College Teachers Unite With WVMEA

NOTES DA CAPO - By Clifford Brown
February 1985

Mountaineers have always cherished their independence, and so have the colleges throughout the state. Forty years ago most institutions of higher learning were geographically isolated, responsive to their territorial clientele, and proud enough to adjust to the resources available. Although there were legislated regulations and degree requirements, particularly in teacher certification, there was great variation in how these were interpreted. In music, for instance, two courses might be taught in the same class under different course numbers. Also, the credit hours in applied music were different.

Jackson's Mill, summer 1945, was the site of a State Department of Education conference where a small group of college music teachers casually discussed the status of music in West Virginia colleges. If memory serves me right, those individuals were Marie Boette, West Virginia Wesleyan; P. Ahmed Williams, West Virginia State; Mary B. Price, Fairmont; Miriam Gelvin, Marshall; Bertha Olsen, Glenville; and Clifford Brown, West Virginia University. They soon realized that the instructional programs in music were highly inconsistent, and that the facilities in some colleges were deplorable. They decided that all colleges should be invited to a fall meeting with the objective of initiating some state-wide action to improve the situation.

Twelve institutions were represented at this fall meeting: Fairmont, Potomac State, Wesleyan, West Virginia State, Bluefield, Salem, Alderson-Broaddus, ,Nlarshall, Bethany, Shepherd, Concord, and West Virginia University. Marie Boette of Wesleyan presided, and Bertha Olsen of Glenville served as secretary. A genuine spirit of cooperation prevailed, with each individual realizing that collective action could ultimately benefit all institutions. 'The final conclusions were that STANDARDIZATION and UNIFICATION should be immediate objectives. They scheduled another meeting in October 1946.

The approach to standardization began with the appointment of three study committees: conducting - a clarification of the course content; teaching loads - how they should be calculated; and teacher certification in music - clarification. Further, the group decided to call itself the West Virginia College Music Educators (WVCME). It would meet twice each year, the fourth Monday in October at a college campus and in the spring with the Association of Higher Education.

In 1947 the WVMEA Executive Board officially recognized the WVCME by inviting its chair to membership. Although some college members were reluctant to affiliate with the WVMEA, this was approved and represented a major step in unifying the music teachers into one organization. Since then other groups have affiliated with the WVMEA, resulting in the representation of all phases of music education within one state organization.

Tacet . . . for now.