Dakota Teacher Wins Music Room Makeover

In Tune Makeover Provides North Dakota Music Program with a New Spark

MENC member Nancy Olson posed with some of her music students after the music room presentation in November. Buffett Crampton was one of six sponsors who worked with In Tune in presenting the makeover contest.

In November 2008, Bottineau High School in Bottineau, North Dakota, received more than $30,000 in new music instruments and equipment, a major boost for the music program there. Bottineau music teacher Nancy Olson entered In Tune Monthly magazine’s Ultimate National Music Room Makeover contest in spring 2008, writing an essay in which she described her school’s ancient music equipment and her town’s closely-knit community.

Olson’s essay was picked from more than 400 entries. “She wrote an essay that really shows how she feels about the Bottineau community, how she feels about her kids,” said Irwin Kornfeld, CEO of In Tune Partners, publishers of In Tune Monthly. The magazine is distributed to more than 42,000 middle school and high school classrooms across the country.

A few weeks after receiving the equipment, Olson told MENC, “I hope to explore teaching a theory and composition class. I think this would give students a chance to express themselves in more ways.” A new jazz band may be on the horizon, too.

The MENC member added, “Winning this contest and receiving all of this wonderful equipment has put a new spark in my program from my beginning students up through the high school students. My junior high percussionist all of a sudden can’t wait to learn how to play the trap set. Many of the students have a new interest in things that they didn’t have before.”

When asked how the donation changed her music classes, Olson said, “We are slowly getting used to the new CD recorder, and I am hoping to purchase a speaker to match the one we were given so we can replace the old, worn-out ones that we have. Both enhance our sound system greatly. We also now have a portable microphone and stand which will come in handy with many things that we do. the high school guitar class is spending some time with the new electric guitars andamp, new to our guitar class. We will also use the (new) bass guitar in that class.”

She added, “There is a big student interest in learning how to play the guitar and the trap set. Many students are willing to invest more time into music activities that we didn’t have available before. They are also really proud to be playing these new and special instruments. Before I did not have the capability to record a CD. Now I do, so we will be able to submit auditions via CD  instead of cassette tapes.”

Six sponsors—Peavey Corporation, Roland, Pearl Drums, Notion Music, Promark Drumsticks, and Buffet Crampon—provided the equipment for the annual contest.

Visit the Bottineau school district Web site for more information on the makeover.

Roz Fehr, February 11, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education.