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OCMEA Update

Collegiate Mentorship at its Best

Benjamin Low
OCMEA President
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of mentorship. Whether it’s a coach giving their team a pep talk before the big game, an academic advisor helping you pick classes for next semester, or an ensemble director going over final reminders about intonation before an end-of-year concert, we have to rely on the experience and knowledge of those around us to fully embrace whatever it is that we’re good at. Music education is no different. This year, OCMEA had multiple opportunities for mentorship as we continue on the path to becoming music educators.
In October, we held our Fall Conference at Capital University. College music students from 10 different colleges and universities across the state came together for presentations from four amazing music educators (and lunch, of course!). OMEA President-Elect Brian Stevens gave advice for new teachers, like rely on those around you for support, be an effective leader who earns the trust and respect of the students, and give yourself grace as you begin a new chapter in your teaching career. We heard from OMEA-President Dan Ruckman about the difficult situations and challenges that arise in the music classroom and best practices for dealing with them without losing the motivation and inspiration to keep going. Aaron Gilbert, music teacher at Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, presented on music technology and trauma-informed learning, showcasing the work of his students as examples of how their pasts can be a framework for growth and learning. Finally, Dr. Jeff Gershman, Professor of Music and Director of Bands at the College of Wooster, walked us through his step-by-step score study and rehearsal preparation processes. (Many thanks to the OCMEA State Board and Wendi Bechtol-Davis for organizing this event, Capital University for hosting us, and all of our guest speakers for imparting their wisdom!)
We also had opportunities for mentorship at the Professional Development Conference in February! At the OCMEA Block Party, we had the pleasure of hearing from Scott Lang, who encouraged us to persevere as music educators in a world that seems to leave less and less room for music in our schools. By finding the harmony, balance, and blend in our future classrooms, he assured us that music can be powerful enough to change the world.
At our OCMEA All-Chapter Meeting, we had the opportunity to connect with other OCMEA chapters and share ideas and experiences. Through a wide variety of events including everything from parody recitals and mock rehearsals to chili cook-offs and dodgeball tournaments, music education majors across the state are dedicated to building and maintaining connections with their college and local communities.
The main takeaway from this year: Music brings people together in ways that are hard to understand. Coming together to share inspiration, knowledge, and experiences is one of the most important pieces to the education puzzle. As we finish out this year and begin a new one, we hope to see more and more mentorship across all levels of music education.

Benjamin Low is a rising junior at The College of Wooster, majoring in Music Education. Originally from Yorktown Heights, NY, he enjoys hiking, reading, and playing piano. He works as a choral accompanist for local school districts, serves as President of Wooster’s OCMEA chapter, and is excited to serve as President of the OCMEA State Board for the 2024-25 academic year.