2015 Lowell Mason Fellows
Cecil Wilder is the executive director of the Georgia Music Educators Association. As a respected high school band director, past president of GMEA and now executive director, the impact of music education on students has always been at the forefront. Many of his students have become music educators as well.
Mr. Wilder attended Auburn University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1966. He taught in Elmore County, Alabama and Columbus, and Clayton County, Georgia. He finished his teaching career in 1996. Mr. Wilder has directed high school bands at the 1979 and 1981 GMEA Conferences, the 1983 SEUS Clinic at Troy University and the 1985 MidWest Band and Orchestra Clinic. He also conducted the Clayton County Honor Orchestra which performed at the GMEA Conference in 1990 and 1992.
In addition to his high school teaching career, Mr. Wilder has also served in several capacities with the Miss Georgia Pageant Orchestra, including director from 1969-1979. He is Principal Trombone with the Atlanta 17 big band and has served as and adjudicator and clinician in several states. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Clayton State College and Auburn University.
In addition to teaching and serving in the leadership of GMEA, Mr. Wilder has also been inducted into the National High School Band Directors Hall of Fame and the Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu Georgia Band Masters Hall of Fame, and he received the 2002 GMEA Distinguished Career Award.
Glenn E. Nierman, NAfME President for 2014-2016, is currently a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music faculty. He teaches graduate classes in research and curriculum development, as well as a non-major popular music guitar class. His public school teaching experience includes work with middle school general music and choir, as well as high school band and orchestra. Glenn, a Past President of NAfME’s North Central Division and a Past President of the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA), also served his state as the Chairperson of College/University Affairs and Chairperson of the Coalition for Music Education, the advocacy arm of NMEA. In these positions he organized the state’s first Music Mentor Program for beginning music educators and helped to draft legislation debated before the Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee to promote the need for standards in the arts.
Dr. Nierman has authored many journal articles, made numerous presentations at NAFME Conferences, and given addresses at World Congresses of the International Society of Music Education (ISME) around the world. He has authored chapters in NAFME’s Benchmarks in Action and Spotlight on Assessment publications. Honors and awards include recognition for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and receipt of the Steinhart Distinguished Endowed Professorship in Music Education. He holds a B.M. in Music Education from Washburn University (Kansas), and M.M. and D.M.E. degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
An internationally recognized choral director, Henry Leck is professor emeritus and recently retired director of choral activities at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is currently the Founder and Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir which is in its 29 season. This organization is one of the largest and most respected children’s choir programs in the world. The touring choirs of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir have performed regularly for national ACDA, MENC, OAKE and AOSA Conferences. Additionally, the ICC tours internationally every year and has sung throughout the world. Mr. Leck arranged and conducted the national anthem for Kelly Clarkson and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir at the Super Bowl XLVI.
Mr. Leck has conducted Mixed, Men’s, Women’s, Junior High and Children’s All-State choirs and festival choirs in nearly every state. He is a frequent conductor of regional and national honor choirs, including the ACDA Southern, Southwest, North Central, Central, Western and Northwest Honors Choirs. In the spring of 2003, he conducted the ACDA National Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir in New York City and in 2011, the ACDA National Children’s Honor Choir in Chicago. On three occasions he has conducted National Honor Choirs for OAKE. In 2011 Mr. Leck conducted the premiere performance of a seven movement oratorio entitled “Melancholy Beauty” written by Bulgarian composer Georgi Andreev in Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center with adult choruses, children’s choir, Bulgarian women’s choir, Bulgarian folk instruments and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. For twenty-one years, he has conducted the National Youth Choral Festival in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Leck has conducted many international festivals including the Musica Mundi Tuscany Children’s Choir Festival in Italy, the Central European International Children’s Choral Festival, the International Children’s Choir Festival in Beijing, China and the Vienna Children’s & Boys Choir Festival with the Vienna Sangerknaben. He has conducted many times in Brazil, including the Curso Internacional de Regencia Coral in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil where he founded the ARCI Sao Paulo Children’s Honor Choir that he conducts every other year. He recently conducted the Tokyo International High School Honor Choir in Japan. For more than twenty years he has conducted a festival with David Flood at Canterbury Cathedral. He also was recently selected as the U.S. Jurist for the 1st Xinghai Prize International Choir Championships and as an international lecturer for the International Symposium on children and youth choral music in Guangzhou, China. In the summer of 2014, he was a jurist at the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia.
Mr. Leck is widely known as a specialist in choral techniques, the child’s voice, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Laban and the boy’s changing voice. He has produced four teaching videos titled Vocal Techniques for the Young Singer, The Boy’s Expanding Voice: Take the High Road, Creating Artistry through Movement, Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Creating Artistry with the Male Maturing Voice. He was a lead author for the choral textbook series published by McGraw Hill/Glencoe titled Experiencing Choral Music and is also the editor of two nationally known choral series published by Hal Leonard Corporation and Colla Voce, Inc./Plymouth. Each year he teaches his conductor’s workshop titled Creating Artistry at Butler University. He has written a textbook titled, Creating Artistry through Choral Excellence. Mr. Leck received his training from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, the University of Colorado and Indiana University.
