Teacher Education and Music Research Create a Buzz in Atlanta
By Ella Wilcox, Editorial Communications Manager
Despite a series of snowstorms that shut down airports and delayed travelers, more than 600 teacher-educators, researchers, and college students descended on Atlanta, Georgia, March 22–24, 2018. They were there for NAfME’s biennial Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, held in Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. Glenn E. Nierman, Chair of the Planning Committee for the conference, reflected that “The need for people to seek ways to work together and learn from one another has never been more critical, and I can think of no better way to meet this need than to bring people together at a conference to dialogue with each other about the most pressing issues in our profession.”
In the words of NAfME President Denese Odegaard, “The 2018 Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference afforded music researchers, music teachers, program leaders, music administrators, curriculum specialists, and music teacher-educators the opportunity to learn from one another, and to dialogue about shaping the future of music education. Relevant topics gaining momentum in the music education arena were presented and discussed so that all involved in music education understand our students, what they have to offer, and challenges they have in studying music or becoming a music educator. There was a focus on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access that raised awareness of a variety of topics so that we can reflect upon how we think and approach teaching and reaching a variety of students in a variety of ways.”
Two keynote presenters, Judith Jellison and Patricia Shehan Campbell, challenged attendees at the conference’s opening plenary session on “Diversity and Inclusion in American Music Education: Inroads, Blockades, Redesigns, and Deliveries.” Both Jellison’s and Campbell’s speeches are available in their entirety on Amplify, NAfME’s online member community.
At the plenary session, members of the Dickerson Middle School Percussion Ensemble of Marietta, Georgia, delighted attendees with a presentation of percussion pieces that they have performed throughout the United States, including concert percussion literature, Japanese Taiko, “stomp” ensemble music, and Brazilian samba.
Connie McKoy, professor and chair of undergraduate studies in music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, stated, “For me, one of the most significant aspects of the conference was the series of panel sessions focusing on issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access, facilitated by Patricia Shehan Campbell and Judith Jellison. Each session I attended was thought-provoking, informative, and challenged me to think critically about whether we are doing all we can to affirm the musical lives of all students.”
Patrick K. Freer, a professor of music at Georgia State University, an institution located just a few minutes from the conference site, stated: “Some of the most stimulating events of the conference are the poster sessions. Where else can you interact with nearly 300 scholars who represent all stages of the research trajectory, from undergraduate students to senior professors?” A few of the categories of investigation covered in the conference’s three Research Poster Sessions included assessment, creativity, history, gender issues, social justice, teacher education, professional development for beginning and experienced teachers, and popular music education.
Symposia and colloquia featured topics ranging from political action in music education to doing research in a digital age to the latest findings on bullying. Special Research Interest Group (SRIG) sessions examined music teacher education, the ethics of assessment, creativity, history, philosophy, and ways to support beginning music teachers. Area for Strategic Planning and Action (ASPA) sessions tackled problems in teacher evaluation, curriculum, school-university partnerships, and other critical areas.
Of special interest was the session on the 2018 Senior Researcher Award, presented this year to Harry E. Price of Georgia’s Kennesaw State University. Price spoke of the importance of being open-minded, the joys of research, and how critical it was to consider alternatives to what we have believed for many years and to test ideas we may have taken for granted. He thanked many members of the research community, including both those who mentored him (e.g., Clifford Madsen and Cornelia Yarborough) and those in the room who were teaching research in today’s classrooms. His speech will be published in the October 2018 issue of the Journal of Research in Music Education.
Jim Byo, chair of the Society for Research in Music Education, summed up the event, saying: “The conference was an ideal setting for music researchers, most of them rooted in teacher education, to immerse themselves in presentations of thought-provoking, original research. The theme of Diversity and Inclusion, skillfully framed by keynote speakers Pat Shehan Campbell and Judith Jellison, was the first overarching conference theme in recent memory. Two-and-a-half days and 160 sessions, including three poster sessions, provided many opportunities for attendees to be inspired by people and ideas and to make post-conference plans to turn inspiration into action that advances music education at its core.”
Conferencegoers who were able to squeeze in an extra day in Atlanta were also able to choose from local attractions such as the nearby Centennial Olympic Park, the Center for Civil and Human Rights (including an impressive big-screen video of the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech), the world-class Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca-Cola exhibit, as well as several sports museums.
Mark your calendar now to attend the next biennial Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference, November 5–7, 2020. It will take place in conjunction with that year’s NAfME National Conference in Kissimmee, Florida (near Orlando). As President Odegaard said, “We are looking forward to the 2020 conference where the research community and practicing educators can collaborate on relevant research.” It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Learn more about NAfME’s work in music education research.