HED: End of the COVID School Year

 

End of the COVID School Year

Wow! What a year it has been. Music education has certainly changed over the past 15 months. One common theme that arises when talking to colleagues seems to be the loss of time. Online teaching requires extra time to prepare, present, and assess. No wonder we are exhausted. Yes, change is hard, but we have endured. We have adjusted to the new normal and are ready to move forward. Some practices that have emerged during the pandemic are worth keeping, while others, should be discarded. Here are my thoughts.

Practices to Discard
Blended learning: Can an educator be successful in teaching students face-to-face while simultaneously teaching another group of students online? I’ve seen valiant teachers struggle very successfully in blended learning environments. But despite their efforts, are the students really learning?

Online conferences: I have mixed feelings about this one. The AMEA 2021 Conference was a highlight for me. I watched great presentations, witnessed inspiring performances, and didn’t have to pay for a hotel room. All things considered, I would rather dig a little deeper into my wallet and spend a few precious days with my colleagues than sit in front of a computer screen.

Parking lot choir performances: If you do not know what I’m talking about, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4OoOxrgUg. This is human ingenuity at its best, but I doubt that this type of performance is what the composers intended.

Practices to Keep
Web conferencing: Everyone has become more skillful using Zoom, Google Meet, etc. This is an efficient method of communication. You can speak to large numbers of people without leaving your office and you can exit the meeting without being noticed.

Social Emotional Learning: Music education does more than develop singers who can hit the high notes and instrumentalists who perform with amazing virtuosity. As Bennett Reimer professed, music connects people to their feelings. Campaigns are growing to use the tenets of SEL as a means to assist students with their psychological needs. Music education can play an important role in healing the emotional scars caused by the pandemic.

Web resources: The number and quality of resources on the web have exploded. New resources are being developed every day. I continue to be amazed at what I am able to find.

Students recording themselves: Self-evaluation is an important part of learning. School shutdowns have forced more students to record and evaluate their own performances. This is a good thing! How can we truly understand our abilities if we do not listen to ourselves?

Visions for the Next School Year
As we return to the classroom, I’d like to share three goals for the upcoming school year. First, the HED will play a greater role in promoting professional development opportunities across the state. Our members and their institutions host many of these events. We can help them attract participants. Second, the HED will facilitate reciprocal relationships between institutions of higher education and Pk- 12 schools. We need each other, so let’s communicate! Third, COVID has taken much of the enjoyment out of the classroom. The HED will continue working on ideas to put the excitement back into teaching. One idea has been to partner with our C-NAfME chapter and develop a “Festival of Music Lesson Presentations.” That may be the spark that ignites the joy we are missing. If you have a suggestion, please share it.

In closing, find time to disconnect this summer and breathe. Next year may be the best school year ever!

HED: Music Education in Alabama – Alive and Well!

Music Education in Alabama – Alive and Well!
Colleagues, we have faced many challenges this year. I can proudly announce, however, that we are surviving and thriving. The recent 2021 AMEA Conference provides evidence that music education is not only taking place in Alabama, but that music educators are more determined than ever to continue our strong traditions. The number of participants in this conference strongly suggests that we are resilient and have the enthusiasm and dedication needed to overcome any obstacle. Bring on the future!
In the Higher Education Division, there were several conference highlights that are worthy of acknowledgement. This was the first time that the HED hosted two recitals, one held on Thursday and the other on Friday. The performers presented a wide variety of repertoire with an emphasis on underrepresented composers and new music. Next, the “lightning roundtable” session on Saturday was a fast-paced introduction to several important topics. Although each presenter could have easily filled their own 50-minute time slot, the 10-minute limit kept the session moving quickly. Be assured, you will see more sessions using this format in future conferences. In addition, the quality of our individual sessions was remarkable. We have world-class educators working in our field and sharing their ideas at our conference. Finally, I would like to send a “shout-out” to Russell Greene who managed the technical side of the HED sessions. His attention to detail allowed our sessions to unfold flawlessly. Thank you, everyone!
New ideas are appearing on the horizon. One benefit of having open discussion with colleagues is the generation of new ideas. One idea that has risen to the top is a proposed collaboration between the Higher Education and Collegiate divisions in developing a lesson plan competition. The goal of this competition would be to inspire and motivate pre-service teachers to present their lesson plans in an adjudicated forum similar to All-State. After all, teaching is also a performance-based activity. Participants would receive feedback from experts and discuss their plans with peers. Another idea is the development of a mentoring program that would connect novice and veteran educators. Teacher attrition is a major problem in our field and we can work toward changing these trends by supporting new teachers through mentoring programs. I believe both programs have the potential to positively impact our field.
Please encourage other faculty members to join AMEA. Through this organization, all higher education faculty can make connections with Pk-12 educators and attract new students to their programs. These opportunities exist not only for studio instructors and ensemble directors, but also for composition, theory, and history professors. Let’s build the bridges that allow young people to transition from high school into college and onto rewarding professional careers. Participating in this professional organization is an important first step.

