For Immediate Release
Contact: Catherina Hurlburt at NAfME or (703) 860-4000

Dr. Alice Hammel Honored as
2023 Lowell Mason Fellow

RESTON, VA (July 27, 2023)—In June, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) honored Dr. Alice Hammel, professor of music education at James Madison University and professor of music theory at Virginia Commonwealth University, as the 2023 Lowell Mason Fellow. This distinction is one of music education’s most important honors, designed to recognize the accomplishments of music educators, music education advocates, political leaders, industry professionals, and others who have contributed to music education in their unique way. Dr. Hammel was recognized as the 2023 Lowell Mason Fellow during the NAfME National Leadership Assembly in Washington, DC, attended by music educators and association leadership from around the country.

Alice Hammel headshot 2023

“It was truly my honor as National President to recognize the outstanding achievements of one of our most esteemed colleagues during our National Leadership Assembly celebration,” said Scott R. Sheehan, NAfME President and Board Chair. “Alice Hammel has served as a leader in our profession in many capacities, and her stalwart dedication as educator, advocate, musician, and colleague has had a tremendous impact across the entire country. Her focus of providing students with differing abilities a voice and place in music education has made Alice a leading authority in this area, and her transformative work is held in the highest regard. She is among America’s finest music educators and is most deserving of this recognition and honor. On behalf of the National Executive Board, we offer our sincere congratulations to Alice Hammel for all she has done and continues to do for all students and for music education.”

Alice Hammel is the current president of the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA). In addition to being a member of the faculty at James Madison University, she has many years of experience teaching instrumental and choral music in public and private schools. Dr. Hammel also teaches online courses through many institutions throughout the United States and has maintained a large, independent flute studio for more than 35 years.

Dr. Alice Hammel at podium wearing Lowell Mason Fellow medal standing in front of NAfME logo backdrop

Dr. Alice Hammel at the 2023 NAfME National Leadership Assembly. Photo: © Ashlee Wilcox Photography, LLC

Dr. Hammel travels widely to universities during the school year to serve as in-residence scholar in the area of students with special needs. During the summer months she teaches in graduate programs for music educators, and her expertise in those teaching situations ranges from musicianship, pedagogy, and teaching students who learn differently. She is the co-author of four texts: A Label-Free Approach (third edition), Teaching Music to Students with Autism (second edition), Winding It Back: Teaching to Individual Differences in Music Classroom and Ensemble Settings, and Teaching Music to Students with Differences and Disabilities: A Practical Resource (second edition) available through Oxford University Press. Dr. Hammel is also a contributing author to a variety of NAfME resources and has published widely in music, arts, special, and general education journals.

Dr. Hammel has presented multiple workshops through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and serves on the committee for the Kennedy Center National Forum: Examining the Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education, as well as serving on their planning committee for their annual national conference.

“Alice has provided workshops, presentations, and residencies for school districts, universities, and conferences in at least 33 U.S. states and three countries, and these always leave the participants awakened, inspired, and in some cases, fundamentally changed,” noted Dr. Bruce Hammel, Associate Professor of Music, Virginia Commonwealth University. “Countless times I have witnessed people approach Alice at conferences around the country thanking her for her help and expertise. They frequently share stories of breakthroughs they have experienced with their students following one of her presentations.”

“Dr. Hammel’s lifelong interest in ensuring the needs of all students are met in the music classroom has improved the field through her scholarly pursuits and teaching efforts,” added Annamarie Bollino, who is Coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts, Stafford County Public Schools, Virginia; chair of the NAfME Council of Music Program Leaders; and VMEA Immediate Past-President. “Her practice is grounded in the steadfast belief that all students have gifts to be celebrated in the music classroom, and she shares that belief, along with useful, research-based strategies, to support the work of teachers in the field.”

“First and foremost, Alice Hammel is a ‘teacher’s teacher’ and an award-winning music educator,” stated Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy, Director of Choral Activities, Associate Professor of Choirs, Conducting, Choral Music Education, James Madison University. “The November 2017 VMEA Conference saw the institution of the Dr. Alice M. Hammel Inclusion in Music Education Award from James Madison University, for which she was the first recipient. This award was specifically instituted to both honor Dr. Hammel’s lifetime work for students with special needs, as well as highlight the need for all teachers to be more expert in terms of inclusion in music education settings for all learning populations. . . . Admired and loved, Alice Hammel’s capacities to vision, to create, to inspire, to pioneer the new, to champion the rights of all students to learn, and to create learning communities where, every day, all students are ‘both safe and challenged’ are some of her strongest and most enduring qualities.”

“She is internationally renowned as a steadfast champion of students with differences and disabilities,” shared Dr. Berta Yee, music educator in Halifax County Public Schools. “In her roles as author, researcher, and clinician, Dr. Hammel has generously shared her insights, expertise, and advocacy.”

The prestigious Lowell Mason Fellows award is named for educator, musician, and composer of more than 1,600 hymn tunes, Lowell Mason, who is considered to be the father of public school music education in the United States. He has been credited with introducing music instruction to American public schools in the 19th century, and with establishing teacher training in music education. In 2002, the importance of his contributions to music education inspired NAfME to create the Lowell Mason Fellows award.

Lowell Mason Fellow designations also provide an opportunity to support the efforts of NAfME through the donation made in the honoree’s name. This donation goes to NAfME to support future generations of music educators through the organization’s programs. Individuals or groups (corporations, universities, foundations, student organizations, etc.) may fund designations.

Read more about the Lowell Mason Fellows distinction and past recipients of the honor on this page.


The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is a collaborative community that supports music educators and advocates for equitable access to music education. The only association that addresses all aspects of music education, NAfME, together with its affiliated state music education associations, advocates at the national, state, and local levels and provides resources and opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Founded in 1907 and representing more than 53,000 members teaching millions of students, NAfME advances the music education profession and promotes lifelong experiences in music.

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April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

July 27, 2023


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