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GeorgIa music news Pass the Torch

GMEA President, Dr. John Odom

NAMM Foundation Recognizes Georgia Schools

Music in a Time of Need Theresa Ja-Young Kim

The Tale of Two

Seventh Graders Brooke Haycock






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District Chairs 1 - Kenza Murray 2 - Andrew C. Bell 3 - Jonathan Carmack 4 - D. Alan Fowler 5 - Stephen Lawrence 6 - Samuel Miller 7 - Blair Callaway 8 - Alan Carter 9 - Pat Gallagher 10 - Gene Hundley 11 - Todd Howell 12 - Paula Krupiczewicz 13 - Erik Mason 14 - Dion Muldrow

President-Elect Evelyn Champion Vice-President for All State Events Tracy Wright


Vice-President for Performance Evaluation Events Richard Prouty

The Tale of Two

Seventh Graders Brooke Haycock


Past Presidents’ Representative Dr. Bernadette Scruggs

Editor, Georgia Music News Victoria Enloe

Executive Director Cecil Wilder

For the complete list of Board Members please visit:

Band Division Chair Neil Ruby Choral Division Chair Wes Stoner


GMEA Staff Aleta Womack Brandie Barbee Ryan Barbee

College Division Chair Dr. Laura Stambaugh Elementary Division Chair Vicky Knowles

GMN Advertising/Exhibitors Cindy Reed

Orchestra Division Chair Sarah Black





Piano Division Chair Dr. Joanna Kim










© Copyright 2017 by the Georgia Music Educators Association Printing by Slate Group, Lubbock, TX

All pieces reproduced in this issue are under prior copyright of the creators and publisher by the contractual arrangements. Nothing shown may be reproduced in any form without obtaining the permission of the publisher and any other person or company who may have copyright ownership. Photos provided by Andy Edwards of Ace of Photos Visit

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As the 2106-2017 school year comes to a close, so comes to a close my tenure as GMEA President. It seems only a short time ago that I was writing the words… “As I begin my two year term as GMEA President…” Now, two years later, it is time to pass the torch and watch as GMEA continues to grow and as thousands of young lives are shaped and molded through this wonderful gift of music by so many amazing teachers and musicians throughout the state. Since I wrote those first lines, we have moved our In-Service Conference to Athens and seen great strides being made in offering our membership the best in the conference experience. The Classic Center has proven to be a wonderful venue for the conference enabling us to expand session offerings, have performances in first class venues and have virtually everything under one roof. Let me encourage you to put our 2018 ISC on your calendar now as the planning committee will be active soon and may you continue or begin to take advantage of all the conference has to offer. As I look over the past two years, it has been such a honor and privilege to serve with an executive committee that has been second to none…. Frank Folds, Immediate Past President; Evelyn Champion, President-Elect; Tracy Wright, Vice-President for All State; Richard Prouty, Vice-President for Performance Evaluations; and Bernadette Scruggs, Past President’s Representative. Each of these have been invaluable in making sure their areas of responsibilities were carried out in the best interest of GMEA… which is you! Always remember that you are GMEA and you have elected each of these to serve the membership and stand solid on the foundation of principles that makes GMEA one of the strongest music educator associations in the country.


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With that said, I want to welcome the slate of new officers that were elected to serve and be a part the Executive Committee: our President-Elect, Evelyn Champion; Vice-President for Performance Evaluations, Jon Cotton and Vice-President for All State, Amy Clement. Each of these bring to the table experience and a passion for service that will continue to make GMEA an organization that guides in promoting the best in music education for our students and empowering each of us to lead with education in music and education through music. Another arm of GMEA that rarely gets the recognition that it deserves is our amazing GMEA office staff. Cecil Wilder, Ryan Barbee, Brandie Barbee, and Aleta Womack are the engine that keeps GMEA running with all its moving parts and seemingly endless tasks. Working on the “inside” these past two years has given me a deep appreciation for these dedicated servants who have that passion for ensuring that our students and teachers have all the tools for making music education all that it can and should be in our state. As we look toward 2017-2018 in our individual schools and in our organization, I want to thank you for the amazing opportunity to serve as your president. The most rewarding part has been to get to know so many of you from around the state and to experience, first hand, many of the wonderful things that are happening around the state as music comes to life each and every day through the lives of so many as you teach, guide, and inspire our children with this blessed gift of music. May God bless each of you richly as you look toward the coming school year and may each of you play an active role in our organization as we bring music into the lives of so many.


EDITOR’S CORNER GMN EDITOR Victoria Enloe Georgia Music News Congratulates Emily Spradley, Graham, Islands High School 2016 Teacher of the Year. We apologize for this omission.

resa Ja-Young Kim and “A Tale of Two Seventh-Graders,” by Brook Haycock, valuable and that they may inspire you to return to school in the fall with renewed purpose.

The articles presented in this issue of Georgia Music News discuss the unique power we, as music educators, hold to help students transcend sometimes monumental barriers. I hope you find, “Music in a Time of Need: How Educators Can Help Today’s Refugee Children,” by The-