HED: Best Practices in Challenging Times

Back in August, my institution held its annual Faculty Institute as a virtual conference. I had reservations at first, but later found it to be outstanding! The upcoming 2021 AMEA Conference will also be held in a virtual format. Based on my prior experience, I am confident in saying that the 2021 AMEA Conference may be the best conference that you have ever attended!

We’ve included all of the elements that you’ve come to expect at a “first-rate” music conference. There will be two General Sessions with awards and keynote speakers. Our exhibitors will be there and you will be able to interact with them via Networking Lounges. There will be a Research Poster Session and an HED Recital. In addition, there will be a virtual happy hour that we are calling “Cocktails with Colleagues.” But just when it couldn’t get any better, we are hosting six presentations that will enlighten and inspire you. These sessions will focus on best practices in a variety of music education areas. But wait, there is more! For the price of admission, you will also have access to three pre-recorded bonus sessions. Kudo’s to the AMEA governing board. They have certainly covered all of the bases!

There is still time to get involved. Research poster applications are being accepted until Nov. 2. Go to the myamea.org website and click on Dr. Jane Kuene’s box with the title Research Poster Update for details. Applications for the HED Recital will be accepted until Nov. 15. Contact Dr. Carly Johnson at cjjohnson@alasu.edu for more information.

HED Studio Instructor Survey

In mid-September, we sent out an informal survey to 191 studio instructors across Alabama to investigate the impact of the COVID pandemic on college-level music instruction. We received responses from 38 instructors. Some responses were anticipated but others provided interesting insights into the future of music education.

Results indicated that most instructors utilized a combination of virtual and in-person instruction (63.16%) while some taught completely online (26.32%) and others taught completely in- person (26.32%). A majority of instructors used Zoom (68.42%) to interact with their students, a few employed Google Meet (7.89%), and no instructor used Microsoft Teams. Individual instructors reported using programs such as Rock Out Loud; Facetime; Facebook and Zoom; and Cleanfeed. As expected, many instructors incorporated hardware devices such as microphones, mixers, digital to analog converters, and various recording devices into their instruction. The collection of brand names and models, however, was beyond the scope of this investigation. In addition, instructors utilized web-based programs such as YouTube (51.35%), SmartMusic (13.51%), FlipGrid (5.41%), and others like GoReact, OBS, DaVinci Resolve, Cleanfeed, Logic – Final Cut Pro, and Loopback to support their instruction.

Some of the more interesting findings may have come from the instructors’ responses to two open-ended questions: “Have any unforeseen benefits come from your virtual instruction? and “What information would you like to share with others about your experience? Responses to the first question organized themselves into four emergent themes (a) Instructional Environment, (b) Self-Evaluation, (c) Attention to Detail, and (d) Learning about Technology. Instructors felt comfortable working from home, noticed that introverted students talked more in the online format, used lesson time more effectively, and dealt with fewer student absences. They also recognized the benefits of having students evaluate their own recorded performances. Students put more effort into their lesson preparation resulting in greater progress. In addition, instructors witnessed an increase in their students’ attention to detail. Vocalists paid more attention to diction while instrumentalists focused on nuances such as hand position. The instructors themselves acknowledged development in their ability to deliver more concise

and effective verbal instruction while the students improved their skills in turning verbal instruction into physical execution. Finally, the pandemic forced instructors and students to learn more about technology. Both found new ways to utilize technology and increased their fluency in a variety of applications. For example, instructors learned to record their instruction, create pedagogical videos, and store PowerPoint presentations for future use. They also learned that guest artists can be included in their lessons easily.

