Monday, October 13, 2008

Throwing My Hat Into the Ring

iGoogle strikes again! The e-mail alert feature allows me to get breaking news on music education. Through iGoogle I learned about the call for nominations by the MENC for the Music Educators Journal Advisory Board. I am officially announcing my candidacy and look forward to throwing my hat into the ring.

They say they are looking for a 'new' group of members from 'populations that have been historically underrepresented'. Well, I have been teaching for (gulp) about 30 years, I have taught in a public school, at the Hartt Community Division, in a private studio and have been in the administrations at each. That I am currently in a for-profit music education firm might disqualify me - but what group has been more largely 'unrepresented' than us?

Several years ago my colleague Gary Feltner and I attended the MENC National Conference in Phoenix, AZ. Those of you who have heard my interview with Larry Marra might remember the story I told of us trying to register for the conference on the first day. It went something like this:

'Welcome to Phoenix MENC! What state and district are you from?'
'Great what school?'
The Dallas School of Music.
'I don't see that on my list, is that in DISD?'
No, we are a private school.
'Oh, you must mean it's part of TAPPS, like a private or parochial school'
No, we are a private music school.
'Oh...well are you part of a college or university?'
No we are not affiliated with any academic institutions. It's a for-profit music school, we are not part of any district or university.
'I see, it's a private studio like in a music store? So you're a retailer?'
No we don't sell instruments, we just teach. I guess you could say we sell music education?
'Hmm, I don't have that as a category,...let me just draw a little box down here and put 'Other'... Welcome to MENC!'

...and so it went for the entire week.

I would welcome a chance to represent the for-profit, private music school option at MENC, but somehow I imagine my views might fall on deaf ears. After all, even when I tell my own extended family members that I am a 'music educator', they can't understand why I don't work at a high school or know how 'our teams' are doing.

On the MENC 'About' page it states that their '
activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, ...' Amen I say! But if MENC was really true to their mission statement ...'to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all', would they not devote as much time, energy and resources to reaching all segments of the population who want to study music? Why is MENC so entrenched in academia which abandons almost all musicians at age 17 or 18?

Well, I guess I'll save any rants for the first journal meeting in 2009. I will keep you posted on these pages as to my progress. If anyone out there has any advice, feel free to let me know!