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DIVISION NEWS BAND DIVISION Dr. Matt Koperniak I hope you are all enjoying safe and happy summers! It is a great responsibility and privilege to serve as your State Band Chair, and I have big shoes to fill. Please join me in thanking Neil Ruby for his exemplary service. Under Neil’s leadership, the Band Division enjoyed our final convention in Savannah, expanded concert and clinic offerings in Athens, began a new cycle of All-State audition etudes, and much more. Throughout his service to GMEA, Neil has remained a model band director, offering superior experiences for his students and school community in all areas, including concert and marching band, District and All-State auditions, and Solo & Ensemble. Thank you, Neil, for your leadership and friendship! Moving forward, the Band Division is embarking on a twoyear review of our LGPE music list. This year, a special committee is currently reviewing all selections at levels one through three. Next year, levels four through six will undergo a similar review process. District band chairs selected committee members, and I am excited and proud that committee membership includes representatives from all fourteen districts. Please note, no changes to the music list will occur for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, other than our normal process for adding new titles. The revised level one through three list will be published next summer, to be in effect starting with the 2018-2019 school year. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like a detailed copy of the timeline and committee rules. Thank you to Jon Cotton, GMEA Vice President for Performance Evaluations, for serving as chair of this committee. As we rest and recharge this summer, let us all remember the need to support our fellow band directors and music teachers. Band directing can be rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting. It can also be messy, exhausting, and frustrating. No matter the circumstances, music teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. The future of our profession rests in our support of each other throughout all phases of our 30+ year teaching careers, and particularly new teachers. In the upcoming school year, let us all welcome and mentor new band directors in our profession. With that in mind, I will close this column by highlighting a new band director, Robert Davidson, who just completed his first year teaching at


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Trickum Middle School in District 13. Like many young band directors, Robert has brought great energy and excitement to his students and band program. He is neither afraid nor proud to ask for help, asking several experienced band directors to help him prepare his students for his first LGPE performances. He is a team player in his school, always friendly and willing to help his connections teacher colleagues on his hallway. As a new GMEA member, he fulfilled all his judging responsibilities and met all of his OPUS deadlines. He also went above and beyond volunteering in several capacities, including hosting a session at our In-Service Conference, and assembling the music stands for our All-State concerts. As we prepare to welcome a new crop of firstyear band directors to our profession and state association this coming fall, let us work together to provide the support, guidance, and positive role models these teachers need to survive and thrive. But first, enjoy the rest of your summer!

COLLEGE DIVISION Dr. Laura Stambaugh First on the agenda for this issue’s news is an announcement: There will be a special election this summer to elect a College Division Chair for 2017-2019. The elections held this past January determined positions for 20192021. Our Division ended up with no elected Chair for 2017-2019 because no nominees were put forth in the corresponding election before my term started. Incoming President Evelyn Champion has approved the special election, and we have two candidates who have graciously agreed to run on short notice. Details about the election will be sent via Opus and my email list in early summer. Second: I’d like to question a statement that I’ve heard has been floating around college faculty for a while. It can be summed up as, “What does GMEA do for me?”. I think that is a misguided question. GMEA is not meant to be our primary professional association. For example, I belong to SRME, several SRIGs, and SMPC (Society for Music Perception and Cognition). I’m sure all the Directors of Choral Activities belong to ACDA, while the Directors of Orchestra belong to ASTA, etc. Those are the conferences and organizations that foster our professional development. Because our expertise is so narrow, we draw on national and international communities to continue our professional growth. The state of Georgia is the purview of GMEA, and we are the professional community that serves it.


The graduations are done, spring concerts performed, instruments cared for and grades completed. One more year checked off the list. I hope your year had many more successes than trials; mine was a healthy mix of both!

I have enjoyed my time as the Elementary Division Chair these past two years. I have had amazing experiences with stellar highs and only a few challenges. I have really enjoyed getting to know the amazing educators we have in our great state and the wonderful staff we have holding the office of the Georgia Music Educators Association in their capable and caring hands. I am ready to pass the torch to an outstanding individual. Emily Threlkeld is a wonderful teacher, musician, and friend. She has already begun the planning process in service to our state. You will definitely want to experience the State In-Service Conference that she will plan as well as the Statewide Elementary Honor Chorus. She will be assisted by the equally amazing Jenny Chambless, whom you elected to the position of Elementary Chair-Elect. I would like to thank all of you for your notes of encouragement and your emailed questions. It has been a wonderful two years and I have been blessed to have the opportunity to serve you. Musically, Vicky Knowles GMEA Elementary Division Chair


Greeting from your new GMEA Elementary Division Chairman. I would like to thank our outgoing chair, Victoria Knowles, for paving the way so beautifully as I step into place. Vicky, you served the Elementary Division so well. Thank you. I hope to do at least half the job that you have in providing wonderful leadership!

That being said, the wheels are already turning for our 2017 2018 school year with GMEA in our Elementary Division. We have two wonderful choral clinicians lined up for our Elementary Division Statewide Chorus event, Mr. Craig Denison of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Mrs. Karen Nicolosi, founder of the Tuscaloosa Boy Choir, now renamed as The Alabama Choir School. Mr. Craig most recently served for thirteen seasons as artistic director of Florida Singing Sons Boychoir. He has also served as music director for the Colorado Children’s Chorale, and associate music director and conductor of the American Boychoir. Mrs. Nicolosi’s choirs have sung solo concerts in Carnegie Hall, the White House, the National Cathedral, and in cathedrals and venues throughout Canada, England, Austria, Germany, and Italy. The State-

wide Chorus event will take place in Athens, February 23-24. More exciting news will be coming about our elementary division presenters and performers for the In-Service Conference that will be taking place January 25-27. Many of our Georgia music educators are attending various conferences and workshops over the summer, and I am excited to see the growth happening in our division. I have already spent some time catching up on workshop notes and materials from our last in-service. I look forward to working with all of our music educators to make the next two years productive and positive. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to serve in any way at our events. I will be reaching out soon for presenters and hosts for our GMEA In-Service Conference. I hope you all have a relaxing and rejuvenating summer.

