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
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.