COLL: ­Why are LGBTQ+ Students Drawn to the Music Classroom?

Oftentimes in the modern school system we see efforts to “include everyone”. Yet many state governments and school administrators simultaneously preach the suppression of certain minorities. Most often these minorities are LGBTQ+ students, and even faculty, that do not receive the proper inclusion in the general education system. While schools push for students to succeed in STEM subjects, many of these minority students instead turn to the arts to find a place of solace from the pressures of daily academic life. A place where they can be themselves. Inclusion is a large part of students’ enjoyment of arts programs, specifically in music. McBride says, “For many LGBTQ students and teachers, music classrooms are still one of the most accepting and safe spaces in… schools today.” (2016).

The Music Educator plays a crucial role in the LGBTQ+ students’ feeling of acceptance and presence in the classroom. If the Educator is unwelcoming and intolerant toward the minority students, the rest of the class will perceive this hostility and react in some way. Music Educators must understand the importance of their role and the influence they have on their students. Each of their students will form a bond with music that is their own, helping the student on their journey through life as they discover how to express themselves to others successfully. It is the task of the Music Educator to provide a haven for this discovery to take place.

Why is it that the music classroom seems to be so pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community’s sense of belonging? Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Garret, says that like any student, “LGBTQ students want to belong. They want positive reinforcement from teachers that they are okay. Music educators can provide this type of positive support in a number of ways, many of which focus on inclusion.” (2012).

Inclusion in the music classroom is essential in all aspects and stages of the students’ lives. “Music educators provide students with opportunities to create, perform, and reflect as individuals and as members of a group. Establishing a positive and inclusive learning environment is essential to maximizing student potential” (Garret, 2012). In elementary music children learn songs together: singing together, playing together, and learning instruments together as a group. As band and choir students age, they see the same inclusiveness arise in working together for a common goal— the next concert or competition. The students find it easy to belong to a group of people who all share a deep passion for similar things. At the same time, these students also desire a place where they can be an individual.

In the modern age, LGBTQ+ students find it hard to cope with the day to day struggles they face. Roughly 90% of LGBTQ+ high school students report being verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation, 60% feel unsafe on a regular basis, nearly half experience physical harassment or assault, and almost 2/3 hear homophobic remarks from school personnel. (Bergonzi, 2009). The very people charged with protecting students are helping to put LGBTQ+ students in dangerous emotional and physical states. The music classroom has the potential to protect its students from these dangers, and it all begins with the efforts of the Music Educator.

The first step to making a classroom safe for any minority is to be aware of your own personal bias(es) and be willing to accept any student that comes your way. The educator must be open and provide a welcoming classroom environment, so no student feels rejected or unwanted. Bergonzi describes this fine line: “Rather than well-intended sympathy, empathy from and supportive alliances with straight teachers, staff, and students are needed.” This means instead of simply feeling bad for the LGBTQ+ community, you are trying to truly understand their predicament and what you can do to help. It is not the students’ fault they may feel unsafe, but perhaps the fact that they truly are not safe in their day to day environment. Once the educator understands this, they can create a safer space for their students and provide an example to the future educators in the room and to other classrooms in the county and even the state. Garret mentions that the societal norm that prohibits many teachers from realizing their classroom is not as inclusive as it could be is easily overcome through communication: “Personal bias is frequently identified as an obstacle to inclusion of LGBTQ students, whether based on religious beliefs or on other value systems…society views heterosexuality as the standard and all others as deviations.” (Garret, 2012). Conversations with local LGBTQ+ organizations, support groups, and even just local families is one of the first steps an educator can take to bring awareness to the classroom. LGBTQ+ students want to learn and be involved in music just as desperately as heterosexual students. Therefore, it is important to “advertise” your program correctly to the entire community of students. For example, using sports and other “manly” things to bring people through your choir’s doors is a strategy that leaves out a good percentage of young men who do not resonate with sports or “manly” things. McBride mentions an advertisement he saw that read, “REAL MEN SING”. A seemingly attractive idea, but not one that will appeal to all young men. If a student desires to sing and truly has a hunger for music, that pupil should be your target— and they may not follow the conventional “masculinity” stereotype. Instead of a stereotype, advertise your group to the young musicians out there who simply want to make music.

It is amazing that music can provide a safe place for LGBTQ+ students when schools have not yet stepped up to the plate. The culture of the music classroom determines the future of the program, so it is important to keep it inclusive and open but to not change oneself in the process of creating the classroom culture. For example, an LGBTQ+ teacher would not benefit from imitating a gender stereotype (heterosexual Male/Female) in the classroom. In contrast, a person of religion does not need to “convert” to anything new to create a safe classroom, nor does a straight person need to strive to hide their sexuality. These are simply examples of personal bias that the educator should be aware of. Curriculum across schools is improving with inclusivity of LGBTQ+ influencers being mentioned throughout history. In music, Bergonzi suggests we improve how we represent music history by speaking more broadly of music. This can be done by mentioning other cultures, women in music, and the immense influence LGBTQ+ composers and performers have had on western music for decades. (2009).