Responses to the second open-ended question (What information would you like to share with others about your experience?) provided further insight. The instructors came to accept the benefits of online instruction and acknowledged that a combination of virtual and in-person instruction worked better that only online or only in-person lessons. Several took the time to remind us about the importance of remaining positive and flexible in these challenging times.

Keep in mind, the results of this survey are limited to its participants and do not generalize to a larger population. All opinions are my own. These findings, however, provide insight into the changes that are taking place within institutions of higher education across Alabama. Further investigation is warranted.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Eric Perry, a doctoral graduate assistant at the University of Alabama, for his help in constructing and administering the survey. He handled the technological “nuts and bolts” turning my ideas into reality. This survey would not have been possible without his efforts. Additional words of appreciate go out to Dr. Carl Hancock for introducing me to Mr. Perry. Thank you, Carl!

I look forward to seeing everyone at the conference.

HED: The New Abnormal

I never thought that I would want to go back to school this bad. (That’s abnormal.) I’ve got plenty of work to do, and plenty of stress to deal with. But to be honest, I miss my students and I miss being a music teacher. If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. A school is a unique microcosm filled with its own relationships and interactions. Throw music into the mix and it’s a great place to be. Why would I want to be anywhere else? I’m ready to rehearse!

Our professional organizations have exceeded every expectation during these trying times. Normally large organizations move slowly, but the speed at which they have addressed this pandemic has been amazing. (That’s abnormal.) Visit the NAfME COVID-19 website at https://nafme.org/ covid-19/. You’ll probably stay longer than you anticipated. NAfME has assembled a comprehensive collection of resources that will benefit all music educators. In addition, everyone should read the College Band Directors National Association’s report at https://www.cbdna.org/about/the-cbdna-report/. This report will answer questions posed by even the most demanding administrators. From a different perspective, more information is available on the American Choral Directors Association site at https://acda.org/advocacy/. To find online teaching strategies, my favorite site is http://kpcrossacademy.org/. The K Patricia Cross Academy presents numerous teaching strategies with video recordings and instructional resources targeting college professors that can also be modified for use with all grade levels. Finally, don’t forget about AMEA’s Alternative Music Teaching Resources folder at https://myamea.us. There’s plenty of information to go around.

News for music education faculty: The ALSDE has removed the Praxis Core Basic Skills Exam from the list of requirements for students applying to enter Educator Preparation Programs. (That’s “abnormal”!) Hopefully, more students will enter these programs and reverse the growing teacher shortage. Let’s also congratulate faculty members from Troy University, Samford University, and the University of Alabama – Huntsville who have recently earned approval for their Class B, Alternative A, and Class A Choral and Instrumental programs by the ALSDE. Every child in Alabama deserves to be taught by a highly qualified music educator.

Researchers take note: Applications to present research posters at the 2021 AMEA conference will be accepted until Nov, 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Go to the AMEA website for more details. In addition, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is continuing its AERA Grants Program. This program provides small grants and training for researchers who conduct studies using quantitative methods. Apply before Sept. 10, 2020 at https://www.aera.net/Professional-Opportunities-Funding/AERA-Funding- Opportunities/Grants-Program.

Kudos to HED past-president Mildred Lanier for encouraging Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to proclaim March 2020 as “Music In Our Schools Month.” Ms. Lanier’s advocacy efforts can be an inspiration to all us. Let’s set a goal to continue this tradition. Wouldn’t it be great if every school and municipality celebrated MIOSM? Now, there’s an “abnormal” to aim for!

HED: Greetings colleagues!

Greetings colleagues! With great excitement and anticipation, I welcome my new appointment as president of the Higher Education Division of the AMEA. I appreciate your confidence in my abilities and look forward to serving the members of this great organization. My predecessor Mildred Lanier was an effective leader and I will work diligently to maintain her standard of excellence.

