Douglas Orzolek Biography

Doug Orzolek

In its history, NAfME/MENC has served the profession in a variety of capacities: a center of professional development for the profession in its conferences and symposia; a publisher and disseminator of research, practice and ideas related to the many facets of music education; a developer of standards, materials and other resources intended to advance our profession; the lead in our efforts to advocate for music learning across the country and the voice of our profession in our capital; and the profession’s connection to many other stakeholders who impact our work. NAfME and its leadership should be exceptionally proud of its efforts in all of these areas, but it also needs to take stock in its capacity to do all of these things and do them well. And, given the realities of the organization’s current capacity, it is likely that one of those areas might need to be sacrificed to allow the others to flourish.


My personal vision for the organization includes the following ideas. First, NAfME should continue to leader our profession’s national advocacy efforts and extend its efforts to foster strong relationships with other organizations that may serve us in advancing the goal of providing high-quality music education for every child. Second, NAfME should spearhead efforts that are of great importance to ALL music educators—such as defining what it means to be an effective music educator, or the development of assessment tools and models of music teacher evaluation—and disseminate that information through its publications and symposia. This work is paramount and NAfME is in the best position to lead and develop these kinds of things for the profession. Third, NAfME should maintain its status as the gathering place for collaborative work on the issues facing our profession. It is important that those groups continue to share their expertise and advance their respective areas.


My vision also includes a possible change for NAfME related to its role in the professional development of PreK-12 music educators. I believe that, because of their understanding of local issues, the state organizations and/or NAfME regions best support the needs of music teachers since travel budgets, availability of substitutes and other obligations no longer allow educators to travel to national conferences. And, given that so much of what happens in a school is the result of local decisions, a nationally oriented program may not meet the needs of teachers in the most efficient way. NAfME can still serve a role in professional development by lending its knowledge, organizational skills and financial support to states as they plan their events. NAfME might also send keynote speakers and staff to educate state members about national trends and issues that will directly impact schools. This may be the most efficient use of NAfME’s resources and perhaps free some time, energy and money toward areas that could use more attention.


I firmly believe that we need to remember that music education is people business—we teach people through music. We need to continue developing our understanding of how music learning happens, develop effective ways of sharing music that is relevant and pertinent, and find a means to report evidence of our effectiveness in those efforts. I believe that these ideas should be the cornerstone of our profession.


I am currently the past-chair of the NAfME Society for Music Teacher Education and have previously served on that board as the North Central Representative. I am a past-president of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and previously served as its advocacy chair. I also served as the chair of the 2004 National MENC Conference held in Minneapolis. In Minnesota, I have served on a variety of boards and committees that were connected to music education – including co-chair of the state’s Arts Standards Revision Committee. In my position as an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas, I serve as the Director of Graduate Programs in Music Education and Associate Director of Bands where I teach a wide range of courses to both undergraduate and graduate students.


My publications include articles on a wide range of topics including assessment, accountability, evaluation, music teacher education and secondary general music education. I have made presentations at several national and international conferences and I have been a guest conductor for state, regional and conference honor festivals. I hold degrees from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University and the University of Minnesota. I have previously taught in the Vestal (NY) Central Schools, and at Thomas Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minnesota.