Start a Student ACDA Chapter!

This year, The Star of The North featured two student ACDA Chapters from local colleges. The leadership of each had the opportunity to describe the scope and focus of their work this year which, from my perspective as a current faculty advisor, was just a glimpse of vital programming that comprised such fullness and thoughtful variety. As we plan for the 2022-2023 school year with a heavy focus on the revitalization of our programs, renewal among our students, and recovery for ourselves, I want to take the opportunity to write to those of you who have considered starting a student ACDA chapter or perhaps those of you who hope to breathe new life into your current student chapter. Student chapter leaders and advisors from across the country came together last year in a conversation hosted by David Edmonds to discuss the challenges and successes of their respective programs. In some cases, as you might expect, the size of the choral program as well as the size and makeup of the music major cohort had implications for the vitality of the student ACDA chapter but, in many cases, the ideas that were offered in the conversation could serve groups of any size and provided options for varying levels of commitment.

First, if you wish to officially start your own student ACDA chapter, simply visit the ACDA website via the following link and read about where to begin:

Students should be members of ACDA to participate, and it is important to program your year so that students can attend the conferences and events that are available to them. Outside of attending statewide and national ACDA events, ideas you might consider include:

Hold monthly meetings

Your student leadership board should meet to determine activities, events, and conversations that will take place during student chapter meetings. The Concordia student chapter has had success in scheduling meetings and events on the same Sunday of each month throughout the year from 8-9pm so students know to keep the date and time available and can participate consistently. Local educators have been a rich resource for our student chapter- we have seen presentations on everything from classroom management to successfully interviewing for jobs to repertoire ideas for various levels of teaching. Virtual connections through Zoom have allowed our students to invite educators from all over the state to participate. Faculty members at the college have offered sessions on programming as well as mental health and engaged students in important conversations about their future as music educators.

Require or incentivize membership

Choral music education students at Concordia are required to participate in our student ACDA chapter. The leadership board tracks attendance at all student chapter events and adheres to a fairly strict attendance policy. Other student chapters mentioned providing incentives for their members to attend events such as drawing names for prizes. Several student chapter members shared about their success around using ACDA meetings as an opportunity to provide additional podium time to student conductors. Podium time can be a great incentive and provide countless benefits to our music educators.

Host community-building events

While we know that masterclasses and presentations are vital to the development of thoughtful, capable music education students, we also need to provide them with opportunities to build relationships with one another and build a culture of supportive collaboration. Don’t forget to set aside time for students to get to know one another. Veteran music education students should be encouraged to welcome beginning music education students and offer themselves as a resource. A student ACDA chapter can bring music education students together from every year in the degree program in a way that our courses or even ensembles often can’t.

We hope to feature you and your student ACDA chapter in next year’s issues of Star of the North! Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about student ACDA chapters or if you’d like us to include you in our next student chapter forum article. Best wishes for the final weeks of the school year!

Kira Haler Knutson

Assistant Professor of Music
Concordia College – Moorhead