ORCHESTRA DIVISION Dr. Bernadette Scruggs As I begin my two-year tenure as State Orchestra Chair, I again thank my lucky stars that I have the good fortune to teach orchestra in Georgia. Next year will begin my thirty-fourth year as an educator and I cannot think of a better field to have chosen, especially because my string colleagues are among the best in the nation. When I have a question or a problem, I can collaborate with a plethora of educators to find the best solution. Because our state’s string teachers are supportive rather than competitive, helpful rather than uncooperative, and generous rather than refusing, the resulting environment is both accommodating and positive. By the publication of this magazine, you should be well into your summer hiatus. I hope you are relishing the change in schedule and that you have a lighter agenda. I would like you take advantage of this extra time and that you will take a moment to really consider the fable, “The Hare and the Tortoise”. As someone who has taken the “tortoise” approach to the classroom, I can definitely say that because I work (slowly and) steadily, I am still really love my job and have never burned out. Many of my teacher friends have a difficult time maintaining balance between their jobs and their lives. I think it is important that everyone remember that you do your job to the very best of your ability to support your life outside of school. That does not mean that your students should miss out on opportunities simply because you do not wish to assist at the few Saturday events we have in place- not that anyone in this category would- but that you should never allow your job to completely overshadow your home life. Not only will you be the better for this policy, your students will benefit as well. I want to thank Sarah Black for the outstanding work she did as State Orchestra Chair. I learned a great deal watching her and I only hope I can perform the same level of work that Sarah provided for us over the past two years. Thank you, my teammates, for the trust you displayed by putting me in this role. If you have questions or problems that I can assist, I am best available at the email address of

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AROUND THE STATE • Columbus State University student Victor Hernandez Ramirez has just been named a winner of the national 2017 Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Competition. YYPA has been honoring promising 18- to 22-year-old artists from the world of classical, jazz and contemporary music since 1988. The 2017 winners join a distinguished company of more than 250 talented musicians who have been recognized since the program’s inception.

• The Woodland High School Band, under the direction of Eric Willoughby and Michael Kobito, has been selected to perform in the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

• Ola Middle School band has been accepted to perform at the 2017 Alabama Middle School Honor Band Festival. • Ola High School Choir students will be singing in Carnegie Hall in April of 2018 with composer Ola Gjeilo. Ola HS choir students will be traveling and performing in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. • Whitewate Middle School welcomes Elizabeth Haynes as the new Director of Bands. • The Whitewater High School Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform at the 2018 University of Alabama Honor Band Festival. Every year, the University of Alabama Music Department selects three to five high schools, from those that have applied, to perform at the High School Honor Band/Music Festival.


Director of Bands Whitewater Middle School


• National Association of Music Merchants Foundation Recognizes Georgia Schools Each year, the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation recognizes school districts that demonstrate exceptional commitment to music education. Congratulations to the six Georgia school districts that received the distinction of Best Communities for Music Education. Baldwin County Schools Clarke County School District Cobb County School District Fulton County Schools Gwinnett County Public Schools Putnam County Charter School System

Milledgeville Athens Marietta Atlanta Suwanee Eatonton

The NAMM Foundation also recognizes individual schools’ outstanding music programs with its SupportMusic Merit Award (SMMA). Congratulations to Eastside Elementary School (Douglasville), under the direction of Mary Moore-Breeding, for being among the 92 schools in the nation to receive the SMMA.


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• Daniel Kirk to join Reinhardt University’s School of Performing Arts. High school and college band students rejoice – a new professor focused on wind instruments and conducting will call Reinhardt University home in the fall. Daniel Kirk will join the School of Performing Arts as assistant professor of music and director of instrumental activities. Kirk said he likes the fact that Reinhardt offers a quaint and engaging atmosphere in which to teach the art of music. “I was attracted to the sense of community and family among students and faculty at Reinhardt,” he said. “I believe the opportunity to provide students with a world-class musical experience all while connecting in the context of a smaller student community exists at Reinhardt.” Kirk will be directing the Symphonic Winds, and will teach courses in beginning and advanced instrumental conducting. “My goal is to engage students intellectually, musically and personally in the process of creating music. I want to expand their knowledge of our subject material, enhance their individual musicianship and create meaningful personal connections between them and our shared music,” he said. “We will honor the legacy of excellent bands at Reinhardt while charting a path toward musical growth and world-class experiences. Our Reinhardt ensembles will present the highest quality of literature, programs based in standard core repertoire enhance individual musicianship and cultivate ensemble skills. I want each of my students to be prepared to achieve success in their musical futures.” Kirk is relocating from Michigan State University, where he currently is a doctoral conducting assistant and where he recently completed studies with mentor, Dr. Kevin Sedatole. He defended his dissertation in February and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting from MSU will be conferred in May. Kirk earned his Master of Music in Wind Conducting from Northwestern University in 2015 and his B.S.E. in Instrumental Music Education, Piano Performance Emphasis, in Fall 2007.


Prior to his graduate work, Kirk served as the director of bands at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, Kansas. His teaching responsibilities included the Symphonic Winds Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Honors Music Theory and Music Theory. Kirk administered and coordinated all aspects of the Red and Silver Brigade Marching Band, and he assisted with Concert Band and Freshmen Band. His dedication and hard work has not gone unnoticed by his peers. He was awarded the naDANIEL KIRK tional George N. Parks LeaderREINHARDT UNIVERSITY ship in Music Education Award by the National Association for Music Education. While under his leadership, The Blue Valley West Symphonic Wind Ensemble was awarded Highest Kansas State Level Honors by the National Foundation for Music Education and was selected to appear in honored performance at the 2013 Kansas State Music Educators’ convention. Traveling across the country each summer, he serves as a conducting faculty member for high school drum major academies; he has also served as a faculty member at Music for All's annual Summer Symposium at Ball State University. Kirk judges winter guards each year as a member of the Michigan and Mid-Continent Judging Associations. He also has toured with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, serving in the percussion section in 2004 and in the color guard in 2005. In addition, Kirk served as the front ensemble coordinator at Lee’s Summit North High School. Marching band adjudication and design consultation have been key areas in his professional experiences. Professional memberships include CBDNA and NAfME; honorary memberships include Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Kappa Kappa Psi fraternities.


