A Recruiter of Excellence: Member Spotlight

A Recruiter of Excellence

Member Spotlight: Vanessa Bliley

By Lisa Ferber

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 Teaching Music.

Vanessa Bliley started playing oboe in her freshman year of high school when her band director made a request of this then-clarinetist. Bliley recalls, “My teacher said, ‘We don’t have a lot of oboists. Would you like to play oboe?’ And then I started taking lessons, got more involved in band, and all the magic happened.”

A student at Central Washington University looks back at her Collegiate successes and forward to student-teaching.

Bliley is in her fifth year at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, and she wants to re-create her incredible public school music experience for other students. “I truly believe that music is essential for a well-rounded education. It’s magical, and I think every student should have the opportunity to try it.” She is a recipient of a Shannon Kelly Kane scholarship, is the Washington State Collegiate President for the Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA), and is an advocate for music education on the local and national levels. She won a Professional Achievement Award, and CWU won a NAfME Collegiate Chapter of Excellence Award for Recruitment. She notes that there are more than 150 NAfME members in her CWU chapter, out of about 400 music members in the school.

Collegiate Recruiter
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Wilcox Photography | Documentary Associates, LLC

One effort she cites as having led to CWU winning the Chapter of Excellence award was their beginning-of-the-year social event. After marching band rehearsal, the officers set up a rotunda with laptops, handed out informational brochures, and provided free pizza. Students could join or renew their membership and ask questions about the organization.

Bliley notes that one event that led to her Professional Achievement Award was a Hill Day project in January 2017. Bliley assembled 23 music students from five Washington state universities to advocate for music education. They met with 33 Washington state representatives, and each Collegiate participant explained how music changed their lives and why they chose to go into music education. NAfME holds a yearly Hill Day in Washington, D.C., where they advocate for music at the national level; Collegiate members have been invited to participate since 2014. After attending the 2016 Collegiate Advocacy Summit, Bliley wanted to do this at the state level. She took what she learned from the D.C. Collegiate Advocacy Summit and created the first annual WMEA State Hill Day. “I would like to see more involvement across the state and have it grow bigger every year.”

“I truly believe that music is essential for a well-rounded education. It’s magical, and I think every student should have the opportunity to try it.”

She gives a giant shoutout to Mark Lane, music education professor at CWU, and looks forward to student teaching in the Seattle area in 2018 with music educator Mariko Lane. “She just exudes happiness, love, and what music is really all about. She is everything I want to be as a music teacher, and I have never been more excited for anything in my life,” notes Bliley.

Recruiter of Excellence
Vanessa Bliley, Music Education Major, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington. Photo courtesy of Ann’s Creative Photography

“The lessons I have learned through music can be applied to all other areas in my life. It has taught me the importance of work ethic, communication skills, leadership, and overall how to be happy. It’s pretty powerful.”

NAfME 2017 Awards to Collegiate Chapters and Members

  • Music Program: University of Montevallo, Montevallo, Alabama
  • Service: Radford University, Radford, Virginia
  • Advocacy: University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Missouri
  • Recruitment: Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington
  • Professional Development: New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey

2016–2017 NAfME Collegiate Professional Achievement Award recipients

  • Vanessa Bliley: Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington
  • Lauren B. Lewis: Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
  • William Yates: University of Montevallo, Montevallo, Alabama
  • Emily Brumbaugh: Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
  • Joshua Schmidt: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Shannon Kelly Kane Scholarship Recipients

  • Vanessa Bliley: Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington
  • Lauren B. Lewis: Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

NAfME Collegiate

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Elizabeth Baker, Social Media Coordinator and Copywriter. October 21, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)