Southwestern Division President-Elect 2023-2025 Christopher M. Baumgartner


Christopher M. Baumgartner

Southwestern Division President-Elect 2023-2025


Dr. Christopher Baumgartner is Associate Professor of Music Education and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies & Advising at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches courses in music education, supervises student teachers and graduate research, and directs the New Horizons Band. Prior to OU, Dr. Baumgartner taught music education and bands at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Missouri. He taught instrumental music in the Kenton (Ohio) Public Schools for four years, directing the high school, middle school, and beginning band programs. He continues to serve as a clinician and adjudicator for school bands of all levels. 

Keeping an active agenda in music education research, Dr. Baumgartner routinely presents at state, national, and international conferences. His research interests include music student teaching, instrumental music methods, rehearsal techniques, community music, and music teacher mentoring. Dr. Baumgartner is published in numerous state, national, and international journals. His book chapter on music student teaching appears in the Oxford Handbook of Preservice Music Teacher Education in the United States. 

After eight years as facilitator for SMTE’s Supporting Beginning Music Teachers ASPA, Dr. Baumgartner began his term as ASPA Coordinator in summer 2022, overseeing all 11 workgroups. In Oklahoma, he designed a statewide music mentoring program and annual Beginning Teacher Workshop for the Oklahoma Music Educators Association. Dr. Baumgartner recently completed a two-year term on the NAfME Professional Development Committee, is a member of the NAfME 2022 Conference Planning Committee, and serves on the Journal of Music Teacher Education Editorial Review Committee. 


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?

I believe one of the greatest challenges music education faces across our country is relevance. We must collectively engage students (particularly at middle and secondary levels) to continue participation in school and community music programs, both during and beyond the years of formal education. With roughly 15–20% of the school population engaged in music electives, we are not adequately fostering lifelong musicians who will participate in, support, and encourage their own children to take part in varied music opportunities. The band/choir/orchestra model is the hallmark of American music education. However, we must challenge ourselves to think beyond this model. American society continues to become more diverse. Children engage in music in many ways outside of school—on their phones, in the home, attending popular music concerts, and exposure on social media. Our profession must find ways to offer relevant music experiences that reflect students’ regular use and interaction with music. Modern band, songwriting, Mariachi ensemble, music technology, and sound design classes are a few examples of ways in which the other 80% of children might find interest in making music. Classes that do not require extra costs, time, and other resources reflect a more equitable option for engagement in music electives. We must begin by educating future music teachers on the pedagogy for instructing such classes. Only when they feel comfortable doing and teaching music in more diverse ways will educators be empowered to offer new and emergent opportunities that reflect students’ personal interests in music. By reaching diverse individuals at their interests, we can connect and help them experience music and its benefits (musical and otherwise) in ways that will foster a lifelong appreciation for and drive to participate in music making. 


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?

As a teacher educator, I am passionate about the professional development of music teachers at all levels—from the recruitment of the next generation, to the preparation of college students, to the continued reinvigoration of practicing educators. I believe one of the biggest challenges for our association is assisting members in their ability to reach and support 21st century students. Every year, we hear from school administrators about the new and multifaceted “hats” that teachers must wear. From trauma-informed teaching to mental health awareness, today’s educators are navigating a range of issues that were not always at the forefront of our responsibilities. NAfME is in a unique position to offer support for practicing teachers on how to meet our students’ needs in impactful, equitable, and accessible ways. Attending a conference 1,000-plus miles away is not feasible for all educators—and perhaps not the ones who need support the most. I would challenge NAfME to design and implement wide-ranging possibilities for professional development opportunities for our members, focusing on the most salient and timely issues facing our students and classrooms. Let’s think beyond conference sessions, and develop effective methods of disseminating “promising practices,” research-informed pedagogy, and cross-curricular programs that blend music instruction with other areas of child development and support. Webinars, nationwide professional networks, and association-managed programs are just a few approaches toward “reinventing” professional development to benefit our students.  


How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility) in NAfME during your term of office?

I applaud the current leadership for moving the needle at the national level to ensure representation on various councils, committees, and staff positions. The formation of a new Equity Committee itself demonstrates our commitment to ensuring all major policy decisions reflect the diverse nature of our students and educators. I believe the next step is guiding our state music education associations (MEAs) to reflect similar DEIA approaches in their own operations. As our “boots on the ground,” state MEAs hold a unique position in ensuring that state/local music education programs are equitable and inclusive. Each state varies greatly from one to another, including policy decisions, demographics, and cultural backgrounds prevalent in its region. I would challenge the national association to guide state MEAs toward creating their own policies, protocols, and events that are accessible and inclusive for their local constituents. 

In another vein, I believe the power of our association comes from the collaboration among P–12 educators and higher education researcher-practitioners. There is much to be gleaned from marrying research to practice. I myself find that I am most effective in preparing preservice teachers when I maintain my own connection to the school music classroom. Likewise, my public school colleagues enjoy picking up new approaches from student teachers and professors. In terms of diversity, I believe it is imperative that both “worlds” of music education work together to best meet our students’ wide and varied needs. 

Equity Statement

Leadership Statement

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