"The WVMEA Gets A Constitution"

NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
February, 1992

After being part of the State Education Association (SEA) for more than ten years, state music teachers began steps to organize the West Virginia Music Educators Association in 1936. It was an exciting time for the young state organization. The All-State groups had been organized previously, and now their structure had to be changed as problems arose. When the music teachers did break away from the SEA, the WVMEA was formed to meet the changing times.

A question arose as to the size of the All-State groups at a meeting 29 February 1936 in Parkersburg's Chancellor Hotel with Oliver Edwards presiding. A questionnaire was mailed to music teachers to solicit their approval for limiting the groups to 75 members. Later, however, a committee recommended that the All- State Orchestra membership be increased in 105, while the All-State Chorus was to be limited to 150 members. A committee was appointed to screen applicants and to have authority to reject any over the limit. Another committee was to work with the All-State chairs to help select music and directors.

Teachers were informed that if they joined the MENC, the dues would be $4 with $1 being returned to the state. A $2 membership would provide a subscription to the Journal, with $1 being returned to the state.

In 1937 WVMEA officers met to discuss some problems which needed prompt attention. This was a new organization with no traditions. and new programs were being instituted. Correct parliamentary procedure was not always followed as there were no formal guidelines. Other discussion topics included inadequate student housing at conferences and which group should appear first on the All-State Concert--the chorus or orchestra. After discussion it was decided that the orchestra should be first.

Robert Clark, then president of the SEA, informed the VVVMEA officers that there was a lack of knowledge as to who had authority and who gives information to the SEA. He said that much had been done "out of meetings" by a group which had no real authority. Things seemed to be done out of necessity, and he recommended that the officers develop a plan for music education. They decided that a constitution was needed. and a committee was appointed to study the matter after considering a model provided by the Michigan Music Educators plan.

The SEA secretary, Mr. Hickman. suggested that the music teachers take better care of student housing, get programs to the SEA ten days before a meeting, and give better thought to organization. At the Charleston annual meeting in 1938 the new WVMEA constitution was read and approved. Amendments were then read and approved, Even though it was to undergo further revisions in future months, the VNMEA had a constitution!

On 14 January 1939 the Board of Directors voted to "let it be known their desire to become affiliated with the MENC." More about this later...