Students should not feel as though they are a thing that does not belong in society and has not existed until now. As Bergonzi (2009) says, “Sexual orientation in music education is not a new phenomenon.” LGBTQ+ students have the opportunity to discover music and what it means to them in their own lives through the music classroom. Music educators are the crucial piece of the safe space puzzle, providing the tools, support, and acknowledgment students need to succeed. The role and influence of music educators in the lives of LGBTQ+ students is an essential first step to those same students going out into the world and discovering what being LGBTQ+ means to them and how they can share their story with the world, creating an endless cycle of love and support for future students.

Works Cited

Bergonzi, Louis. “Sexual Orientation and Music Education: Continuing a Tradition.” Music Educators Journal, December 2009, pp. 21-25.

Garrett, Mathew L. “The LGBTQ Component of 21st-Century Music Teacher Training: Strategies for Inclusion From the Research Literature.” Applications of Research in Music Education, November 2012, pp. 55-62.

Lehmann, Andreas, Woody, Robert, and Sloboda, John A. (2007). Psychology for Musicians: Understanding and Acquiring the Skills. New York: Oxford University Press.

McBride, Nicholas R. “Singing, Sissies, and Sexual Identity.” Music Educators Journal, June 2016, pp. 36-40.

COLL: ­Collegiate Conference News

The 2018 AMEA Professional Development Conference was a great success for the Collegiate Division. The conference kicked off with the first-ever Collegiate Orientation for the conference on Thursday, and it served as a gateway for pre-professional music educators to make the most of their conference. Guest speakers – including AMEA President Susan Smith, Collegiate Secretary Tyler Jones, first year teacher Savannah Smith, and second year teacher Stacy Daniels – discussed how the conference is the perfect opportunity for collegiate members to build their professional network with their peers, veteran educators, and individuals in the music industry; to gain new ideas, strategies, and resources on music education from phenomenal presenters and clinicians; and to get out of their comfort zone and experience professional growth outside of the classroom. The orientation was very beneficial and we hope for it to be successful and useful for years to come.

Collegiates benefited from numerous sessions on topics ranging from edTPA to how to interview for your first teaching job. The Collegiate Division/Higher Education Division mixer was held on Thursday night and helped strengthen the organic partnership between these two divisions and allowed teacher and students to engage outside of the classroom. The collegiate luncheon was held on Friday. We had representation from 14 collegiate chapters from across the state. We had a successful lunch and business meeting, where we began planning a state Hill Day where we can lobby for music education on the state level.

We held successful elections and the four Executive Board members from 2017 rolled off after a year of service (Madison Baldwin, President, Jacksonville State University; Tyler Jones, Secretary, University of Montevallo; Brenton Nash, Treasurer, University of Alabama) and Jordan Banks, VP/President-Elect, assumed the office of President.

The new Collegiate Executive Board for the 2018-2019 year is as follows:

  • President: Jordan Banks, University of Montevallo
  • VP/President-Elect: DeLee Benton, University of Montevallo
  • Secretary: Kylee Berggren, Samford University
  • Treasurer: DeShawn Sewer, Alabama A&M University

Written by:

Jordan Hare Banks and Tyler Jones

COLL: ­Fantastic Year, Collegiates!

Josh Meyer

The AMEA Conference is now behind us and I want to thank all of you for a fantastic year. We’ve set record attendance at the annual Collegiate Summit as well as the AMEA conference. Additionally, we’ve added two new collegiate chapters and more are in the process of being engaged. It has been an honor to serve an organization that is so eager to grow.

With that being said, the board has compiled data on the demographics of our participating collegiate members.  What we’ve found is a great enthusiasm among freshman, juniors, and seniors, but a lack of attendance among sophomores. It seems that sometime after the first year, music education majors become somewhat disenchanted and dismayed by the workload that comes with our profession.

As we move forward as Alabama’s pre-service music educators, I encourage you to help your colleagues through their first year of college. Between music theory, history, and the discovery that practice is no longer just a fun hobby, the path to becoming a music teacher can seem long and arduous. Be a helping hand to those who are struggling; offer the best advice you have but also follow with action. Chapter presidents, look for ways to keep newcomers engaged throughout the year, even after the conference and honor band season has passed.  Music is a “we, not me” activity, and those of us who are nearing the end of our degree programs should be shining examples of that.

As a parting word, I would like to wish all of you the best as you become teaching professionals. It has been an honor to serve as your division president and I greatly look forward to seeing all of you in the future.


