Student Advisory Council

snodgrass jennifertrantham_geneJennifer Snodgrass, Appalachian State University, and 
Gene Trantham, Bowling Green State University

Co-Chairs, CMS Student Advisory Council


The Student Advisory Council (SAC) has been extremely active in 2013, continuing to focus on the needs of both undergraduate and graduate students. Three initiatives have emerged as priorities for members of the SAC:

  1. Provide support for institutions interested in starting a CMS student chapter

  2. Maintain a high level of visibility at the national meeting in terms of student presentations and forums

  3. Better understand the needs of the society’s student membership in terms of professional development and interests

 2013 National Meeting, Cambridge

huntleigh gerrityStudent Advisory Board Members Amanda Huntleigh and Kevin GerrityThe 2013 national conference provided an excellent opportunity for the SAC to reach out to student members.  Many student attendees at the meeting were there for the first time, and the SAC maintained a constant effort to include these students in discussion and activities.  In consultation with the national office, several internships were offered to student members.  Registration waivers were given to all student chapter presidents and student volunteers (registration desk, concert assistance, logistics).


Four sessions, specifically geared towards student membership, were offered at the national meeting:  

1.  The Future of the Society: A National Perspective on CMS Student Chapters 


2013 sacStudent Chapter Presidents and Advisors include Front Row: Gene Trantham, Jena Root, Suzanne Burton, John Leupold, Amanda Huntleigh, and Back Row: Drew Griffin, DJ Colella, Peter Learn, Jennifer SnodgrassThis panel, comprised of student chapter presidents from six universities, discussed the benefits of a student chapter and how the society can continue to support the creation of student chapters. This panel was well attended and based upon this session, several universities are now interested in starting new collegiate chapters, including Northern Virginia Community College, University of North Carolina Greensboro, and University of Tennessee.

2.  Lightning Answers to Burning Questions Round 2: The Student and Faculty Perspective 

The Student Advisory Council provided this second round of “lightning answers” in order to explore both student and faculty perspectives on the following questions:

1. How much, if any, teaching experience ought a music educator obtain after completing undergraduate studies before pursuing graduate studies?

2. What has your experience been with online music classes. What has worked, what hasn’t worked? What are some effective strategies for getting the most out of an online class? How might one build an effective online class?

3. What are some effective ways to juggle teaching, studying, and other responsibilities?

This session was extremely well attended and although the time was short, participants were able to give a quick overview on the topics above.  Many students commented that this was by far the most compelling and valuable session.  Graduate student Trevor Nelson (Michigan State University) stated,

Lightning Answers to Burning Questions Round 2 was one of the best sessions at the conference.  It was so great to hear professionals of all fields, as well as a diverse group of graduate students, discuss how they grapple with issues that I face every day in my own education.  Hearing other's strategies has helped with my own personal coping with the stresses of graduate study.

3. CMS Student Luncheon 

student luncheonCMS Student Members at Student LuncheonOver 20 students, along with four faculty members, attended this informal lunch held in the food court of the MIT campus. The conversation between students was focused on various programs of study, graduate school, teaching opportunities, and job applications. Students were able to connect with each other at this event and network more easily with each other for the remainder of the conference. For future meetings, we would propose to hold the student luncheon on Thursday and have the luncheon venue to be in the hotel or as close as possible. Some students were unable to attend due to presentation schedules. The 20 minute travel time to the venue will need to be shortened for more students to attend.


4. Research Presentations by Students and Recent Graduates 

research presResearch Presentations by Students and Recent Graduates. Pictured are Alex Alberti, Midori Keneko Larsen, Mirna Lekic, Mark Tonelli, Cole HarrisonThe program committee agreed to continue the student research presentation sessions for the 2013 meeting. Student proposal submissions not accepted initially by the program committee were selected for presentation in this special session. Over the course of several months before the conference, faculty members from the SAC were grouped with student presenters to work on both the abstract and paper presentation. The students were then asked to present a twelve minute “mini-presentation” of their work at the national conference. The SAC made a strong effort to pair students and mentors several months before the conference. This mentoring proved to be very successful, and students and audience members were given the opportunity to provide feedback. Graduate student Mark Tonelli (Teachers College, Columbia University) sent the following message to members of the Student Advisory Council,

It was a tremendous opportunity to present my research and receive valuable feedback about it. I am also truly grateful for the incredible mentoring I received from Kevin Gerrity and Cathy Benedict. What a fantastic program to pair students with world-class mentors!

