Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

The Chattanooga Symposium on the History of Music Education, June 2-4, 2011

Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

The Chattanooga Symposium on the History of Music Education, June 2-4, 2011

Article excerpt


At the Anaheim Music Educators National Conference (MENC) meeting in April 2010, several History Special Research Interest Group (HSRIG) members met informally and convivially to enjoy the professional camaraderie that has developed among HSRIG members over three decades. These members included Patrick Jones, William Lee, Jere Humphreys, Alan Spurgeon, Marie McCarthy, Sondra Howe, Carolyn Livingston, and others. Ideas were floated--half seriously-about planning another history symposium patterned on Keokuk II: The MENC Centennial History Symposium, which had been organized successfully by Jere Humphreys and Alan Spurgeon in 2007. Among the several proposed sites, Chattanooga, Tennesseee, came to be seen as ideal due to its well-developed Tourist acilities, reasonable cost, significant historical sites, and accessibility.

William Lee: I knew that Chattanooga would be a good place to meet, but I felt it was not the moment for me or my university, so I demurred. A couple weeks after Anaheim, I thought differently about it. I contacted Jere andAlan and told them I would do it if they would help me based on their Keokuk II work. They agreed to help. If my memory serves me well, my comment was: "Just don't let me blow this."

Jere Humphreys: As a Tennessean I was well aware of some of the significant advantages of the Chattanooga site. Moreover, Alan Spurgeon and I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bill Lee would do a stupendous job as conference chair.

Alan Spurgeon: I enjoyed the Keokuk conference and felt that it was time to plan another, so I was pleased when we started discussing the topic in Anaheim. When we toyed with the idea of Chattanooga and Bill Lee seemed interested in coordinating it, I knew that this could turn out to be something quite remarkable.

Once the decision was made to proceed, Patrick Jones, national chair of the HSRIG, appointed William Lee as symposium chair. Lee, Humphreys, and Spurgeon then identified a date. Humphreys agreed to administer the review panel and program and to assist generally. Spurgeon would serve as assistant chair for the symposium and eventually wrestled with the scheduling, among other duties. Lee surveyed facilities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and in downtown Chattanooga, and decided the symposium would best be held at the historic Chattanooga ChooChoo, a hotel and former railroad station now on the National Register of Historic Places. In the end both Spurgeon and Humphreys assisted Lee in on-site management during the symposium as well.

William Lee: I visited the facility one year in advance of the date we intended to use it. I was concerned about the weather, especially the heat, so I walked the facility in June, ate the food, and sat in the rooms to get some sense of things. I rode public transportation and checked out costs for a riverboat dinner we hoped to host. Everything seemed good.

Jere Humphreys: Bill's advance work came to typify all the planning for the Chattanooga symposium. It included out-of-the-box thinking and detailoriented follow-through, and gave us opportunities to anticipate problems that might arise.

Alan Spurgeon: Without Bill's advance work the conference would not have been nearly as successful. He knew what the community had to offer and gave us the best of it.

Beginning in May 2010, a full year in advance, the trio began to organize a planning committee, advisory commitee, public relations committee, and the review panel. Suggestions from HSRIG members were considered, and the symposium announcement began to appear in various academic journals and web sources in early May. UTC department chair Lee Harris pledged staff help and financial support for the audiovisual equipment and printing and granted some summer load release time for Lee.

In addition to the UTC, MENC, through its Society for Research in Music Education, also agreed to cosponsor the symposium. …

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