MENC: Total music educators
By Kasey Carty-Campbell
MENC isn’t just for music educators anymore.
KSU MENC leaders (front to back) Jessi Hicks, Leigh Sumruld, Amanda Newton, Rachel MErcer and Chelsea Estes
Although the name of the National Association for Music Education doesn’t correlate with its well-known MENC acronym, the organization has been fine-tuning its mission and identity for more than 100 years. Formerly known as Music Educators National Conference (hence, MENC), the group was formed in 1907 to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music. Formed at Kennesaw State in 1999, the KSU chapter has seen its average yearly membership of 20 to 30 students grow to more than 75 members this year.
Amanda Newton, music education major and president of MENC, has witnessed the dramatic increase of students this year, including involvement by students majoring in music performance and musical theatre. “We have really tried to get music majors from all disciplines involved this year,” she says. “There is a better energy in the School of Music as a whole as MENC provides a music organization that brings students together in a family environment.”
Events such as the recent fall picnic have been drawing more than 100 students this semester and the organization expects to see the same at the upcoming Halloween party, performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the winter party. Students also attend monthly meetings where guests speak to the group about their experiences in music education and performance.
The highlight of the year continues to be the MENC state conference in Savannah. Students are able to attend the three-day conference free of charge, attending workshops, listening to top performers from across the state and performing for conference attendees.
Musical theatre major Jenn Mack enjoys the opportunity to attend this event. “The state conference in Savannah has given me the opportunity to learn about teaching voice lessons in what I believe to be the best way possible,” she says. “Even non-music education majors can enjoy the sense of community that the organization brings and provides a place for those who share a passion for music,” she says.
Barbara Hammond, KSU program coordinator of music education and advisor of MENC, believes that as musicians enter their professions, they will all be asked to be teachers, whether through church work, private lessons or the teaching of workshops. “There is a greater excitement about the teaching profession as a whole. People used to view teaching as something to fall back on, but now musicians are realizing that the teaching of music requires a passion for the art of music and for sharing that passion with others,” she says.
MENC provides an environment for KSU music students to form a community and make friends with people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. “Music itself is a social subject,” says Hammond. “MENC goes beyond the traditional lines of music education, helping students to be total music educators beyond their areas of expertise.”