Brian L. Saylor
2020-2022 North Central Division President-Elect Candidate
Originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota, Brian L. Saylor earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Mr. Saylor has completed Level One and Two Orff-Schulwerk Certification from the University of Kentucky, and he completed his Master’s Degree in Elementary Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Mr. Saylor is currently in his 22nd year of teaching and has had extensive experience in elementary music education and middle school choir. He is currently beginning his 6th year as the Director of Choral Activities at Bismarck High School. Mr. Saylor is currently the director of four performing choirs at Bismarck High School, including the Freshman Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, and Concert Choir. His duties also include directing the Genesis Jazz Choir and the New Generation Jazz Choir, which perform extensively across the Bismarck-Mandan Area.
Mr. Saylor has served as President of the North Dakota Music Educators Association (NDMEA) and is currently holding the position of Past-President. He has also served as the West Region Choral Representative of NDMEA and as a board member for the North Dakota American Choral Directors Association (NDACDA) as the Repertoire/Standards Chair for High School Choirs and Show Choirs. Mr. Saylor has chaired several educational committees, including as an Elementary Title One Coordinator and the AdvancedEd Team for Bismarck High School. Mr. Saylor has presented multiple times at the North Dakota Music Educators Conference and the South Dakota Music Educators Conference. He has also repeatedly submitted professional development articles for the NDMEA Journal, NDACDA Chorister, and is an active advocate for music education at the local, state and national level. Mr. Saylor has served as performer, clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor throughout the region. Brian and his wife Becky have two children, Brady and Brianna.
What do you see as the major challenges facing music education during your term as president?
Recently there has been great cause for celebration in music education. Music has been enumerated as a core subject in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is a direct result of NAfME’s advocacy efforts over the last ten years. Numerous studies have pointed to the value of music education for all students, and with proper resources there are many school districts in the US that serve as shining examples of music education.
However, we are currently facing a shortage of highly qualified music teachers in numerous states. Many states are proposing the option of alternate licensure and are often considering granting a teaching licensure to those who have had no formal training in music curriculum, education, or pedagogy. This is a direct result of the No Child Left Behind legislation, which valued standardized tests, lower-order thinking skills, and lack of focus on longitudinal educational gains. We have lost a large number of creative thinkers in education due to scripted curricula and a focus on short-term “teaching to the test” gains.
What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?
NAfME is being asked to respond and adapt to a constantly changing world. Many younger educators would prefer to do their professional development via social media over attending a conference. Due to the fact NAfME is a multi-generational organization, we need to create and maintain a balance of traditional offerings of conferences and in-person meetings with a more consumer-driven, technology-based approach. Additionally, we need to promote the connection between experienced music educators with beginning music educators in meaningful mentor-mentee relationships. These relationships have the potential to benefit all invested music educators. The collegiate presence at National Assembly as well as increased involvement among our affiliated state MEAs has been one approach that is currently helping engage future music educators.
In addition to professional development and teacher support, we also must realize the value of continued advocacy towards equity. ALL students deserve equal access to quality music education provided by a highly-qualified music educator.
How should our Association respond to these challenges?
I believe that NAfME must maintain our advocacy efforts at the federal level while expanding our advocacy efforts in every state MEA. NAfME should build connections between school districts that exemplify adequately-supported music education with those schools who are emerging as leaders in music education. Another ongoing challenge that NAfME must address is fostering effective Band, Choir, General Music, and Orchestra instruction, while continuing to explore nontraditional courses and ensembles as a means to engage ALL students.