amazing that music can provide a safe place for LGBTQ+ students when schools have not yet stepped up to the plate. The culture of the music classroom determines the future of the program, so it is important to keep it inclusive and open but to not change oneself in the process of creating the classroom culture. For example, an LGBTQ+ teacher would not benefit from imitating a gender stereotype (heterosexual Male/Female) in the classroom. In contrast, a person of religion does not need to “convert” to anything new to create a safe classroom, nor does a straight person need to strive to hide their sexuality. These are simply examples of personal bias that the educator should be aware of. Curriculum across schools is improving with inclusivity of LGBTQ+ influencers being mentioned throughout history. In music, Bergonzi suggests we improve how we represent music history by speaking more broadly of music. This can be done by mentioning other cultures, women in music, and the immense influence LGBTQ+ composers and performers have had on western music for decades. (2009).

Students should not feel as though they are a thing that does not belong in society and has not existed until now. As Bergonzi (2009) says, “Sexual orientation in music education is not a new phenomenon.” LGBTQ+ students have the opportunity to discover music and what it means to them in their own lives through the music classroom. Music educators are the crucial piece of the safe space puzzle, providing the tools, support, and acknowledgment students need to succeed. The role and influence of music educators in the lives of LGBTQ+ students is an essential first step to those same students going out into the world and discovering what being LGBTQ+ means to them and how they can share their story with the world, creating an endless cycle of love and support for future students.

Works Cited

Bergonzi, Louis. “Sexual Orientation and Music Education: Continuing a Tradition.” Music Educators Journal, December 2009, pp. 21-25.

Garrett, Mathew L. “The LGBTQ Component of 21st-Century Music Teacher Training: Strategies for Inclusion From the Research Literature.” Applications of Research in Music Education, November 2012, pp. 55-62.

Lehmann, Andreas, Woody, Robert, and Sloboda, John A. (2007). Psychology for Musicians: Understanding and Acquiring the Skills. New York: Oxford University Press.

McBride, Nicholas R. “Singing, Sissies, and Sexual Identity.” Music Educators Journal, June 2016, pp. 36-40.

COLL: ­Collegiate Conference News

The 2018 AMEA Professional Development Conference was a great success for the Collegiate Division. The conference kicked off with the first-ever Collegiate Orientation for the conference on Thursday, and it served as a gateway for pre-professional music educators to make the most of their conference. Guest speakers – including AMEA President Susan Smith, Collegiate Secretary Tyler Jones, first year teacher Savannah Smith, and second year teacher Stacy Daniels – discussed how the conference is the perfect opportunity for collegiate members to build their professional network with their peers, veteran educators, and individuals in the music industry; to gain new ideas, strategies, and resources on music education from phenomenal presenters and clinicians; and to get out of their comfort zone and experience professional growth outside of the classroom. The orientation was very beneficial and we hope for it to be successful and useful for years to come.

Collegiates benefited from numerous sessions on topics ranging from edTPA to how to interview for your first teaching job. The Collegiate Division/Higher Education Division mixer was held on Thursday night and helped strengthen the organic partnership between these two divisions and allowed teacher and students to engage outside of the classroom. The collegiate luncheon was held on Friday. We had representation from 14 collegiate chapters from across the state. We had a successful lunch and business meeting, where we began planning a state Hill Day where we can lobby for music education on the state level.

We held successful elections and the four Executive Board members from 2017 rolled off after a year of service (Madison Baldwin, President, Jacksonville State University; Tyler Jones, Secretary, University of Montevallo; Brenton Nash, Treasurer, University of Alabama) and Jordan Banks, VP/President-Elect, assumed the office of President.

The new Collegiate Executive Board for the 2018-2019 year is as follows:

  • President: Jordan Banks, University of Montevallo
  • VP/President-Elect: DeLee Benton, University of Montevallo
  • Secretary: Kylee Berggren, Samford University
  • Treasurer: DeShawn Sewer, Alabama A&M University

Written by:

Jordan Hare Banks and Tyler Jones