JANUARY 25-27, 2018

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Reprinted with permission from The Education Trust website (

The following story is adapted from our Equity in Motion convening, when Sonja Brookins Santelises — our outgoing vice president for K-12 policy and practice, who will become CEO of Baltimore Public Schools this summer — shared the starkly contrasting experiences of two students in Baltimore.

“The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Walt Whitman

It was noon, early spring. Smack dab in the middle of the school day. The seventh-grader walked along the sidewalk in West Baltimore, empty backpack slung over a slumped shoulder, worn sneakers scuffing pavement as he moved in no particular direction.

It may have been his first suspension. Or his fifth. But what was certain was that his still-growing feet were on a road that had swallowed too many young people whose journeys astray from their schools and potential had started off this same way.

We asked him why he wasn’t in school.

At the same hour, in another Baltimore neighborhood not so far away, another seventh-grader’s similarly sized feet were stepping onto the squeaky, freshly waxed stage in the school auditorium. He, the star in the school play.

“I’m suspended,” he replied. “Oh. Well, when do you get to go back?” “I think maybe next week. I’m not really sure.” We wondered if the educators in his school had any idea that their student, not yet even in his teens, was walking the streets through open air drug markets with nowhere else to go. Or whether they knew what he knew even at his tender age, that those streets would accept him when his school would not.


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A struggling student, he was more accustomed to the flickering fluorescent strip lighting in the back of the class than the spotlight that now shone down on him. His interest had been awakened in seventh-grade English class, where he was assigned by his teacher to read a play. The twisting plot, punchy dialogue, vivid characters, and pulse-racing drama excited his imagination and ignited his curiosity and thirst for knowl-

edge. He should try out for the school play, his teacher encouraged him. He did, and was cast in the lead. He was lifted by high expectations and warm applause. He was transforming, seeing himself as he could be. As his teacher already saw him. The seventh-grader walking the streets nearby at noon on a school day, suspended, was also transforming. Was also seeing himself as he could be. Perhaps as his teachers already saw him. Less than a mile apart in geography and closer than that in experience, these two sev-


enth-graders could have been the same kid. They could have been brothers. Fragile central figures in the early acts of their own plays. But their stories unfolded differently, one drawn into the warmth of their school in nurturing embrace, the other narrative expelled out onto the cold streets. Educators lament about the powerful lure of the streets outside our schools. That lure is real, and we are not naïve to it. But, too often, educators forget about the even more powerful lure of engaging learning and opportunity inside their walls. The lure of chemistry experiments that inspire the next scientist, fierce political debates that spur the next president, rich literature that sets off the next poet laureate, complex equations that engross the next mathematician. We cannot control the open air drug trade on the streets that some of our kids travel and play on. But we can surely help to control whether they are on those streets during the school day. And we absolutely can control the experiences they have in the classroom. We can control what we do to draw them into school, to expand their minds with engaging learning, and to help them imagine a future for themselves beyond what they may see outside the school doors.

About the Author

A former high school dropout from an urban public school system, Senior Writer Brooke Haycock has been with The Education Trust for more than a decade. Her issue-focused docudramas, based entirely on interviews with students and educators, transform research into performance, exposing the stories behind the data and driving straight to the heart of debate around equity in schools. Brooke is the author of Ed Trust’s Echoes From the Gap series, and her other off-stage writing — focused on student stories and message communication in schools — has appeared in Phi Delta Kappan and is regularly featured in Ed Trust’s blog, The Equity Line. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of California–Santa Barbara and a master’s from Johns Hopkins.

The stories of those two seventh-graders, and the hundreds of thousands of seventh-graders just like them, are unfolding in our schools at this very moment. And we have the honor of contributing a verse. What that verse will be is up to us.


VETERAN 10 Questions for Experienced Teachers





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MUSIC IN A TIME OF NEED How Music Educators Can Help Today’s Refugee Children Theresa Ja-Young Kim © 2017 New York State School Music Association. Permission granted for one time re-publication in the Georgia Music News.

While millions of people are currently displaced due to the Syrian refugee crisis, their children are suffering from the lack of a stable educational structure. In refugee camps, it is an enormous challenge to address the many needs of these families, especially considering that they come from various backgrounds and speak different languages. As educators here in the United States attempt to help newly settled refugee children acclimate in schools, it can be helpful for them to search for the most common channels for communication – perhaps a universal phenomenon such as music. Aside from the many instructional and societal benefits we understand about music, its healing and therapeutic effects can also provide a much needed escape for these children. This article provides a glimpse of what some educators are currently doing at refugee camps and suggests ways in which teachers can work with students here in the United States.


