Dr. Brenner selected to be National ASTA President-Elect

We would like to share the amazing news with everyone and congratulate our very own INASTA member, Dr. Brenda Brenner (IU Jacobs School of Music) for being selected as the new NATIONAL ASTA PRESIDENT-ELECT!!


Dr. Brenner will be an amazing source of inspiration to all string teachers throughout the world we are SO proud to call her one of our very own! We look forward to her incredible leadership! You can read more about Dr. Brenner here: http://info.music.indiana.edu/faculty/current/brenner-brenda.shtml. Please join me in congratulating her! She can be reached at: bbrenner@indiana.edu



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IU music school pairs with Templeton to teach first-graders to play guitar

Chris McConnell gives a class of first-graders some pointers as he leads a guitar lesson last week at Templeton Elementary School.

Chris McConnell gives a class of first-graders some pointers as he leads a guitar lesson last week at Templeton Elementary School.

By Mary Keck

First-graders at Templeton Elementary School are pickin’ and grinnin’ with the help of the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Their guitars are half-sized, yet the instruments look huge on the knees of the little learners. That doesn’t mean they can’t make a big sound, however.

“They’re good at loud,” Katy Strand said with a laugh. She is an associate professor of music at Indiana University. Twice a week, Strand, Chris McConnell, Petar Jankovic and assistants who are music education and performance majors at IU meet up with Kathy Nesbitt’s first-grade class.

During each lesson, 23 students can be heard down the halls as they sing and strum songs such as “Jingle Bells” under the guidance of McConnell, a graduate of IU’s music education program. The trick to teaching such a young group is “keeping activities short and moving from one to another,” McConnell said.

The students start with a chant as they take their instruments from their cases. “Left hand neck and right hand body. Turn it sideways very gently. On the left knee like a cradle. Rock the baby just a little,” they said in unison.

First-grader Alonzo Harvey practices his guitar-playing technique last week at Templeton Elementary School.

First-grader Alonzo Harvey practices his guitar-playing technique last week at Templeton Elementary School.

The chant helps the students learn not only how to hold a guitar, but also how to care for the instrument. The half-size guitars were donated to the program by Yamaha, and the C chord is marked with a small, orange sticker, while the G7 chord has a green sticker.

“Show me your best posture,” McConnell reminded them, and the first-graders sat up straight on their stools. When he announced they’d be playing “Jingle Bells,” the class erupted in cheers and wiggles. Once McConnell got them settled down again, the young musicians not only strummed the guitars, they also sang while they played and read notation.

“Jingle Bells” lyrics were displayed on a screen at the front of the room, and at the end of each line was a colored bell icon. One orange bell meant one strum on the C chord, while two green bells meant two strums with G7 held down. “Bite down on the orange chord,” McConnell instructed as they played, and the students pressed down on the string with their tiny fingers. Then, he guided them along, counting, “1, 2, 3, rest.”

The students watched McConnell and listened carefully, eager to brush their fingertips against the strings at just the right moment. If they needed help, one of the assistants walked over and helped them with their fingering or reminded them of how the guitar should be held. “Several assistants allows the lead teacher to keep class moving while kids get the individual attention they need,” Strand said.

While holiday tunes were popular with the little musicians, they also liked Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” When he chooses music for the first-graders, McConnell said, he tries to pick simple tunes, such as one- or two-chord folk songs.

Nevaeh Hicks, a first-grader at Templeton Elementary School, strums along last week as her class gets a lesson on playing the guitar.

Nevaeh Hicks, a first-grader at Templeton Elementary School, strums along last week as her class gets a lesson on playing the guitar.

According to Strand, plucking at the guitar strings to make music offers a variety of benefits. “They know how to hold an instrument properly and produce a sound,” she said. Although the experience may not cause a particular love of the guitar, integrating the instrument into music class will introduce the children to various types of musical learning. They use small digit technical skills, learn rhythms and chants and how to sing on pitch and perform expressively while reading notation.

It also instills confidence and opens up future possibilities. “At 6, they can say, ‘I know how,’” Strand said.

“It means so much that they can just say they played,” Jankovic said. He hopes the program will expand in the future. “We want to plant a seed that will be taken to other schools,” he said.

Even within Templeton, the program’s scope has grown. This is the third year for the students to play guitar, but it is the first time they’ve been able to access the instrument for the entire year. The increased exposure allows McConnell and the volunteers from IU to track the students’ progress. “Learning to play any instrument takes time,” Strand said. “We are very excited about the success that the kids are experiencing with the guitars!”

© Herald Times 2013


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Brenda Brenner is Quarterfinalist in first-ever Grammy Music Educator award

BrennerCongratulations to Brenda Brenner, Associate Professor of Music (Music Education), who has been chosen as one of 217 music educators around the US to be a quarterfinalist in the first-ever Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. In total, more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The semifinalists for the award will be announced in August.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K – college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. A joint partnership and presentation of The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, the award will have its inaugural presentation at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nominees Reception honoring recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustee Award, Technical GRAMMY® Award during GRAMMY Week 2014.

