Educators nationwide have been collaborating and sharing ideas to meet the challenges facing music education presented by the COVID-19 pandemic – and Derrick Fox, DMA, director of choral activities and associate professor of music within the School of Music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), finds himself leading a major ensemble.
In an age of social distancing and wearing face masks to reduce the transmission and spread of COVID-19, musical activities like raising one’s voice in song or performing a sonata with wind instruments become particularly difficult. What started as a simple social media post about the future of music education during and after a pandemic has transformed into a nationwide effort to keep the music playing.
As Fox saw numerous music educators nationwide posting on social media openly grieving the loss of the end of the previous school year and questioning the future of music education, he became concerned that uncertainty was getting more attention than those seeking solutions.
“If I’m a school administrator focused on the fall and I’m looking at posts by people in the profession saying music education may not be possible, why should I believe any different?” he said.
To encourage positivity Fox created his own post on Facebook, asking which of his friends and colleagues would be interested in finding a way to move music education forward despite the pandemic.
He never could have anticipated the response.
The post received over 200 comments, filled with educators raising their hands and brainstorming ideas. The effort moved to a more structured online home, which Fox coined as the Professional Choral Collective (PCC). Since its inception at the beginning of May, more than 400 people joined the collective and more than 100 ideas or Future Teaching Practices (FTPs) have been shared amongst educators in the collective and abroad.
The PCC led to connections with music educators nationwide. A colleague in Nashville brought the effort to the attention of the CMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the County Music Association (CMA). After meeting with the foundation’s executive director, Fox and the CMA Foundation joined forces to expand the effort.
“The future of music education will look very different as we approach this upcoming school year,” said Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director. “At the CMA Foundation we work to support music teachers from across the country by providing valuable resources that can help advance their careers and classrooms."
This new collaborative effort, known as Unified Voices for Music Education (UVFME), is an expansion of Fox’s Professional Choral Collective. With the support of the CMA foundation, music educators now have an online home to share resources, lesson plans, and creative ideas to continue music education in the upcoming school year.
Fox serves as choral instruction lead, one of six educators leading content areas focused on various aspects of music education. Other leads from across the country lead content areas focused on instruction geared toward all educational levels, band and jazz band, and music technology.
Guided by the mantra, “If it is to be, it’s up to me,” Fox said that a need to move things forward has led to the success of the effort. “This pandemic put everybody into a tailspin, so we had to take the creative lead on how to do our jobs as the science evolves. The Future Teaching Practices in the Professional Choral Collective and the Unified Voices for Music Education allow us to pivot in any direction we need to, based on the ever-evolving science.”
For additional information on United Voices for Music Education, or to get involved, visit the CMA Foundation’s website at https://cmafoundation.org/voicesformusiced/.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.