ince the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, the conflict has driven 4.8 million refugees from their homes (figures as of 3 Feb. 2016, Amnesty International). During what is arguably one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, many people do not realize what happens to children when such catastrophic events disrupt their lives. As of September 2016, UNICEF reports that 2.6 million children are presently displaced from their homes and schools, fueling a global migrant crisis. International aid organizations and governments working with these displaced families focus primarily on immediate services such as securing status and providing food, shelter, and basic needs. According to Amnesty International, 93% of Syrian refugees in urban areas in Jordan are living below the poverty line, as are 70% of the refugees in Lebanon, 65% in Egypt, and 37% in Iraq. Even for those who find refuge in a camp, safety is a major concern. According to The Educator, children regularly go missing as predators lure them into vehicles and entice them with gifts. In such a state of chaos, it can be understandably difficult for families in their ad hoc communities to think about providing structured educational resources for their children. Families in transient situations or refugee camps first have basic needs. Then, they may seek some form of education and structure for their children. What happens to the children on a day-to-day basis? How can they cultivate their minds when the routines they once knew have been shattered and they suddenly have no such thing as a school to at-

tend? What kind of adults are they going to become? They have not only lost their homes, but also their societies, and while children wait for their families to navigate through the complexities of starting all over in a foreign country, they have very little to do. Some of them have witnessed their parents being treated like third class citizens, and many carry the physical and emotional scars of war. On a scale of this magnitude, it is overwhelming to provide a sustainable solution, especially one where organized education can thrive. In attempting to bring a sense of normalcy to refugee children in camps and holding centers, providing them with structured education in some form can help. When teachers attempt to work with these students, perhaps some of the vast multi-cultural issues can be addressed by first identifying the most obvious and open channels for communication. Many of these children cannot speak the same language, but what about a medium they can all share and understand, such as music? Music has the ability to bring people from various backgrounds together (Suttie, 2015), transcending boundaries the way words cannot. At a basic level, human response to music is even physiological as well as emotional (Habibi & Damasio, 2014). Through musical exploration, children can expand their creative minds and find an expressive outlet or an escape. Perhaps a manageable performance goal can even motivate them to focus and sustain attention. Progress can also be fun, rewarding, and empower students as they discover their talents. Providing displaced people with an educational structure can help them feel like

they belong to a community and boost morale. Musical activity not only gives a child something to do, but helps cultivate self-esteem and develops lasting and transferable life skills (Dockwray & Moore, 2008), which one can use to benefit in other areas of life. Music is also something that can make a child feel proud of or to call his or her own. Though all may have been taken away from someone, music cannot be. For these people who have lost so much, hopefully they can also find solace, healing, or much needed distraction in music. In addition, meaningful music-making can provide a way of engaging with tensions between cultures (Dillon, 2007). Musical activity can influence emotions and have the potential to facilitate social as well as personal transformation. Therefore, it can help us forge relationships between cultures and foster understanding. Dillon explains further that music represents knowledge and can also serve as a container or vehicle for knowledge transfer, also suggesting that music-making provides self-motivated and personal experiences. Inspired by UNICEF’s Education Cannot Wait initiative, organizations like Be Aware and Share (BAAS, a Swiss NGO) provide education programs for children on the island of Chios in Greece. According to Save the Children, young refugees in Greece have been out of school for an average of 18 months, and one in five have never been enrolled in school (Trafford, 2016). Leaving their chaotic holding centers to go to a class can provide a sense of stability, routine, and responsibility. Organizations like BAAS first attempt to teach students basic skills through

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. NELSON MANDELA


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‫رايدلا ةامح‬

lessons like “how to brush your teeth” and “how to garden”. In the 2017 article, “Refugee Camp Teachers and the Challenges they Face”, The Educator reported that the most visible differences between working in a mainstream school and working in a refugee camp are the physical conditions. They have had to teach outdoors in fields and hiding from rainstorms, using tents and makeshift sheds constructed from canopies. They also battle the cold and the sun. Rain has soaked their teaching materials and supplies. Rats have destroyed their books. Sometimes they lose electricity and water. The can-do attitude of these teachers is awe-inspiring. However dismal the conditions of these teachers and students are, progress through education is possible and music can be used to generate traction. In 2002, Norwegian teachers started community music activities for young people in the Palestinian camp called Rashedie. Located in Lebanon, the project has grown into a permanent weekly activity for children ages 7-20. Students rehearse in smaller groups before joining an orchestra, providing a sense of belonging to a group. According to a study conducted by Broeske-Danielsen in 2013, teachers noted that having no common language between themselves and students posed the greatest challenge. However, they soon learned that “there are many factors in music that can be communicated through demonstrating and playing together” (student teacher). Another reported, “I have to be very active with non-verbal communication. Clear body language and making use of imitation is a productive approach”. These nonverbal cues (body language and music) can be honed as powerful communicative tools and can be used it as an integral part of teaching strategies. For families currently displaced by the Syrian conflict, the most secure resolution is to be legally resettled to a stable environment where parents can obtain status, work, and enroll their children in schools. Having to resettle is challenging for anyone, but for young people in particular, it is a daunting time due to the added complexities of being at a critical stage of life development (Kimmel &

Weiner, 1995; Bevan, 2000). As refugee families relocate and settle into their new communities, teachers in the United States may encounter these students in their classrooms, and they face the challenging task of adjusting to the influx of cultures being introduced into their classrooms. In such cases, it is important for them, their schools, and policy makers to be cognizant of the various cultural differences that exist. Unlike certain academic subjects where perhaps English competency is necessary for comprehension, the music classroom may serve as a platform on which communication can happen through the connective and collaborative features of music. Through such activities, an exchange of cultural understanding can take place (Volk, 2004). Music can often be used as a common denominator or starting place of a conversation, providing opportunities for students to develop skills and behaviors that can be transferred to other areas of life (Austin, 2002). Through musical exchange, educators can help make the new students feel like they are part of a community – a place where they can freely express themselves, their talents, and interests. Teachers can find ways in which students can “speak” to each other, by designing lesson plans that include rhythm and improvisation exercises, use imagery, call and response techniques (imitation), composition/song-writing (creation), and ensemble playing or singing (collaboration). These are some of the many techniques in which music and movement-based activities have been documented as being effective ways of dealing with young refugees who have experienced trauma (Sutton, 2000; Jones et al., 2004; Day & Jones, 2005). Conversely, this is also an opportune moment for American students to learn about new cultures and expand their global horizons through the introduction of folk music from the new students’ native countries. Such exchanges can help empower both groups of students. Through nurturing, carefully guided musical experiences, instructors can encourage social integration between them. Many organizations, some backed by governments, have successfully used music

