Philosophy in Action: Committing to Supporting Music-Making Opportunities
By NAfME Members Ann M. Deisler
and Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos
For a long time we music educators have supported the idea of music for all. But how do we put that philosophy into action? Our session at the NAFME 2016 National Conference in Grapevine, Texas, explored partnerships between universities and K-12 music programs as well as successful community ensembles that have fostered lifelong instrumental and/or vocal music-making.
An overview of current partnerships across the nation was examined, as well as the presenters’ own experience of collaboration within this setting. We discussed partnership benefits for the university and the K-12 music programs, such as recruitment, exposure, support, articulation and a means to further lifelong music-making in the community.
Working together, within the school and within our larger communities we have been able to build relationships, inspire advocacy, and provide opportunities for lifelong music-making.
As former middle school music teachers, we are very familiar with the challenges of engaging all students in learning. The desire to reach all students musically is often not fully realized, though we continue to look toward the future with a positive outlook of music for all. Early on in our middle school tenures we learned the value of partnership and collaboration. Working together, within the school and within our larger communities we have been able to build relationships, inspire advocacy, and provide opportunities for lifelong music-making.
Q & A with Ann and Angel
Angel: What was your first experience with involving the community in your music program when you taught middle school?
Ann: I developed an after school faculty-staff guitar ensemble. The students in my top guitar class sat side-by-side with faculty and staff members (whom they saw in class or in the halls everyday) and taught them how to play guitar.
Angel: That was a great way to get the school community involved in life-long music making, and to develop support for the program as well.
Ann: You are now at California State University-Bakersfield (CSUB). How can community members and high school students get involved in your on-campus university choir?
Angel: Community members are welcomed to sing with the University Singers* at CSUB. This ensemble meets on Monday nights and attracts current students, alumni, local choral directors, and other adults who have always loved to sing in a choral ensemble. In addition, high school students have joined us because of the literature and the opportunity to sing with more mature voices. Some high schools give credits to students for community service, and I signed their forms to receive credit for the hours they spend in rehearsal. They love to sing while also getting their hours completed by doing something they truly enjoy.
The key factor is letting people know that the opportunity is available to them, and removing stress factors such as auditions and overwhelming rehearsal schedules.
The key factor is letting people know that the opportunity is available to them, and removing stress factors such as auditions and overwhelming rehearsal schedules. I ask people to come hang out and observe first to see if it is something that they might want to commit to. This alone has brought a lot of people in because it removes the intimidating factor of auditioning and competition. I also utilized the university website, Facebook, emails, posters, and just simply word of mouth to get people excited and involved in singing with us.
Ann: What are some of the benefits to your choir from having community members and high school students participate?
- It raises the profile of our program in the community.
- Having a multigenerational ensemble benefits all participants involved particularly in terms of social interaction and musical leadership.
Ann: What is your long-term goal for participation of community members and high school students in your choir?
Angel: To encourage life-long music-making and provide a place where everybody can participate!
*Half of the members of California State University-Bakersfield University Singers are high schools students or community members.
About the authors:
NAfME member Ann M. Deisler is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator for Music Education Studies at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia. She teaches courses in music education, education, supervises clinical residents and coordinates the music education curriculum. Before her appointment to Reinhardt University, she was Assistant Professor of Music at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. Dr. Deisler completed doctoral studies at Florida State University and previously taught middle school band, orchestra, and guitar for eight years in Florida. Her research interests include teacher preparation, best practices, and sociology of music education.
NAfME member Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, is Assistant Professor and Director of Choral & Vocal Studies at California State University, Bakersfield. He teaches courses in music education, and conducts the University Singers and Chamber Singers. Before appointment to CSUB, he served as Director of Choral Music Education at Chapman University from 2010 to 2015. Before completing doctoral studies at Florida State University, he taught secondary choral music for seven years in the Florida. Research interests include: teacher preparation, rehearsal techniques, adolescent choirs, and assessment. He is currently serving on the California ACDA Board as the College & University Repertoire & Standards chair.
Ann M. Deisler and Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos presented on their topic “Philosophy in Action: Committing to Supporting Music-Making Opportunities” at the 2016 NAfME National Conference in Grapevine, TX.
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