The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN music program and professor awarded at Cal All-State Music Education Conference

CSUN NAfME officers with their CMEA Collegiate NAfME Chapter Award at the CMEA Awards Gala on Friday February 20th, 2015 (left to right) Eric Cañas, Kelvin Flores, Andres Villanueva, Kelly McCarley, Kelly Brooks, Robin Gin, Aminata Touncara

CSUN’s National Association for Music Education chapter, along with one of their music professors, was recognized for their work in music education at the California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in Fresno between Feb. 19-22.

Hosted by the California Music Educator’s Association, the CASMEC conference awards schools and instructors for their role in music education. This year’s CMEA Collegiate NAfME Chapter Award was given to CSUN’s chapter for their excellence, innovation and growth in promoting music education.

“This particular group of students we have here, for the past few years have just demonstrated exceptional ambition, initiative, creativity and industriousness,” said CSUN music professor, Dr. Lawrence Stoffel. “They’ve seized upon this opportunity these past few years and have turned this organization, which all along was a fine organization, into something truly exceptional, truly remarkable, and the state music teachers organization of CMEA recognizes this.”

The CSUN music education department, according to Stoffel, has always been a strong program within the music department. It was ranked in the top 25 music programs in the nation and is the biggest music department on the West coast.

The CSUN NAfME chapter promotes education in music whether it is at the K-12 level or collegiate level. Part of what the chapter does is help their members have hands-on experience with teaching music by giving them the opportunity to volunteer in music programs in the K-12 level.

The chapter members volunteer at a number of schools, including Calahan Street Elementary School in Northridge where they are able to provide instruction for the beginning students. The volunteers also provide additional instruction beyond the full-time teacher if the student is struggling.

The program is overseen by the Head of Music Education at CSUN, Mary Schliff.

“Schliff makes sure that a lot of us get the hands-on experience to teach, that way when we actually get paid to teach we’re not going there blindly,” said music education major and NAfME chapter member, Robin Gin.

According to Gin, the work the organization has done in promoting music education was a factor that won them the award.

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CSUN Professor Larry Stoffel leading a clinic entitled “Music in the Urban Setting: Success Stories – Music Curriculum and Instruction in the Urban School.” (left to right): Justin Milota of Bakersfield City School District, Julie West and Robert Eisenhart of Los Angeles Unified School District, Dr. Larry Stoffel of CSUN.

Not only was the CSUN NAfME chapter awarded for their excellence, but CSUN’s Director of Jazz Studies, Gary Pratt, was given the Jazz Educator Award.

Pratt has had a long career in not only education, but he has performed and recorded with many jazz artists including Louie Bellson, Blue Mitchell and Sandra Booker.

President of CMEA Michael Stone, presented Pratt the award and stated in his speech that Pratt’s distinguished career as a music educator, performer, conductor and arranger, among other things, has won him the award.

According to Stoffel and Gin, Pratt is not only known throughout the state but throughout the country.

Stone also acknowledged Pratt’s versatility as a music educator, which has made him a highly sought after clinician and guest director.

“This is an award that is long overdue. He’s an incredible musician, highly effective teacher and he’s not just a jazz musician,” said Stoffel. “Because of his life long accomplishments as a jazz musician and jazz professor he has been recognized by his peers for being the best of the best.”

The CASMEC conference was not just about the awards. The conference gave the students and teachers who attended the opportunity to learn new methods and ideas of teaching, from the number of sessions given.

One session was given by Stoffel, who moderated the panel discussion, about the challenges that teachers face, teaching music in urban school districts.

Those who attended his session were able to learn new strategies and ideas about teaching in urban settings from music educators working in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Not only were attendees able to learn from experienced educators, but they were able to learn from each other.

Gin said the conference was made up of not just students but full-time music educators. This set up a perfect environment for first-time instructors to learn from those who have been teaching for years and vice versa.

The conference was a way to help the CSUN students who want to further their knowledge about music education and to help better themselves in their career.

As for the awards given to the CSUN NAfME chapter and to Pratt, they represent the hard work of the music department and the continuing excellence of the staff.

“These aren’t things that we use to capitalize. These are recognition for the great work the students have done and for the life achievements Gary Pratt has made over the course of his career,” said Stoffel.

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