A Memorable Music Research Event in the Peach State
By Ella Wilcox
Cutting-edge music education research drew a crowd earlier this month in Atlanta, Georgia! More than 650 teacher-educators, researchers, and college students attended the March 17–19, 2016, Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, held in Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel.
The Music Research and Teacher Education Conference in Atlanta enabled me to capture the latest information on advancements in the field of music education, review recent ESSA legislation and its impact, and tackle difficult topics: teacher evaluation, gender issues, and licensure reciprocity.
Presenters shared more than 300 sessions on dozens of cutting-edge music education topics. According to Mark A. Propst, a performing arts specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina, “The Music Research and Teacher Education Conference in Atlanta enabled me to capture the latest information on advancements in the field of music education, review recent ESSA legislation and its impact, and tackle difficult topics: teacher evaluation, gender issues, and licensure reciprocity. As a Music Program Leader, I have confronted each of these issues this year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The short 30-minute sessions are ideal for covering a broad spectrum of presentations. Thanks to the NAfME research community for helping me build my professional capacity.”
Ben Cameron (shown below) of the Jerome Foundation gave a thought-provoking keynote address on changes in the arts in America. He compared the current rise of self-made music and art (and consumption of these media through the Internet and online services) to the religious Reformation of the 16th century, which gave rise to increased access to what people wanted. Read his full text here.
At this general session, members of the Centennial High School Orchestra of Rosewell, Georgia, treated attendees to a collection of pieces from standard chamber repertoire.
Three well-attended Research Poster sessions recapped recent research in categories that included adult education, assessment, exceptionalities, social justice, teacher education, professional development for beginning and experienced teachers, and the social sciences.
I learned a great deal from scholars that will impact my teaching and research immediately.
A first-rate local ensemble, the Johns Creek High School Strings (below), lent a delightful ambience to a wine-and-cheese reception at the first Poster Session. The group, directed by Young Keun Kim, performed a variety of classical and popular pieces for the presenters and their audience.
Jill M. Sullivan of Arizona State University, Tempe, said of the event: The 2016 NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference was a huge success. I learned a great deal from scholars that will impact my teaching and research immediately. Many of the sessions I attended were standing-room-only, which made these sessions more vibrant. For example, the Gender Special Research Interest Group (SRIG) had over 80 people in attendance to hear three wonderful papers with one in particular on a topic I’ll never forget—black-feminist pedagogy, presented by Paula A. Grissom-Broughton of Atlanta’s Spelman College. Another notable presentation was given by Jim Austin and Joshua A. Russell: “A National Survey of Graduate Music Education Courses Focused on Assessment.”
Symposia and colloquia featured topics ranging from political action in music education to conducting research in a digital age to the latest findings on bullying. SRIG sessions examined music teacher education, the ethics of assessment, creativity, history, philosophy, and ways to support beginning music teachers. As Jill Sullivan commented, “I was fascinated by the History SRIG sessions, especially two papers on women’s bands given by Philip Hash and Brian Meyers.” Area for Strategic Planning and Action (ASPA) sessions tackled problems in teacher evaluation, curriculum, school-university partnerships, and other critical areas.
Sullivan especially enjoyed the Senior Researcher Award acceptance speech by Wendy L. Sims of the University of Missouri–Columbia. Sims, the recipient of this year’s award, pictured below with NAfME President Glenn E. Nierman and Chair of the Society for Research in Music Education Executive Committee Bob Duke, gave a shout-out to many folks in the research community and at NAfME who had supported her on her journey to this event. Her speech will be published in the October 2016 issue of the Journal of Research in Music Education.
The Atlanta conference was a wonderful opportunity to make or renew professional connections, to be inspired by the research of the presenters, and to be challenged by the stimulating discussions.
Attendees had numerous networking opportunities both within the Westin and in the surrounding community. Sullivan said, “The venue was terrific—set in a bustling area of Atlanta with restaurants and shops all around made time away from the conference convenient and enjoyable. The service and quality of food at the alumni reception our university hosted was outstanding.” Some conference-goers also visited local attractions such as the nearby Centennial Olympic Park, the Center for Civil and Human Rights (including a terrific big-screen video of the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech), the immense Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca-Cola exhibit.
Be part of the action in March 22–24, 2018, when the next biennial Music Research and Teacher Education Conference will take place at the Westin Peachtree location.
In the words of James South, chair of the 2016 event and provost at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, “The Atlanta conference was a wonderful opportunity to make or renew professional connections, to be inspired by the research of the presenters, and to be challenged by the stimulating discussions. I encourage you to make plans to attend the conference in 2018—you’ll be glad you did!”