Music education students and professors brought the MSUM National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) chapter back to life this semester after a six-year hiatus.
Rachel Burckhard, instrumental music education senior and MSUM NAfME president, along with Raychl Smith, music education professor and MSUM NAfME adviser, spearheaded the initiative and have been working hard to build an active member base to participate in guest speakers, community outreach projects and fundraising for the club.
“Last year Dr. Rolsten got our chapter set up and approached me about me about being president,” Burckhard said. “Now this year Dr. Smith is heading it up.”
NAfME is an organization of music educators advocating to preserve and advance music education in the United States school system. It is an organization all music educators are required to join once teaching in the field, especially if they plan to bring students to contests and special events.
The MSUM chapter has spent the first few meetings trying to pinpoint a meeting time as well as informing students about the organization and the benefits it offers members. At the last meeting, the MSUM NAfME chapter brought in the North Dakota president-elect, Darcy Brandenburg, who is only five years into the profession, to talk to students about being an educator and the transition from college into the classroom.
“I really would like us to be more engaged out in the public schools and providing services to teachers in those schools and then learning from being in the classroom as well,” Smith said.
Smith noted the chapter is in the process of planning a service project where they visit local schools and assist teachers with bulletin boards, classroom organization or student activities.
“… Anything we can do where our students are partnering with the public schools,” she said.
The organization’s National Conference was held in Nashville this past week, and Smith, along with music education seniors Brandon Van Den Eykel and Kimberly Jacobson attended.
Every year, there are two conferences held nationwide, one for practicing teachers and the other more research-based for higher education professors. The conference in Nashville was targeted at practicing teachers and featured various sessions on composition, improving in the classroom and using different styles of music to teach fundamentals, as well as featured concerts from different schools around the country.
“Seeing Brandon and Kim interact with music educators from across the country was really great,” Smith said.
Both Van Den Eykel and Jacobson said they were exposed to, and connected with, tremendous resources and fellow educators.
“It was a great opportunity for us to learn some tricks of the trade, learn from some of the best and network with other music educators from across the nation,” Jacobson said.
Van Den Eykel said he got a lot out of the skill sessions offered.
“My favorite session was all about using drumming to teach better musicianship to children and high school choirs,” he said.
NAfME also has local and state chapters that hold events, and in February, members of the MSUM chapter will attend the Minnesota NAfME State Conference.
“There are clinics, concerts and an exhibition hall where we can walk through,” Burckhard said.
Of the 35 music education majors at MSUM, 16 of them are actively involved in the revamped chapter.
“(NAfMA) will definitely benefit me in the field,” Burckhard said. “Already being a member shows that you’re a professional, taking some initiative and know what you’re getting in to.”
MSUM NAfME is also planning to have students that are currently student teaching talk to the chapter and offer tips and insights on actually working with students. Throughout all the activities planned and carried out, a common goal of the club remains — bring music educators together and help prepare students to lead a classroom.
“When I was an undergraduate, NAfME is the reason I really got involved in music education,” Smith said. “When I met Rachel, she reminded me a lot of myself, and so when she was so excited about getting the NAfME Chapter started, I really wanted to help her get it done.”
The MSUM NAfME chapter meets at 8 p.m. every other Wednesday in CA 144. For more information about the club, contact Burckhard at firstname.lastname@example.org or Smith at email@example.com.
BY MEREDITH WATHNE