When Shanaya Young ’21 came to Lynchburg as a music education major, she simply “wanted to teach people how to play strings.” That was it. Since then, the University of Lynchburg’s vibrant music program has opened her eyes — and some doors to exciting opportunities. This fall, Young was one of 18 students to attend the 40th Anniversary Virginia Music Educators Association conference at The Homestead, a resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
“VMEA exposes music education students to this giant web of other music educators — all of whom have different things to offer,” Young said. “And every year that I get to go, I’ve left with something new to use in my own classroom.”
Along with five faculty members from the department, music education students attended performances, professional development workshops, interactive presentations, and roundtable talks. The conference ran November 21 through 23.
“It was fun, exciting, and rejuvenating to spend time in conversation with music educators from across the state and region,” said Dr. Kara Eaton Dean, an associate professor of music at Lynchburg.
What made her proud, Dean added, was seeing colleagues and students share their talents and expertise. was seeing colleagues and students share their talents and expertise.
As University of Lynchburg representatives on the Collegiate Honors Recital, students Colin Coviello ’21 and Malik Nowlin ’21, with Dr. Cynthia Ramsey, an associate professor of music, performed “Tango Etude No. 3” by Astor Piazzolla, arranged by applied saxophone faculty member Kyle Greaney. Kaitlyn Langford ’22 was elected state secretary of the Collegiate Virginia Music Educators Association (CoVMEA).
Ramsey and Dr. Oeida Hatcher, an associate professor of music, presented “Are All Students Really Equal? Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education.” Dean, who also serves as the University of Lynchburg chapter advisor for CoVMEA, presented a research poster with colleague and research partner Dr. Susan Davis, an assistant professor of music education at CUNY Queens College. The topic: “Culturally Responsive Programming in the Orchestra Classroom: A Survey of Instrumental Ensemble Teachers.”
Music instructor Jeremy Craft ’12 MEd, ’16 MA spoke on using text as the primary motivation for interpreting choral scores in his talk “Through the Beauty of Text.”
“It’s a fantastic experience to get to see my professors present,” Young said. “It’s refreshing to see them outside of [class], but still in their element. They give wonderful examples of professionalism, and great research guidance.”
Young’s favorite? A professional development session led by Dr. Sandy Goldie, an assistant professor of music education at Virginia Commonwealth University. Its title: “Rehearsing the Middle School Orchestra.”
“Dr. Goldie gave ideas and tools to make orchestra fun for the students — not just for me,” Young said. “These new things will keep students engaged in their own music education, and teaches them why it is important.”
It’s safe to say Young will be first in line when the 2020 VMEA conference, to be held in Norfolk, Virginia, rolls around.
“This is an affirming experience because I always come back from VMEA with more passion for music education,” Young said. “Getting to attend this conference makes me stronger as a music educator, and solidifies that this is what I was meant to do with my life.”