Photo courtesy of Luther College
On Wednesday, March 17, Luther College hosted the first anti-racism roundtable. This event was hosted by the Future Music Educators Association (FMEA) in collaboration with the Anti-racism Task Force. The roundtable’s goal was to cover representation in music education regarding BIPOC, women, and LGBTQIA+ composers. 12 members were in attendance at the event.
The Luther College FMEA was created to promote professionalism and give teaching opportunities to music education majors at Luther College. By their sophomore year at Luther, majors are required to be a member of FMEA, but most students view it as another learning opportunity, and are excited to be a part of the organization.
FMEA member and Nordic Choir alto Amber Olson (‘23) was eager to be a part of the roundtable discussion. She felt it was important for FMEA to help facilitate this important conversation about race in the academic study of music.
“We wanted to provide a space for all music students to discuss and highlight the music of underrepresented composers,” Olson said. “We feel that providing a space for these conversations is an important first step towards including these composers in our future performances and classrooms. There aren’t specific composers that we focus on, we want students to be able to explore and research composers that they personally find interesting.”
FMEA President Abigail Toussaint (‘21) is a member of the Luther College Concert Band, where she plays the oboe. She expressed gratitude that the music repertoire, chosen by Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Cory Near, was a lot more diverse than in past years.
Toussaint was impressed with the music department’s efforts to combat racism and promote equal representation in music performance and education. She was also grateful that FMEA was collaborating with the Anti-Racism Task Force at Luther, although she believes these steps are just a starting point and that the changes FMEA hopes to make on campus will not be instantaneous.
“We all understand the importance of this,” Toussaint said. “These roundtables are just the first step, and likewise for the conversations that we’re having in classes and ensembles and music lessons. All of that is just the first step [in] a continual process, a constant learning, constant growing, constant listening.”
Spencer Gillian (‘22), FMEA member and Nordic Choir bass, emphasized that the work put into these roundtable discussions is not the end of the discussion, or the duties that FMEA as a whole has to make music more inclusive. Gillian believes that as members of both the music and the Luther community, these students must bridge the gap to spread the message of inclusivity throughout campus.
“The whole purpose of this roundtable is to give people a starting point,” Gillian said. “It’s to normalize [the] sort of everyday minute actions that are going to build up people’s narratives and make sure that we all are challenging our perspectives and diversifying representation in our repertoire and our music program.”