to create bridges between divided societies and to address issues such as poverty. For instance, the El Sistema program, which originated in Venezuela and now has a vast reach across several continents, states its mission as “a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation's neediest kids” (www.fundamusical. The West–Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded by the venerable pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, “aims to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict” ( The charitable organization Canadian Safe School Network has devised a list of strategies for implementation so that refugee students can transition smoothly into their new and formalized school settings, including the use of music, art, and sports. Many smaller organizations that use music as a vehicle for social causes exist as well. Perhaps drawing attention to today’s refugee crisis can help lead to more children being included in such efforts: Music for Refugees bring music to detention centers, Voices of Zaatari by Oxfam International uses music to help refugees cope with life in camps, and The Hutto Project in Berlin provides general music classes to children in detention camps. Through such examples, we see how music education can be used as a social praxis to improve interpersonal and social relationships, though it is essential to remember that the teachers in these organizations need to devise positive, participatory activities (Cabedo-Mas & Díaz-Gómez, 2013). For those of us who want to learn more about how we musicians and educators in the United States can help in this crisis, we should first embrace and appreciate our ability to make music and to teach. Musicians can use their critical thinking skills to find creative teaching solutions; we can draw upon these skills to touch children’s lives and have a meaningful, lasting impact on our society. Teaching artists who are moved to humanitarianism can work through agencies to visit camps to work with the children on the ground. Regardless of whether our classrooms have refugee stu-

summer 2017 // georgia music news


dents or not, we can spur activism and community spirit in our students by designing cultural awareness projects or working with them to use music to fundraise for existing programs (such as benefit concerts or donation drives). Feeling engaged in an activity and goal-setting for social good can be a positive experience for these students as well. Can we be even more ambitious? If we can galvanize our efforts and inspire the next generation by showing these children that better things are possible, maybe we can hope to widen their perspectives and foster global, empathetic citizens. The effect that educators can have on children is profound and palpable (Pitts, 2012). Let us remember this and realize that what we can do with music holds tremendous power. Music has the unique ability to transcend boundaries and borders. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we use both to better society, to bring people together, and to help those in need. Sometimes we may feel powerless. Sometimes we may feel frustrated. But in the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


georgia music news // summer 2017


Austin, D. (2002). The voice of trauma. A wounded healer’s perspective. In J.P. Sutton (Ed.), Music, music therapy and trauma: international perspectives (231-259). London: Jessica Kingsley. Bevan, K. (2000). Young people, culture, migration and mental health: a review of the literature. In Bashir, M. & Bennett, D. (Eds.), Deeper dimensions: culture, youth and mental health (1-63). Sydney: Transcultural Mental Health Centre Broeske-Danielsen, B.A. (2013). Community music activity in a refugee camp – student music teachers' practicum experiences. Music Education Research, 15(3). Cabedo-Mas, A., & Díaz-Gómez, M. (2013). Positive musical experiences in education: music as a social praxis. Music Education Research, 15(4). Day, T. & Jones, C. (2005). Harmony in diversity: using music therapy to address the needs of traumatized refugee youth. In Kellehear, K., Teesson, M., Miller, V., Hanlon, P., Issakidis, C., & Robertson, S., et al. (Eds.), Harvesting hope: across the lifespan. Sydney: Contemporary The MHS in Mental Health Services, Gold Coast Conference Proceedings 2004. Dillon, S. (2007). Music, Meaning and Transformation: Meaningful Music Making for Life. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Dockwray, R. & Moore, A. (2008). Evidencing transferable skills in undergraduate music education. Higher Education Academy (accessed November 17, 2016). Habibi, A., & Damasio, A. Music, feelings, and the human brain. Psychomusicology, 24(1), 92-102. Retrieved from www.eduproxy.tclibrary. org/?url=/docview/1549612168?accountid=14258. Jones, C., Baker, F. & Day, T. (2004). From healing rituals to music therapy: bridging the cultural divide between therapist and young Sudanese refugees, Arts in Psychotherapy, 31(89–100). Kimmel, D. C. & Weiner, I. B. (1995). Adolescence: a developmental transition. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Pitts, S. (2012). Chances and choices. Cary, GB: Oxford University Press. Refugee Camp Teachers and the Challenges they Face. (2017). Retrieved March 8, 2017, from Suttie, J. (2015). Four ways music strengthens social bonds. Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. Retrieved from Sutton, J. (2000). Aspects of music therapy with children in areas of community conflict. In Dokter, D., Glassman, J., (Eds.), Exile: refugees and the art therapies (54-73). Hertford: University of Hertfordshire Faculty of Art and Design Press. Trafford, R. (2016). Inside the incredible school teaching refugee children on the Greek island of Chios. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http:// Volk, T. M. (2004). Music, education, and multiculturalism: Foundations and principles. Oxford University Press on Demand.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Theresa Ja-Young Kim lives in New York City, where she is a student at Teachers College Columbia University. She is currently working towards her Doctorate in Music Education. Her previous graduate and undergraduate degrees are from The Juilliard School, where she majored in Piano Performance. She is the founder and director of International Music Sessions, a summer education program that fosters cultural exchange through music, and her research interests include multi-cultural education, curriculum development, and professional training for musicians.

summer 2017 // georgia music news



VETERAN 10 Questions for Experienced Teachers


Michael E. Thomas is in his tenth year as Director of Bands at Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Georgia. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education Degree in 1995 from Troy University and graduated with his Master of Science in Education Degree in 1999 also from Troy University. Mr. Thomas also holds an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota, in Sarasota, Florida. He is a member of the Southeastern United States Honor Band and Clinic Band Board of Directors at Troy University. His professional organizations include Phi Beta Mu International School Bandmaster Fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Fraternity for College Bandsmen, National Association for Music Education, Georgia Music Educators Association, and the Georgia Association of Educators.