Click here for more on the Music Educator Award >


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Young Winds commissions work in celebration of Lissa May


Professor May celebrates with Trae Blanco, graduate coordinator of Young Winds

The Department of Music Education recently recognized Professor Lissa May’s leadership of the school’s Young Winds program with a commissioned work “Young Hoosiers March” by Brett Kroening, which was premiered April 20. At the performance, she accepted a gift of a copy of the new piece for her library to a room full of applause in her recognition. May stepped down as coordinator of the program following 12 years of service.

May was recently appointed director of undergraduate studies for the Jacobs School. Recognized for her unending service to music education in Indiana and around the U.S., she was also recently awarded a Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalists Association.

The Jacobs School’s pre-college Young Winds program serves middle school band students from around Monroe County including; Tri-North, Jackson Creek, Batchelor, Brown County, Ellettsville, St. Charles, and Bedford Middle Schools. Students rehearse for two hours each Saturday morning and receive instruction from instrumental music education majors. The community collaboration provides a unique learning experience for area students as they develop as players. The program also gives music education students a real-life teaching experience, prior to student teaching activity in their last year of the program.




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Jacobs School doctoral students present current research at 2012 CIC Music Education Conference

Several IU Jacobs School of Music doctoral students in music education presented their current research at the 2012 CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) Music Education Conference held at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, on October 18.  Student researchers included Natalie Boeyink, Alyssa Hunsucker, Rich McKay, Bridget Rinehimer, and Art Williams.  First-year doctoral student Liz Dinwiddie also attended the conference.

CIC Research Poster Sessions

  • Natalie Boeyink
    Gender, Instrument Choice, and Jazz Improvisation
  • Alyssa Hunsucker
    An Exploratory Investigation of Collaborative Learning in the Elementary Music Classroom using Interactive Whiteboards and Impromptu
  • Richard McKay
    Personality Types and Methods of Instruction of Elementary General Music Teachers in Indiana: A Descriptive Study
  • Bridget Rinehimer
    Teaching Improvisation within the General Music Methods Course: Teacher Experiences, Approaches, and Perspectives
  • Art Williams
    Mister Rogers’ Musical Neighborhood: Fred McFeely Rogers’ Methods of Music Education

Enjoy photos of the exhibitions!

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Patrice Madura co-authors book on Contemporary Music Education

Professor Patrice Madura’s sixth book, Contemporary Music Education, 4th edition, co-authored with Michael Mark, was recently released by Cengage Publishing.

The book explores the theory and practice of teaching music by placing it in the broader context of culture and history. This core text offers music education students a practical and rigorous overview of the profession, covering curriculum development, assessment, and advocacy, while examining the changes brought about by technology, social justice movements, and a half-century of educational reforms.

Click here for more information >


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Patrice Madura appointed national chair for vocal jazz repertoire and standards at ACDA

Professor of Music Education Patrice Madura has been appointed the National Chairperson for Vocal Jazz Repertoire and Standards for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

Click here for more information on the committee >

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International Vocal Ensemble performs at the 13th Annual IU Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society

The International Vocal Ensemble will perform for the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) at Indiana University. The concert: Voices of Central Eurasia, will feature vocal and instrumental music from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, and Uzbekistan with guests Aida Huseynova, Shahyar Daneshgar, Begaim Adilkhanova, Gulrukh Nazarova, and Muparrakh Musaeva. The performance will be on Friday, October 19th, from 6:00 – 6:45 in the Whittenberger Auditorium.

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Tamara Dworetz (B.M. ’12) accepts position with Alpharetta High School as Assitant Band Director

Dworetz will serve the band program by assisting with all thre concert ensembles and the Marching Raiders.

Read More Here

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Music Education graduate students receive professional appointments

Recently, a number of Music Education master’s and doctoral students have received professional appointments in universities and academies around the world. Among them:

Carla Aguilar – Metropolitan State College; Denver, Colo.
Katarzyna Bugaj – Florida State University; Tallahassee, Fla.
Karel Butz – Smith Middle School; Cypress, Texas
Gustavo Cardinal – Artistic Manager, Hafnia Chamber Orchestra; Copenhagen, Denmark
Rebecca Colborg Frederick – The Westminster School; Atlanta, Ga.
Travis Greene – Maryville Jr. High School; Maryville, Tenn.
Beth Hayes – University of New Orleans; New Orleans, La.
J. Michael Kearns - Laurentian University-Georgian College campus; Barrie, Canada
Khin Yee Lo – Griffith University; Brisbane, Australia
Bill Perrine – Concordia University; Ann Arbor, Mich.
Christen Reardon – Education Manager, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Canada
Daniel Sumner – University of Louisiana at Monroe; Louisiana
Kevin Watson – University of Western Ontario; London, Canada


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