by Wildcat Staff

LC Music Department granted membership to NASM

In an effort that was years in the making, the Louisiana College Department of Music learned July 3 that the LC has been granted membership into the prestigious National Association of Schools of Music.

As an accrediting organization, NASM has more than 600 members, and its acceptance of Louisiana College into that membership came after a review of both the college and music department that culminated in a final report filed by LC in May.

“I was elated,” Dr. Fred Guilbert, Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Media said after hearing the news. ”There was just a ton of effort that went into it. “

According to Dr. Gabriel Miller, Department of Music Coordinator, the process to apply for NASM membership and accreditation started five years ago. LC had been a member previously, but let that membership lapse when the number of music majors had dwindled.

But, with a recent upturn in music majors – currently more than 40 in the program – LC sought to regain accreditation from NASM as a way to not only validate the effectiveness of its program, but also to ensure that current curriculum offerings would be up to standard moving forward.

Under the initial leadership of Dr. Loryn Frey and then in the last two years under Miller, LC had to clear a number of hurdles for that to happen. Those hurdles included an on-site visit by a committee of member schools more than two years ago, the issuing of a report by that committee that identified seven areas in which LC was lacking, and finally the systematic response to those seven areas by the college.

That response took place over the last two years after LC had asked for a deferment in order to make sure all areas of requirement were properly addressed. In fact, in its July 3 Commission Action Report, NASM commended LC for the decision to defer as well as for its strategic planning during the entire process.

“It’s not easy to be reaffirmed after you let it lapse because the stipulations and requirements are much more strenuous than they were when you first got in,” Guilbert said.

Now that LC is in NASM once again, here are some of the things it will mean for LC and its music students.

First, there has been a tweaking of degree programs and offerings within the Music Department to meet NASM standards. In short, accreditation assures that what a degree is offered as, it will actually be both in form and substance. For LC, that translates into two degrees – one in liberal arts, the Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA) and the other in a professional track, the Bachelor of Music in Music Education (BM).

“They don’t tell you, ‘this is the way it has to be,’ but it’s a framework,” Miller said. “We build the courses following their standards, but there is flexibility for us.”

“What it’s done is that it’s made us more career-minded rather than just giving someone a degree,” Guilbert added. “The old church music program was a music degree with a couple of added church music courses. Now, the worship leadership program that we designed through this effort for NASM is designed to create information that will help that student go out into that church and actually be a worship leader in that church.”

Second, the NASM membership means that LC’s Music Department has much broader access to current trends and teachings within its field. Data sharing in areas such as curriculum and budgeting will help LC continue to shape its program, and professional opportunities such as the annual NASM Conference each November will provide LC faculty networking opportunities to learn from what is working at other schools.

“You get to be around other music administrators and get to ask them questions or hear them speak about what works for them,” Miller said. “That’s invaluable.”

And finally, the NASM membership will continue to lend credibility to a music program that has seen steady growth in recent years. Now that LC has gained accreditation for its music program, it will also have to work to keep it. The department will continue to file progress reports and undergo another full review in the 2018-19 academic year. All that, Miller said, validates and gives credibility to what the music faculty have been doing in their classrooms all along.

“What we do in 2013-14 will not be very much different at all from what we did in 2012-13,” he said. “It does not mean that we are all of a sudden better. It just simply validates that what we have been doing and continue to do and grow in are at standard.”

“It keeps us accountable to be better at what we do, and to do those things well,” Guilbert said. “We now have to maintain those criteria to give (students) the best education we can give them.”