NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer Shares Her Inspirational Story and Urges Other Music Educators to Join Her

NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer

  For the past few months, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has been collecting stories from music educators, students, parents and other music education supporters. The stories will be shared with elected officials and in communities nationwide to demonstrate how vital music education is for students and for our society. To date, more than 800 people from across the United States have shared their stories with NAfME, and the Association seeks stories from every state. NAfME President Nancy E. Ditmer shares her own story, discussing how she was inspired to become a music educator. “One of the most difficult times in my life came early when at age 9 my father died of natural causes.  It was in January of my fourth grade year, just prior to when we started learning to play the flutophone (for those young people who don’t know this instrument, it is a white plastic instrument that remotely resembles a recorder, but with a much less pleasant sound). “The band director in Tipp City, Ohio, at that time was Stewart King, a young, talented, and energetic teacher who truly cared about his students.  It was his positive influence on me, initially as a young scholar of the flutophone, and for the following eight years as a flutist and eventual clarinetist, that shaped me as a musician and encouraged confidence in a young girl at a very vulnerable time in her life. “Being raised by a single mother in a family full of teachers made the decision to become an educator fairly easy, but was it not for the influential and compassionate music teacher I found in Mr. King; I probably would not have pursued music education as a career.  My father had been a musician, playing the flute during his high school years and later singing in barbershop quartets and as a soloist for numerous churches and synagogues. “While my mother was extraordinarily supportive of my musical ventures, she was also busy working as a full time teacher herself and raising three daughters, so it was the nurturing teaching and fatherly presence of Mr. King in my life that truly shaped my education and my life. “Stewart King remains a close friend of mine to this day and I will never be able to thank him adequately for what he did not only in teaching me to be a strong musician and modeling great teaching, but especially for helping me in many ways to deal with the absence of my beloved father, who I know would be very proud of the musician, teacher and leader I have become.” Ditmer believes others have equally compelling stories to tell in support of music education. “Everyone who is involved in music education has a story to tell, perhaps about a musical experience, an influential teacher, an inspiring performance, or a multitude of other possibilities.  Please take a few minutes to help NAfME in our advocacy efforts by writing one or more of your inspiring stories for inclusion when we take these to Capitol Hill in June.” “I had the opportunity to talk with about 400 All-State students during one of my recent conference visits and I asked them to write their stories.  These high school musicians told such profound stories about how music and music education had changed their lives that I sat sobbing in my hotel room the next morning as I read through them.  Please join the many students, teachers, community members, and parents who have already told their stories so that we can maximize the impact on our members of Congress,” Ditmer says. Visit the Share Your Story site or email your story. Photo by Jeannemarie Photography  Roz Fehr, NAfME managing editor for news, March 19, 2013. © National Association for Music Education (