Over the past sixth months, the world has become a different place. I commend all of your efforts to remain connected to your students. Music educators are amazing people! Although this pandemic has had negative impacts on us, it has also pushed us into the future.

Video conferencing is now ubiquitous and widely accepted as a communication tool. I can’t count how many video conferences and webinars I’ve been on in the past few months. How did we get along without Zoom and Google Meet? My technology skills have taken a major step forward and I hope yours have too. Recognize that we are living through a major transformation in education. I’m not heralding the death of the traditional classroom, but accepting that video conferencing now has a permanent place in our educator’s toolbox.

I’d like to acknowledge the AMEA Executive Board for its proactive response to the pandemic. I attended the Town Hall Meeting (video conference) on April 20 and found it very engaging. Phil Wilson and Susan Smith provided practical strategies and expressed our collective uneasiness. More meetings are on the way so monitor your email and the AMEA website for future dates.

In addition to the Town Hall, AMEA has added a new Alternative Music Teaching Resources link on its homepage. Developed by Carl Hancock, the resources are organized by specialization and contain links to helpful sources recommended by AMEA members. Remember, this resource is not only for P-12 educators. We need your help in identifying websites and strategies that are useful in higher education.

I’d also like to commend the Alabama State Board of Education for easing internship requirements this semester. Music education interns across the state were not able to complete their 16 weeks in the classroom. The SBOE granted full credit to those students for their time in the classroom and also created a temporary educator certificate so that the interns can apply for jobs in the fall. I hope the SBOE also considers easing the 161 cut-score on the Praxis exam.

This year, NAfME is combining its annual conference with the biennial Music Research and Teacher Education Conference. It is scheduled to take place in Orlando, FL from Nov. 4-8. One goal of this combined conference is to facilitate the interaction of P-12 educators and faculty.

Speaking of interactions, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of personal interaction in our personal and professional lives. We are busy people, but we also need time to develop relationships with people who are important to us. Lesson learned – life is more musical when we have relationships that keep our hearts beating and inspire our imaginations.

Best wishes for all!

Michael Zelenak, HED President

HED: Reflect, Be Creative, and Engage

Have you reflected lately on what drew you to a career in music? Have you reflected lately on the depth of creativity that has been born out of your love for music? Have you reflected lately on the intellectual exploration of music that has challenged how you engage in critical discourse, teaching, and performing of music? If you have not reflected lately, the sessions to be presented by the Higher Education Division at the 2020 AMEA Professional Development Conference will allow you to do just that and more.

I am excited to come together with all of you, my colleagues, from across the state to reflect, to be creative, and engage in intellectual discourse. The HED is excited to learn from presenters from around the state. We are excited about topics on music curriculum, developing singers, next generation music leaders, self-efficacy, and much, much more. You don’t want to miss any of the sessions that will allow you to reflect, refresh, and redirect to go to the next level of your personal music expression.

As we feed our musical mind at the round table session and poster session, we will also feed our body at the HED luncheon, so please make sure to reserve your seat by emailing me. And not to be forgotten, we will feed our musical soul with ensemble performances at the HED recital. These musical gatherings and sessions will provide the opportunity for holistic music reflection for spirit, soul, and body.

Now is a good time for each of us to begin to reflect on our personal “why” about music and make plans to attend the 2020 AMEA Conference in Montgomery. If you have questions or want to reserve your seat at the HED luncheon, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (mlanier@jeffersonstate.edu)

HED: From the President!

Have you reflected lately on what drew you to a career in music? Have you reflected lately on the depth of creativity that has been born out of your love for music? Have you reflected lately on the intellectual exploration of music that has challenged how you engage in critical discourse, teaching, and performing of music? If you have not reflected lately, the sessions to be presented by the Higher Education Division at the 2020 AMEA Professional Development Conference will allow you to do just that and more.

