Northwest Division President-Elect Tom Muller


Tom Muller

2019-2021 Northwest Division President-Elect 



Candidate Biography and Statement


Tom Muller is currently in his twenty-fourth year of teaching, and is the Associate Director of Bands at David Douglas High School. Beginning in 2014, Mr. Muller was named the Music Supervisor for the David Douglas School District. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1994. Mr. Muller has served as the President of the Oregon Band Directors Association, and has been a member of the Oregon Music Education Association Board of Control at various times since 1998. Mr. Muller is a Past President of the Oregon Music Education Association whose term ended in July of 2018. He is also the current Chair of the OSAA State Solo Championship. He is a past Middle School Honor Band Chair, as well as a Past Second Vice-President for OMEA. Mr. Muller was the 2005 and 2012 Conference Chair, where he planned the statewide Conventions for the Oregon Music Education Association. Mr. Muller served as the Jazz Chair for the 2011 All-Northwest Jazz ensemble and helped to organize the NAfME Northwest Division Conference. His positions in OMEA has allowed him to lobby Oregon Senators and Representatives in Washington, D.C., for more support of music education. He also served on the NAfME Northwest Board of Control during his Presidential terms at OMEA. In 2015, he was inducted into Phi Beta Mu, an international association for band directors. In 1996, Mr. Muller was the recipient of the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award for Excellence in First-Year Teaching, and has been honored by Alpha Delta Kappa for his service to education. Mr. Muller is also the recipient of the 2012-2013 Portland Youth Philharmonic Marie V. Dodge Award as an Outstanding School Music Teacher. Most recently, Mr. Muller accepted a position on the Young Musicians and Artists Board of Control, where he helps coordinate the direction of the organization, assists in fundraising campaigns, and develops strategies to improve the opportunities for students at the annual summer camps.


What do you see as the major challenges facing music education during your term as president?

The major challenges in music education are the continued need for increased school funding, and the need to broaden the educational opportunities for students who do not fall into the traditional ensemble setting of public education. While other challenges will arise during any Northwest Division President’s term, these are ongoing.


What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?

NAfME faces the same challenges as music education, because the Association is the voice of all music teachers nationwide. Additionally, NAfME needs to focus on increasing the national membership base and the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and support effective advocacy in every state.


How should our Association respond to these challenges? 

To respond to these challenges, NAfME needs to begin by looking at them through a different lens. Instead of challenges, they are opportunities to create an impact that will affect every student and teacher throughout the country. NAfME has developed a strong presence on Capitol Hill and an ability to effectively lobby for change. Their continued efforts help to create inroads for state advocacy by helping states to information from the national level to their state leaders. NAfME’s presence and lobbying efforts helped with the passage of ESSA, and its reauthorization.

By providing the many links and resources on the NAfME website, teachers have many ways to work with state and district leaders in regards to their implementation. However, there is a need for a directed and targeted approached to communicate with state leadership regarding how ESSA affects the music programs in each state. This could perhaps lead to increased funding for school music programs.

Increasing the national membership has been an ongoing issue. Being able to work with states on recruitment strategies has worked, but it needs to be reenergized. States may feel they have to go it alone. Looking at new ways to market the offerings NAfME brings to the table, and how to communicate with future members, would help to address this.

Expanding ensemble offerings is starting to happen across the country with the development of mariachi bands, African drumming courses, and more. Composition and studio recording classes are two examples of classes that are not available in many parts of the country. They would be able to reach students who may not play an instrument, or sing in a choir, but are very passionate about music. These students will now have the opportunity to receive a music education that would prepare them for pursuing a career in music.