1. Please tell us a bit about your musical background and teaching experience. I joined the middle school band program in 1984 when I was in the sixth grade. At the time, I was a little skeptical about being in the band program because none of my friends from my neighborhood were doing it. After a short period of time, I started to get to know a whole different set of people that made me see life in a completely different way. The concept of setting short-term and long-term goals and working with my new friends to try to achieve them was one of the best feelings imaginable. When I got to high school, the challenges and goals became more intense because everyone was so much better than I was. We went through a series of band director changes and finally got one that was willing to endure the few of us that were a little rough around the edges. If it were not for my high school band director, David Seanor, and my best friend and college roommate, Gerrod McClellan, I probably would have never gone to college much less become a band director. Mr. Seanor made all of us feel like we were a part of a team and challenged us with great music. I only realized how challenging the music was when I tried to read some of the same pieces with my high school groups. I attended college at Troy State University (Troy University now) in Alabama and had four great years with Dr. John M. Long. Dr. Long’s work ethic and drive to be successful are two things I will never forget. I was very fortunate, as all of us were, to be able to listen to everything he had to say about band, the art of making music, life, love and just being a good human being. There are so many wonderful stories I could share about some of


georgia music news // summer 2017

the things he has said that have impacted my life but, literally, there are not enough pages in this magazine. I started my teaching career in 1995 at Calhoun County High School in Edison, Georgia. After receiving a few offers from other places, I chose this school because I had an opportunity to start a band program that had been nonexistent for many years. I had to do a lot of recruiting. My first year there everyone was a beginner. We had to order everything from chairs and stands to instruments, uniforms and music. I think that experience made me start believing in myself as an educator. In just a short period of time, we were able to do concerts, parades, and footballs games. We also participated in Large Group Performance Evaluation (Concert Festival back then) and received an excellent rating. After a couple years there, I accepted a position at Americus High School (Americus-Sumter High School now) in Americus, Georgia. It was there I met one of the greatest teachers, leaders, and administrators of my career. In my eight-year tenure at Americus High School, Mrs. Juanita Wilson taught me so much about teamwork, family, life and effective organizational administration. She was so dynamic! She encouraged me to go back to school and get two more degrees, one in Music Education and the other in Leadership. Shortly after the merger of Americus High School and Sumter County High School, I accepted a position at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia. At that point, Northside became one of the biggest challenges of my career. The challenge had nothing to do with music itself but the realization that to have any kind of impact on the success of a band program, the administration, additional directors, staff, parents, and students had to be

on the same page. When there is irreconcilable discord between any of those areas, the success of any band program will be in peril. After only one year in Warner Robins, I accepted a position at Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Georgia. When I arrived, there were approximately sixty instrumentalists in the band program, and now we have approximately two hundred students that are involved in our program. Although I have had my share of challenges at Valdosta High School over the last eleven years, we have managed to have many students selected as members of the District Honor Band, District Jazz Ensemble, South Region Honor Band, AllState Jazz Ensemble and the All-State Concert Band.

2. What first drew you to music education? My high school band director, David Seanor, was the first person that drew me to music education. As I mentioned earlier, he came into a situation that was not the most desirable at the time. I have to start this story with four words that will help you appreciate the humor…”I am a percussionist.” As the story goes, I was the timpanist for our top ensemble to try and stay away from everyone else and not get in trouble. One day in the middle of a rehearsal for no reason at all (if you are a band director reading this you are smiling now), he stops the rehearsal and tells me to get in his office. After watching him change a color or two and hearing a few choice vocabulary words, he said, “If you think you can do it better, then you need to get your own band.” I wasn’t dumb enough to think I could do it any better, but I left his office with those words ringing in my ears. In that moment of chastisement, Mr. Seanor’s somewhat prophetic words set me in motion toward my destiny of “getting my own band.” Until that moment, I thought it was something that I could never do. I am sure he remembers that story a little differently (band directors are smiling once again), but that’s the way I remember it, and I am sticking to it no matter what version he says.

3. Who has been the biggest influence on your teaching career? What lessons did that person teach you? I don’t think one person was ultimately the biggest influence on my teaching career. I think the successes and longevity I have had to this point have come from a group of people with the same core fundamental belief system about music education. These band directors, colleagues, and friends have given me so many of their philosophies and lessons about the do’s and don’ts of music education, and then they have passed me to the next person. I will always be grateful for Susan Averill, my middle school band director, David Seanor, my high school band director, John M. Long, my college band director, and Earl Franks, my mentor teacher. Each of these people gave me a wealth of knowledge about life




and music education and led me to other people like Jessie Walker, Gene Wyles, and Frank Butenschon, who in my opinion are legends in the profession. The fundamental lessons that each of these individuals shared are always try to be a good person, work harder than you think you have to, always do your best with what you have, never be afraid to ask for help, and, lastly, always help others as much as you can. All of my mentors had these lessons and many more in common. Some shared them verbally and others shared them by example. Although some have passed away, I can only hope to live up to the standards they set for the field of music education, band directors, and the students they served and still serve.