I am excited to come together with all of you, my colleagues, from across the state to reflect, to be creative, and engage in intellectual discourse. The HED is excited to learn from presenters from around the state. We are excited about topics on music curriculum, developing singers, next-generation music leaders, self-efficacy, and much, much more. You don’t want to miss any of the sessions that will allow you to reflect, refresh, and redirect to go to the next level of your personal music expression.

As we feed our musical mind at the round table session and poster session, we will also feed our body at the HED luncheon, so please make sure to reserve your seat by emailing me. And not to be forgotten, we will feed our musical soul with ensemble performances at the HED recital. These musical gatherings and sessions will provide the opportunity for holistic music reflection for spirit, soul, and body.

Now is a good time for each of us to begin to reflect on our personal “why” about music and make plans to attend the 2020 AMEA Conference in Montgomery. If you have questions or want to reserve your seat at the HED luncheon, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (mlanier@jeffersonstate.edu).

HED: From the President!

Dynamic, stimulating, challenging, and exciting are words that describe the atmosphere, performances, and academic discourse that took place at the 2019 AMEA Professional Development Conference. There was something to satisfy everyone’s intellectual and artistic interest. And it was only possible because of the wonderful student and faculty performances, expert presenters and panelists, research presentations, and memorable keynote speaker.

When I attend the AMEA conferences, I always come away renewed and so proud of our profession, and I was not disappointed this year. The commitment of faculty to expose young people to the beauty and complexity of music and prepare and stretch future music educators did not go unnoticed. As faculty at colleges and universities, our continued collaboration and support of one another was on display throughout the conference. That unity created beautiful harmony and teamwork. Thank you for all you do to make our HED Division progressive and strong.

Now what’s next? The AMEA Board and HED Officers are anticipating the 2020 Conference in Montgomery, Alabama. The opportunity to perform, bring your ensemble, or be a presenter or presider is available. No, it’s not too soon to begin thinking about how you can get involved. Go ahead and begin thinking about a presentation topic that you might want to submit. Go ahead and visualize your ensemble performing on stage. We want to make the 2020 conference bigger and better and we need “you.”

As you settle into the spring semester, I hope that the love you have for music continues to stir your passion to new heights. If you have comments, suggestions, or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (mlanier@jeffersonstate.edu).

HED: From the President!

Another semester full of students, private lessons, performing ensembles, and teaching schedules; it’s a new fall term and time to educate more aspiring music educators and performers. Best of all, the 2019 AMEA Professional Development Conference will be fast approaching. I can’t wait and I hope you’re looking forward to it too.

Once again, we will gather together in Birmingham and enjoy conference sessions, performances, and collegiate fellowship. The HED is excited about the variety of sessions including operetta, performance and intelligence, percussion and woodwind collaboration, EdTPA, addressing “isms” in the classrooms, and much more.

The poster session is also on our conference schedule and I am confident we will not be disappointed with the depth of scholarly research presented. For more information, visit http://amea-research.org.

Not to be missed is the HED recital that is always a high point during the conference because of the wonderful student and faculty vocal and instrumental performances. We hope many new and returning ensembles from across the state will grace the stage. Please contact me if you have a student ensemble that you would like to present or if you and fellow faculty would like to be included on the program.

Until we meet in Birmingham, may each of you have a successful semester as you teach and inspire your students. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments at (mlanier@jeffersonstate.edu).

HED News!

Beck Halliday

As we approach the end of the 2017-2018 school year, I would like to wish the AMEA membership a happy summer. Many of the institutes of higher education offer professional development and summer programs to develop musicianship in people of all ages. I hope you will visit the websites of our Alabama colleges and universities to see if you and your students can benefit from these opportunities.

The Higher Education Division continues to grow and develop as we strengthen our collaboration with the Collegiate Division. Our combined mixer and the HED recitals at the AMEA conferences have given faculty and students opportunities to interact in a variety of settings. In addition, our membership throughout the state continues to grow as more faculty members see the benefits of joining our organization. During my time as President, I have enjoyed working with the HED and the AMEA Executive Council, and I look forward to supporting the vision of the incoming officers: Mildred Lanier, President; Katrina Phillips, President-Elect, and Secretary-Treasurer Michael Zelenak.

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