Dr. James A. Mason began his music training during his childhood in Springville, Utah. His undergraduate years at Brigham Young University were interrupted when he joined the U.S. Army Band during the Korean War. After completing his bachelors degree, he began his teaching career at the BYU Lab High School. His work there received wide recognition, and after completion of his master’s degree, James Mason was offered a job at Brigham Young University.
During this time, James was also editor of the UMEA journal. His reputation for excellent editorial work which led to his job in Chicago as editor of The Instrumentalist magazine.
Mary Luehrsen is the director of public affairs and government relations for NAMM and executive director of the NAMM Foundation. As a certified music educator, she taught elementary general music and band, and secondary instrumental music for 16 years, managed a professional symphony orchestra and, as an independent consultant, worked with corporate and nonprofit clients in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, and trustee development.
Since 2001, Mary has been a senior executive with NAMM, overseeing the organization’s federal level policy development and government relations efforts around issues effecting access to music education and global commerce in the music industry. In Mary’s role as executive director of the NAMM Foundation, she supports music research, philanthropic and public service programs. Among its activities, the Foundation is supporting a research initiative called the “Sounds of Learning” that will build a portfolio of music education research projects that will inform policy deliberations around the re-authorization of the elementary and secondary education act, the federal education legislation. Mary spearheaded the re-deployment of the Music Education Coalition under the banner of SupportMusic.com. The Coalition has grown to over 200 affiliated national and international organizations working to boost community –based music education advocacy efforts.
Mary was a professional flutist for 20 years.
Steven Schopp—The executive director of the New York State School Music Association, Dr. Schopp is a long-time leader in both NYSSMA and the Eastern Division of NAfME. His teaching career spans 37 years, followed by many years in leadership at NYSSMA/NAfME. His mentorship of music educators is notable as he has helped influence the next generation of music teachers, sharing his experience and expertise.
Upon his graduation from Ithaca College, Mr. Schopp went to the Syosset Public School system on Long Island, NY. He quickly made a name for himself as a band director with success at all three levels teaching at Robbins Lane Elementary School, H.B. Thompson Jr. High School, and Syosset High School. He was then appointed to the position of Secondary Chairperson where he oversaw the growth of the entire Syosset Music Department. It was during his tenure that Syosset became an exemplar school music program. He retained this position until his retirement in 2004.
Mr. Schopp went on to be active in NYSSMA. Again, he quickly rose through the ranks and into a leadership position. He served as the Zone Representative for his local Zone 13. He because the 2nd Vice President, a role which oversees all student activities in the state association. He then went on to serve as the NYSSMA President. In this role, Mr. Schopp continued to support and advocate quality music education for all children in NY. After his Presidency, he went on to chair the NYSSMA Finance Committee. In this role, he worked with many presidents to keep NYSSMA on solid financial footing. He has also served as the Assignor of Adjudicators. This is a critical position for NYSSMA during the spring festival season. This position is extremely time consuming at a point during the year when time is at a premium. He has also served as a member of the NYSSMA Advisory Board.
Mr. Schopp also went on to serve NAfME as the Eastern Division President. This provided him with a perspective to support music education on a bigger scale. After his appointment to the NYSSMA Executive Director post he went on to be the Chairperson for the NAfME Council of State Managers.
Mr. Schopp chose to return to school late in his time at Syosset to pursue his Doctorate in Music Education from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. He was also recently inducted into the LI Music Hall of Fame as an Educator of Note.
Marlynn Likens—The Associate Executive Director of NAfME, overseeing Governance and Policy, Marlynn Likens has been an enthusiastic, passionate, and knowledgeable supporter of music education throughout her 36 years of service to NAfME. Her knowledge, empathy, and appreciation of what music educators do in their daily lives as teachers in the classroom, as advocates for music education, and as leaders in the profession has served to promote music education around the country.
Marlynn has been a tireless worker whose mind is a steel trap when it comes to the history, policies, and all other matters related to NAfME. During her years of service at NAfME, there has never been a question for which she has not been able to find an answer nor a problem she has not been able to solve, always accomplished with kindness, patience, and good humor. Even though her daily work has primarily consisted of managing policies, handling Board events, and keeping Executive Directors, staff, and Board members on track, it is clear that her years of dedication to NAfME would not have been possible without a fundamental passion for the overall mission of the organization and especially for the importance of music in the lives of children in the schools across the country. There is no question that what drives us to do the work in the classroom is what drives Marlynn to do the work of the association each day.