Susan L. Smith
Southern Division President-Elect 2022-2024
Susan L. Smith has been an educator for more than 25 years at the elementary through collegiate levels, including general music, choral, band, orchestra, guitar, and educational pedagogy in Florida, Virginia, and Alabama. She has served as an author, clinician, conductor, and adjudicator across the United States and is currently a Lecturer of Music Education and Horn at Troy University. Smith is the current Chair of the NAfME Collegiate Advisory Council, a Past President of the Alabama Music Educators Association, and a former Alabama Bandmasters Association District VI Chairman.
Before her appointment at Troy University, Smith served as Director of Bands at the Saint James School in Montgomery, Alabama, where responsibilities included teaching Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Bands, and Guitar, Jazz Band, and Music Technology courses. The Saint James Band consistently received superior ratings in Jazz Band, Solo & Ensemble, Marching Band, and Concert Band festivals. Saint James was a BOA multi-Regional and Super Regional Class Champion and Grand Nationals Semifinalist. Students were selected for district and all-state bands as well as the BOA Rose Parade Honor Band, the Army All-American Marching Band, and the Music for All National Honor Band of America. Smith holds a BME from James Madison University, a Master’s in Education from Troy State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Music Education from Auburn University.
As a Coordinating Author for Warner Bros. Publications’ Expressions Music Curriculum – a vision for a PreK–12 vertical, conceptual approach to teaching music – Smith co-authored Band Expressions (a secondary component of the curriculum) and was an editor for the Elementary, Orchestra, Choral, Guitar and Jazz texts. Smith has presented clinics at many state conventions, the National and Division NAfME conferences and the Midwest Clinic. She serves as an educational consultant for Music for All, is responsible for the Chamber Music Festival portion of the Music for All National Festival, and is an executive producer for the Mind the Gap Webinar and Podcast series for pre-service and young teachers.
Smith’s professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, Alabama Music Educators Association, Alabama Bandmasters Association, Phi Beta Mu, Sigma Alpha Iota, Phi Beta Kappa, National Band Association, and she is an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma. She has conducted honor bands in Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky. She currently resides in Troy, Alabama, with her husband Robert and has two daughters, Savannah and Madison. Savannah is a Band Director in her 5th year in Fayette County, Georgia, and Madison is a 3rd year General Music Teacher in Lowndes County, Georgia.
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
Recruitment and retention of students and qualified music teachers are at the forefront of the challenges for music education today. We need to find ways to make it more attractive and achievable to become a music teacher. I will call on the state associations to connect their Tri-M® organizations to local NAfME Collegiate chapters to make the path to a music education degree more tangible and relatable. My vision is to make music education available to all students and bridge traditional and emerging gaps in our music education system. I will encourage music educators to create shared educational experiences and formalize new points of entry into school music programs. One way to accomplish this is to tap into student’s interest for the music they consume outside of school by promoting contemporary ensembles and studies in music industry in secondary music education. Embracing music of all genres and cultures will create a robust musical experience that will help us to connect with our students.
What do you see as the major challenges the association will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
I believe NAfME must continue developing, showcasing, and communicating the organization’s value to its members. Our inherent and historical divisions between levels, disciplines, and cultures weaken our ties and hinder our potential. Facilitating communication has long been my passion and finding the means to connect and encourage teachers and students is a constant goal. To foster these connections in NAfME, I will work to broaden the lines of communication between the state associations, Councils, NEB, and the NAfME office, striving to give members greater access and insight to the mission and vital work of the association each day on their behalf.
How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA in NAfME during your term of office?
As I started my term as President of the Alabama Music Educators Association, I called upon a trusted colleague to become more involved in the organization and take on a presidential cabinet role. He declined at first, saying he did not feel there was a place for him in the organization because he was a person of color. This should never happen in our Southern Division; our membership needs to be welcomed to participate in our organization at all levels. I plan to advance DEIA in NAfME by encouraging all to identify educators from underrepresented groups, invite them to become more involved in the governance of the organization, and to make the Southern Division welcoming and relatable for all. I will continue to work with the Equity Committee, the Collegiate Advisory Council, and university stakeholders to identify, engage, and purposefully recruit students and professors from HBCUs/HSIs/TCUs and create interesting and relevant professional development experiences. I will also encourage NAfME to partner with professional music minority organizations to ensure all voices are heard on how best to advocate for all teachers and students.