Tom Muller Biography


Tom Muller

Tom Muller

2017-2019 Northwest Division President-Elect Candidate



Candidate Biography and Statement


Tom Muller is currently in his twenty-second year of teaching, and is the Associate Director of Bands at David Douglas High School.  Most recently, he has also been named the Music Supervisor for the David Douglas School District.  He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1994.  Mr. Muller has served as the President of the Oregon Band Directors Association, and has been a member of the Oregon Music Educators Association Board of Control at various times since 1998. He is the current Past-President of the Oregon Music Education Association after completing his two-year term as President of the Association, and also the Chair of the OSAA State Solo Championship.  He is the past Middle School Honor Band Chair, as well as a Past Second Vice-President for OMEA.  Mr. Muller was also the 2005 and 2012 Conference Chair, where he planned the statewide Conventions for the Oregon Music Education Association.  He served as the Jazz Chair for the 2011 All-Northwest Jazz ensemble and helped to organize the NAfME Northwest Division Conference.  In 1996, Mr. Muller was the recipient of the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award for Excellence in First-year Teaching, and has been honored by Alpha Delta Kappa for his service to education.  Most recently, he was inducted into Phi Beta Mu.

Mr. Muller also maintains an active playing career and has an extensive French horn studio in the East Portland Metro area, where his students consistently perform in state and regional honor bands.  His students also regularly compete and score well at regional and state solo contests, with many top 10 placers at the OSAA State Solo Championship, along with a number of State Champions.  Along with his lesson studio, Mr. Muller also is frequently asked to adjudicate band festivals, solo and ensemble festivals, and conduct regional honor bands.


What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term as president?

The biggest challenge will be seeing what kind of impact ESSA has on music education.  Working to have ESSA fully funded, especially Title IV, will need to be a focus for all of the state and national leaders.  Along with the funding allocation, state and national leaders will need to help at the local level with advocacy for individual districts.  Materials and advocacy strategies will definitely need to be a focus.


What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?

Diversity has been a major focus of NAfME since last spring, so it seems that this would be considered a major challenge.  Continuing to grow the membership continues to be mentioned in the Northwest division meetings, and should also be considered a challenge.


How should NAfME respond to these challenges?

In regards to diversity, NAfME should continue its current efforts to increase the level of diversity within the membership.  Teaching in a highly diverse, and low socio-economic part of Portland has allowed me to teach students from many cultures and backgrounds.  In our own way, the music faculty at David Douglas High School have been increase the level of music education students by simply encouraging students to pursue a career in the field.  There are certainly built in limitations in geographical areas that are not as diverse, but teachers who are in areas such as my district need to find those students who they feel would be good music teachers.   Because of the population we serve, this will naturally increase the level of diversity over time.  As these levels increase, there should be a mentorship program available within the Association to create a support system for young teachers of a variety of cultures.  A teacher who is African-American, Hispanic, or Latino knows firsthand the challenges they face, and once successful and established, would be able to help young teachers overcome obstacles they might encounter.

To increase the membership, NAfME needs to do a better job with reaching new teachers at the local level.  Membership drives need include information and benefits relevant to each state.  In Oregon, there is sometimes a belief that the national office does not know the challenges music teachers face out West.  Many of the benefits of membership do not reach the state level.  NAfME should develop a second tier of benefits where potential members from each state, or at least each division can find materials or information specific to their geographical region.