It was apparent to all in attendance that The College Music Society is making a huge impact on the professional development of students. Perhaps first time student attendees Mirna Lekic, Alex Alberti, Mark Tonelli said it best in their responses,

I was thrilled to be a part of this conference. I especially enjoyed the lightning talks, concerts and the many teaching presentations, which were refreshing and useful. I am also grateful to have had the chance to share my research. Many thanks for the opportunity!

CMS was an incredible experience….as an undergraduate students, it was a fantastic way to become integrated into Higher Education and to network with experienced and inspiring faculty members from across the country.

I enjoyed attending many different and interesting conference sessions in a collegial atmosphere. The breadth and depth of inquiry and activity relating to music in higher education was remarkable. I consider myself fortunate to have been part of it and feel that the future of college music education is indeed in good hands. This was my first CMS event. I left feeling encouraged and energized. I look forward to staying involved with CMS and working with you again soon!


Student Chapters

One of the important initiatives of the society is the development of student CMS chapters. Information about student chapters was the focus of several conversations, including those in the student forum and the student lunch.

As of December 2013, several universities have established or are in the process of establishing student chapters.

Established CMS Student Chapter:

  • Appalachian State University
  • State University of Potsdam
  • University of Delaware
  • Washington College
  • University of Washington
  • University of Colorado

In the process of forming a CMS Student Chapter:

  •  University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Brenden McConville
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Greg Carroll, faculty contact)
  • Longwood University, Chris Swanson, faculty contact
  • Northern Virginia Community College, John Kocur, faculty contact

Annual Meeting of the Student Advisory Council

At the SAC meeting in Cambridge, both faculty and student members provided feedback on a proposal for the 2014 meeting. One theme that continued to emerge highlights the need for development and mentoring in terms of transitional moments in ones academic and professional life.  Based upon this discussion, the following proposal was sent to the program committee for consideration:

For several years, the Student Advisory Council has collected a list of requests and concerns from CMS student members.  One theme that continues to emerge is how one efficiently moves from one stage to the next in our individual educational and professional experiences.  Several undergraduate institutions have special programs to aid students as they progress from one educational level to another (e.g., transitioning from high school into your first of college or what to expect after graduation).  However, how often do we share our own thoughts regarding our own experiences with educational and professional shifts?  

This panel will address the triumphs and pitfalls that can occur during various transitional stages common to many future college music instructors.  Transitional topics would include items such as moving from:

1. Undergraduate studies to graduate studies

2. Graduate studies to doctoral studies or public/private teaching

3. Doctoral studies to adjunct (e.g., one-year) faculty positions

4. Adjunct to tenure-track faculty

Paired presenters will consider both the student and the faculty perspective regarding these different levels of change and professional development.  It is hoped that this discussion might help the Society explore new ways of thinking about mentoring younger members beyond job placement. 

Immediately following the panel session, we would like to continue the discussion during a student forum.

In another discussion, it was also suggested that the program committee consider a separate call for the Student Presentation Session so that students can submit proposals specifically for mentoring.  This call can be posted after the final notifications are sent from the original call for papers. We would like to see this proposal put forth to the board and program committee as we believe it would be an exciting experience for those students seeking a mentoring experience.  

We are appreciative of Francesca Arnone, chair of the Committee on Academic Careers, for attending our SAC meeting and promoting continuous communication between the Student Advisory Council and the Committee on Academic Careers .

It is the continued desire for the SAC to help provide answers to our student members, and we continue to ask our student members what questions CMS should address for them.  As we strive to develop student chapters and provide valuable professional development to our student members, the SAC will continue to expand its offerings to our valuable student members.