C-NAfME hosts Diversifying Music Ed Symposium

In order to provide information on making music education more accessible to all children, the Collegiate National Association for Music Education (C-NAfME) Lawrence University chapter hosted a “Decolonizing and Diversifying Music Education” symposium on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The Second Annual C-NAfME Symposium was held from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Shattuck 163. The student-organized symposium featured three presenters and a social catered by Victoria’s Italian Cuisine. The event was open to all students, regardless of major or association with C-NAfME.

The first presenter, Professor in Music at Edgewood College Beatriz Aguilar, gave a talk titled, “Mexican and Mexican-American Music: The Development of Ethnic Identities.” Her workshop offered students the opportunity to learn about the role music plays in the development and expression of identity, specifically of Mexican and Mexican-Americans.

Aguilar’s discussion was filled with anecdotes of her son who is considered a Third-Culture Kid. The term Third-Culture Kid relates to the idea of Mexican-American children having one foot in one culture, one foot in another, causing them to create their own, third culture. These are the children, Aguilar informed Lawrence students, who would be in their classrooms most of the time.

Aguilar proceeded to explain how educators can use music to rescue cultural identity. According to Aguilar, one of the roles of educators is to help students figure out who they are and also who they want to be. She explained how vital music is to the formation of identity.

Through a collection of authentic Mexican songs and games, Aguilar emphasized all that could be learned from a culture through a short song or a simple game. Students were encouraged to participate in her examples in order to learn about the Mexican culture.

The second clinician, a middle school music teacher at the University School of Milwaukee Miriam Altman, discussed the importance of movement in music through an activity-based exercise. She also spoke of her efforts to incorporate multi-cultural aspects into her curriculum. According to Altman, movement develops “the learner’s individual expression, self-knowledge, and artistic skill.”

The final presenter, Dinorah Márquez, discussed the Latino Arts Strings Program she directs in the Milwaukee area. According to Márquez, her goal for the program “is not for her students to be cute but to be excellent,” for she does not want them to be tokenized. Through this program, she provides Latino children of lower socioeconomic status instruments and access to music ranging from Mozart to mariachi.

Following the presentations, a social was held in order to allow alumni, Appleton Area School District teachers, Lawrence students and the faculty presenters to mingle and collaborate. This opportunity to converse aligned with the national goal of the organization to provide professional development opportunities to help music educators grow.

The area of growth that the C-NAfME board at Lawrence has chosen to target this year is diversity. According to sophomore and C-NAfME President Alex Medina, “It takes thinkers and students to be committed to asking questions about whether there is a better way or a different way to teach our students.”

These different ways of teaching are discussed regularly at the C-NAfME meetings, which occur every Tuesday. At the meetings, different speakers are brought in to discuss music education-related topics, including diversity and community building. The club is open to all students and advised by Associate Professor of Music Brigetta Miller and Assistant Professor of Music Matthew Arau ‘97.

Arau’s goal upon coming to Lawrence University in 2014 was to create a sense of community, connection and belonging amongst the music education students at Lawrence while also promoting diversity and inclusion in music education.

While discussing the goals of the Lawrence C-NAfME chapter, Arau explained, “We are trying to teach differently, learn differently, broaden our horizons [and] bring in music from a broader range of cultures and ethnicities.”

As Arau emphasized the importance of music and the necessity of making it accessible to every student, he went on to explain the profound effects music has on individuals. “Music,” according to Arau, “is the one thing that teaches us to listen to each other.” Through this idea of listening and collaborating, Arau explained the possibility of peace with music being its pathway.