Joshua Meyer

AMEA Collegiate Division President

(256) 566-1265

The results of the Collegiate-AMEA elections held during the Collegiate luncheon were as follows:

  • Madison Baldwin, President – JSU
  • Jordan Hare, VP/President-Elect Montevallo –
  • Tyler Jones, Secretary – Montevallo
  • Brenton Nash, Treasurer – Alabama

COLL: ­2017 AMEA Professional Development Conference Highlights for Collegiates

Josh MeyerClinics chosen especially for the Collegiate Division

  • Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle: Resources and Ideas for Pronunciation, Comprehension, and Memorization of Sung Texts ­ Tiffany Bostic Brown and Ian Loeppky, Clinicians
  • The ‘Few Good Men’ in a Choir of Women: How to Employ Quality Repertoire and Teaching Strategies ­ Greg Lefils, Clinician
  • Learning from the Great Maestros: Five Principles We Can Apply to our Daily Conducting ­ Blake Richardson, Clinician
  • Developing Part­Singing Skills in School­Age Musicians ­ Georgia Newlin, Clinician
  • Copyright ­ Barry Morgan, Clinician
  • Communication with Parents ­ Anne Witt, Clinician
  • Congratulations! You Got Hired! Now, Don’t Get Fired ­ Lisa Gillespie, Clinician
  • Get Organized!: Time Management for Music Educators ­ Frank Buck, Clinician
  • Woodwind Repair: I Can Do All THAT By Myself? ­ Dave Lawson, Clinician
  • The Developmental Years of a Band Director ­ What I Needed to Know but Didn’t. ­ Russ Thompson, Clinician
  • Plus 49 other clinic sessions of interest to music educators and future music educators


  • Alabama Intercollegiate Band
  • The Huxford Symphony Orchestra
  • Alabama All­State Show Choir
  • Alabama All­State Jazz Bands
  • 22 Invited Performing Groups (bands, choirs, percussion ensembles, jazz bands) representing Elementary, Middle School, High
    School and College

Special Events and other Conference Highlights

  • Collegiate Luncheon
  • Collegiate/HED Mixer
  • Keynote Speaker: Scott Lang
  • Conference Exhibits Networking

Joshua Meyer
AMEA Collegiate Division President
(256) 566-1265

COLL: Welcome back to another exciting school year!

Josh Meyer­Greetings Collegiate Members,

Welcome back to another exciting school year! I hope your summer has proved to be a great time of rest and relaxation for all that lies ahead. Before the stress of methods classes, practice logs, and music history hit us full force, I would like to provide you with a small bit of encouragement. We are not just studying to be music educators. We are training to become life changers, culture creators, and superheroes in our own right. Like the teachers who inspired us through music, I firmly believe that each and everyone of you will make an amazing positive impact on the world.

Our largest and most important event this year is the collegiate summit on October 9th. It will be hosted at the University of Alabama in the newly renovated Ferguson Center, and will be catered by one of Tuscaloosa’s local barbecue establishments. In addition to accomplished guest speakers, the board is putting together a panel of recent graduates to answer any and all questions we as aspiring music educators have. It will be a great opportunity to not only learn how to best prepare for the teaching field, but also to network and make viable connections to those already there. It is an event you definitely do not want to miss!

Lastly, if you have not already, now is a great time to renew your NAfME membership. Doing so will keep you in the loop with all music education developments and professional opportunities.

The Board is putting all of our creative energy into making this an amazing year for the collegiate division, and I’m very excited to be a part of it. If you have any questions
commentsor concerns please feel free to contact me at any time!


Joshua Meyer
AMEA Collegiate Division President
(256) 566-1265

Inaugural address to NAfME Collegiate Members

Josh MeyerGreetings Collegiate Members,

Summer break is upon us! I am sure you are all continuing your musical improvement while catching up on some much needed rest and relaxation. However, as we are enjoying our time off, I would like to quickly inform you of the exciting developments that are occurring within the Collegiate Division.

The first development you should be aware of is the induction of our new state officers! I will be succeeding Thad Walker as he takes on the role of Past-President, and Madison Baldwin will be moving from Treasurer to Vice President-Elect. New to the board are Brenton Nash and Latrice Green who will be serving as Secretary and Treasurer respectively.

Secondly, the board is currently in the process of recruiting additional higher education institutions to join NAfME. Glenn Nierman, NAfME’s National President and Board Chair, has put forth the objective of 100% participation of accredited institutions offering music education degrees. We intend to meet this goal and have already begun contacting some of the previously uninvolved schools throughout the state.

For those already involved with Collegiate NAfME, mark your calendars! I’m excited to announce that this year’s Collegiate Fall Summit will be held on October 9th in Tuscaloosa. It is going to be an amazing professional development event that will give everyone the chance to both grow as a pre-service educator and make valuable connections across the state.

Lastly, I would like to remind everyone that NAfME memberships expire in June. Be sure to renew as soon as possible so that you are ready to go when the semester starts back up!

I’m very excited to serve you as President and I look forward to the further growth and development of the Collegiate Division.

Joshua Meyer AMEA Collegiate Division President