Oftentimes the start of the school year is associated with “new”. New classes, new books, new clothes, new faces – why not tack on “new student organization” to the list? The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is for all who support music as a necessary facet of education, whether they already are teaching or are still in college. The recent passing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act) means music is now being recognized as essential to a well rounded education; yet the fight for funding of music programs has continued on. Now more than ever, we are called on as a community of educators and musicians to unite in advocacy for our field and the students of the American public school system. This sort of unity can start with the members of your school’s music department and NAfME. Listed below are the reasons for starting your own collegiate chapter of NAfME, and the importance of student leadership.
Educators, whether they teach high school algebra or marching band, have a secondary title of “advocate” that comes with the job. Members of that profession are constantly serving as advocates – for their jobs, their programs, and most importantly, their students. I have heard it said that advocacy starts local, but it actually starts with you.
According to NAfME’s official website, the mission of the organization “is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all”. Collegiate chapters share the same mission, but have the ability to organize in a more localized manner that allows for the growth of individual communities. Collegiate members also are given the ability to attend and be a part of advocacy summits – such as the Collegiate Advocacy Summit and Hill Day in Washington, D.C., this past June – and countless advocacy resources that help students learn how to get active in their advocacy!
Members of NAfME have access to newsletters, seminars, and conferences that facilitate our professional growth. Taking advantage of all of these means of professional development allow students and educators to constantly grow in their field of study as they learn inside and outside of the classroom. Showing that you have attended and participated in workshops provided at NAfME sponsored events is also a valuable asset to any current or future educator’s resume!
My chapter’s faculty advisor, Kayla Paulk, had noticed the division between instrumentalists and vocalists within our university’s music department. There were no existing professional student organizations that integrated the two emphases. One of our chapter’s goals is to encourage the development of professional relationships amongst our instrumental and choral education majors as well as exposing students to the aspects of music education outside of their focus area. The exposure to instrumental and choral education as well as the development of professional contacts benefits educators as they continue on in their careers; giving them an edge in their job searches and a community of other educators to make a call to whenever in need of assistance with an ensemble.
We are told repeatedly as incoming college freshman by our advisors, professors, and older peers to get involved with organizations either related to our interests or fields of study as soon as we start school. A collegiate chapter of NAfME is an excellent means of getting involved, and even gaining leadership experience while you are at it.
Being a member of a student organization while you are in college is so much more than a resume builder – it develops and refines skills in classroom management, public speaking, and other forms of communication. Since starting a collegiate chapter of CNAfME, I have witnessed myself grow exponentially in all areas of leadership. It can be read in my construction of emails, heard when I talk to my colleagues and supervisors, and seen when I conduct in front of an ensemble. What I have gained is invaluable to me as I continue on with my college career and eventually go forward into my professional career.
In conclusion, the meaningful experiences we receive in college are granted by our own willingness to invest our time and energy into them. How you nurture your growth and development as a music educator is up to you, but NAfME is without a doubt a prime way of doing it.
Creating your own chapter may seem daunting – there is a lot that goes into it! – but the best way to start is to understand what NAfME itself is all about. From there you can peruse the Collegiate Membership section of NAfME’s website to learn about starting your own chapter, gain access to materials and resources necessary for your chapter, and see what opportunities exist for getting involved. Next, talk to your university’s campus life offices to figure out what their requirements are for student organizations. Chances are you will need to recruit members, establish officers, and create a constitution that will outline the internal affairs of your chapter. The process can seem tedious and confusing, so do not be afraid to reach out to other NAfME collegiate chapters in your state for support!
Read more about Kelsey’s experiences with her collegiate NAfME chapter.
NAfME Collegiate member Kelsey Wickerham is proudly from San Antonio, Texas. She is entering her third year as a Music Education (Choral) major and Political Science minor at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico. Since starting college, Kelsey has been a member of numerous choral ensem bles, including both the Chamber and Swanee Singers, two selective groups. During her freshman year she joined her university’s chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and was a collegiate contributor to the organization’s March 2015 issue of its magazine. In the summer of 2015, Kelsey traveled to New York City to make her Carnegie Hall debut with the university choral ensemble and alumni. In the 2015-2016 school year she was the secretary of her university’s chapter of ACDA; then in March of 2016 she, along with faculty advisor, Kayla Paulk, reinstated the university’s chapter of NAfME. Kelsey is currently the sitting president for the chapter. Outside of the music building Kelsey can be found singing with her church choir, serving her community, and cheering along the Greyhound Athletics Department. Her career goals include being a high school choral director, attaining her masters and doctoral degrees in education and public policy, and one day working in educational policy. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or found on LinkedIn.