4. What have been the biggest changes to music education in the course of your career? I think consistency of administrators, test scores, and additional course requirements are affecting music education. Many of us have heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Today in education the “village” is constantly changing, and it has become increasingly harder for a child to have any consistency in school. We as music educators know one of the most important things we need for our students to flourish is consistency. Early in my career, the average shelf life for an administrator in one school would be 10-15 years. Now, I think the average shelf life of a central office or school-level administrator in their position is 3-5 years. Administrator success is being determined by test scores and numbers. That pressure to perform, which is common for band directors, is passed down to the assistant principals, department heads and ultimately classroom teachers. This creates a huge turnover rate in the village and more remedial or study skills classes for students. To take those remedial or study skills classes, students are pulled from their elective courses. Also, there is a huge push to add more Advanced Placement Courses, International Baccalaureate Courses, STEM Courses, Move On When Ready Courses, Duel Enrollment Course and the like. Many of the courses and programs that were designed to help students have ultimately placed higher pressure and greater restrictions on students while also removing students from the high schools setting and typically out of

summer 2017 // georgia music news


band programs in some shape or form. It is hard for the village to raise the child consistently if we are systematically taking the child out of the village.

5. How has your teaching philosophy evolved throughout your career? In college and earlier in my career, I thought I would be getting as much experience as I could so I would have the tools needed to get the band director dream job. This dream job would have affluent students, two-parent households, the students taking private lessons, students with superior musical aptitude, the band booster organization would raise tons of money, and my school system would let me buy anything I wanted for the band. My career has looked nothing like that image. In fact, most of the jobs I have taken during my career haven’t been in very affluent places at all. I think the biggest shift in my philosophy came when I realized every location and situation needs a good band director so the students can have as many opportunities to have life-changing experience as possible. If band directors constantly spent their time and energy trying to leave one job in search of greener pastures, what would happen to the kids in less affluent schools who still want and need a quality music education? As a music educator, I think the Lord built us to share our knowledge and skill set with students in every situation, not just the really good ones.

6. What has been the proudest moment of your teaching career? This year I was very fortunate to be selected as the GMEA Music Educator of the Year. Although that was a great moment for me personally, my proudest moments have always been with my students. During my first year of teaching, Calhoun County High School hadn’t had a band program in many years. My first year there we didn’t do a half time show but we played in the stands and did concerts. At the end of the school year, they had a big community parade called the May Day Parade, and the band was asked to march in the parade. We only had six percussionists that year, and all of them were pretty small. We practiced after school a lot to get ready for it. I wanted to show everyone what to expect because they had never done a parade. I kept reinforcing to them that they were making history and how proud I was of them for their effort. One of the smallest bass drummers we had didn’t make it after about twenty minutes or so into each rehearsal before we had to sit him down. On the parade day, I was very worried about him. He slowed down, wobbled and at one point quit playing. I walked back to him and told


georgia music news // summer 2017

him I would carry the drum for him if he wanted, and he said no. He was going to finish the parade so I would be proud of him. I walked back there several times to tell him he was already a success, and he didn’t have to prove anything to me. After about a half mile, I realized he wasn’t going to put that drum down unless he was unconscious, so every time I went back to check on him I kept telling him he could do it and to just keep up the good work for a little longer. When we finished the parade, a parent and I rushed to the back to take the drum off. This middle school student almost fell to the ground before I caught him. He put his arms around me and said, “I did it Mr. Thomas! I did it!” I was so proud of him for pushing himself and never giving up. We were both crying as I carried him back to the bus. Alvin Williams, you will never realize how much you impacted my life and teaching career that day. I love you man!

7. What wisdom/experience/skills do you hope students gain from their time in your program? I hope my students have learned a lot about life. I hope my students learn a lot about what they are capable of accomplishing with maximum effort, self-discipline, time management, how to set and reach goals and work as a group to accomplish them. I hope they have gained a sense of family and camaraderie with their fellow band members and realize the importance of self-sacrifice and patience.

8. Is there a particular musical work or composer to which you feel all students should be exposed? This is a very tough question because of all of the new composers out there. I like Sousa marches, Holtz and Grainger. My college band director, Dr. John M. Long, and my high school band director, David Seanor, both have said over and over again that good bands play transcriptions. They have also both said that there are only two kinds of music in the band repertoire, good music and bad music. Everyone should try to play as much of the good music as possible.

9. What advice would you offer teachers beginning careers in music education? If I had any advice to offer a beginning teacher it would be to be patient. Your dream job probably won’t be the first one…or the second one for that matter. Don’t be afraid to ask for help even though you may know everything. Try not to be so ego driven. Don’t be so caught up in repertoire and performance venues for your resume that you forget about the kids you are teaching.

10. What still inspires you about teaching? The most inspirational thing about teaching that still inspires me is when a student finally gets something musically that you have been trying to get them to understand during every rehearsal. When the light “comes on,” it’s so motivational and inspirational that you start working even harder to flip other switches. Additionally, I am very inspired when my former students are successful at life. When I have former students that graduate college, get married, have children, get a job promotion, or reach some other milestone, it always makes me want to work harder so that all of my students can have those same kinds of successes. I also have students that have become band directors. Every time I hear about former students that are doing a wonderful job in the field of music education like Aaron Snipes at Park Vista High School in Florida, I am inspired all over again. It makes me even more excited about the next work day.


VETERAN 10 Questions for Experienced Teachers

Know an experienced teacher that should be featured in a future article of The Veteran 10? Fill out a submission form for Georgia Music News at

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summer 2017 // georgia music news



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georgia music news // summer 2017

summer 2017 // georgia music news


2016-2017 GMN Summer Issue  

The Tale of Two Seventh Graders, Music in a Time of Need, NAMM Foundation, and more!

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