Together Toward Tomorrow

Scott R. Sheehan • NAfME NeighborhoodSeptember 2023 • September 10, 2023

The start of a new year always brings new opportunities and new possibilities. Welcome to a school year that will be filled with meaningful music making, profound growth, and lasting connection for our students and music educators alike. As a new school year begins, most of us feel a sense of optimism knowing there are infinite possibilities to tap into our students’ potential as they develop their musical identities. As educators, we also have new opportunities to hone our craft, learn from colleagues, advocate for our students, create new ensembles, listen to a podcast, compose something for our students, incorporate more technology, give our students more voice and choice, focus on our mental health, and the list goes on and on and on.

NAfME Collegiate members meet with NAfME President Scott Sheehan, NAfME Collegiate Advisory Council Chair Susan Smith, and NAfME Assistant Executive Director of Advocacy and Public Policy Amanda Karhuse at the 2022 Midwest Clinic.

In my opinion, this year is one of hope, purpose, and significance. We are on the precipice of what is the new normal after three and a half years of unprecedented challenge and change. Our profession has grown exponentially in so many ways since 2020, and now we can set the course for what comes next. It is with this optimism and opportunity for creating a new normal that NAfME’s theme this year is Together Toward Tomorrow. By working together, arm in arm, we can face the challenges within our school systems, both PK-12 and in higher education. I truly believe each of us has something to learn and something to give to our profession, and NAfME is here to support everyone who has a vested interest in advancing music education.

In the last few months, through the hard work of countless volunteer leaders and our very dedicated staff, NAfME launched a new website; hosted the Forging the Future of Music Education Symposium during the National Leadership Assembly; released a monumental report about the future of music education called the Blueprint for Strengthening the Music Teacher Profession; launched an initiative to provide resources and connect music educators from Small Schools; released a report and related resources on Divisive Concepts Laws (SBO+: see our July 2023 issue), and returned to advocate in person on Capitol Hill during our annual Hill Day. This is in addition to all the valuable professional learning opportunities and advocacy work NAfME does at the national level, AND all of the outstanding benefits our members receive from their state MEAs and the great resources our partner organizations provide. Together we’re heading toward a very exciting tomorrow!

Every day on television Mr. Rogers sang, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” There is certainly a positive feeling within the NAfME neighborhood that the outlook for music education is bright. I am optimistic that this year more students will have equitable access to music education by building on many of the initiatives already mentioned, and by continuing to collaborate with our partners – especially the more than 80 organizations who are part of the Music Education Policy Roundtable. There is power when we speak together with one voice about the importance of music education!

Supporting the work outlined in our Strategic Plan, NAfME has many resources and exciting things planned as music educators and students at all levels return to their classrooms. Here is just some of what we are planning for this fall:

– The Collegiate Kickoff Week is scheduled for September 11–15 and will focus on ways college music educator majors can connect with NAfME and their state MEA through advocacy, service, music performance, and promoting chapter membership and activities. Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. 

– The Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE) will host the Elevating a Culture of Belonging Symposium on October 12–14 in Salt Lake City, UT. Dr. Carla Shalaby, Coordinator of Social Justice Initiatives and Community Internships at the Marsal Family School of Education, University of Michigan, will be the Susan Conkling Keynote Address speaker, and Dr. Nicole R. Robinson, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Cultural Connections by Design, will present a plenary session. Be sure to check out the full schedule and the many exciting sessions on the SMTE website.

– Remember to renew or start your Tri-M chapter this year! Tri-M provides a win-win for students to be recognized for their service and achievement as they support their community and schools, all while doing this through the power of music! Watch for the Fall Tri-M Rally so you can learn how your chapter can be recognized.

– Also coming this fall, be on the lookout for new material on NAfME’s Equity Resource Center. The Equity Committee and Equity Leadership Institute have been working to develop and collate pertinent resources for music educators in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

– There are many professional learning opportunities on the NAfME Learning Center scheduled for the coming year, as well as archived materials in the NAfME Academy. The Professional Learning and Partnerships Committee works hard to determine music educators’ needs and seeks to provide relevant webinars and town hall discussions. Check out the NAfME website for specific information. 

Together, we are forging a brighter future for music education, one student, one person, one class, one school, one day, one song, and sometimes… one note at a time. Have a great year everyone and I wish you all the very best!

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!