A professor of music at San Francisco State University since 1973 and president, from 1996 to 1998, of the National Association for Music Education (MENC), the largest arts organization in the world, Carolynn Lindeman '62 currently serves on the board of directors for the International Society for Music Education. She has written more than 50 articles on music education and women composers as well as several books, including The Musical Classroom: Backgrounds, Models and Skills for Elementary Teaching. Just this April, she led a delegation of U.S. music educators to Cuba – the first cultural exchange of its kind – to discuss and compare music education. She is married to Alfred Lindeman '62 and has a son, David. Since being named in October to the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lindeman also now has the distinction of being the sole music professor on the 85-member committee.

In appointing Carolynn Lindeman to the Kennedy Center's advisory committee on the arts, former President Bill Clinton officially acknowledged what elementary school children in Commack, New York, already learned in the early 1960s. Lindeman is a passionate advocate for music education.

Since her days teaching music at the Long Island school (Lindeman's first job upon graduating) her contributions to music education have been considerable. Foremost among them: helping to write the National Standards for Music Education. An effort to raise the level of music education in every state, the national standards are a development that many in the field believe is the most important since Lowell Mason introduced music into the Boston public schools in 1838.

At every turn, Lindeman communicates with passion, something that was irrepressible during a recent discussion about her career as an "ambassador" for music, and how Oberlin, the first conservatory in the world to award a degree in what was then known as public-school music, prepared her for her life's work.

One tends to think of the Kennedy Center as a performance venue and for its partnerships with such places as the Lincoln Center or Wolftrap. How does the center contribute to music education and what is its advisory committee on the arts charged with?
CL: The Kennedy Center has an education department that not only gives performances – accompanied by teacher guides – for children at the center, but it also has touring performances that reach many states. The committee provides advice about such outreach, raises funds, and advises the center's board of trustees.

What unique perspectives and strengths do you bring to the committee as music education's only representative?
CL: Although people at this level often have a great interest in music, they might have misconceptions about what constitutes a quality music-education or school-music program. Some think exposure is all that is necessary – that having children attend concerts or visit museums is enough. A comprehensive, sequential music education led by qualified music teachers needs to take place in the schools. The Kennedy Center and other performing organizations play wonderful complementary roles – but not primary roles – in educating our young people in music.

As one deeply involved not only in K-12 music education, but also in music teacher education, I will speak up about appropriate – and inappropriate – current or proposed educational activities at the Kennedy Center, and suggest that the national standards should inform the center's educational activities. I also hope that I can encourage the committee to take a more active role in advocacy efforts regarding strong school music programs.

Why is music education so important to you?
CL: There was an MENC slogan back in the early 1920s, when Karl Gehrkens, a renowned Oberlin professor, was the MENC president: "music for every child and every child for music." This says it all. I believe that every child should have access to a quality music education, should grow up cul-turally literate, and should study music just as he or she studies any other basic subject.

What were your own musical influences growing up?

CL: My mother taught music in the public schools and piano privately. She started me on piano and violin. We lived in a very small town, Port Allegany, Pennsylvania. My parents, knowing that a fine teacher was the key to my success, drove me on Saturdays to Olean, New York – more than an hour away – for private piano lessons. And while this certainly had to be a terrible inconvenience in their lives, off we went, every Saturday. I will be forever grateful that they cared that much.

The music program throughout my school years was also very strong. We had classroom music, instrumental instruction, and choruses. At the secondary level, I was in band, choir, and orchestra.

When did you know that music would be your life's work?
CL: I always knew, and so did my mother, that I would study music in college. She would mention the very best schools (Oberlin was, of course, on that list), and she made me believe that I would be good enough for any of them. When I gained early admission to Oberlin, we were all thrilled because this was exactly what I wanted.

When I began my theory and ear training courses, I truly wondered if I would make it. I remember calling my parents and crying about how difficult theory was. My Dad said, "Honey, if that school is not good enough for you, we'll find another." That sort of says it all about the wonderful parental support I was privileged to have – in my Dad's view, I couldn't be doing anything wrong, it had to be the school.

You met your husband at Oberlin. Besides introducing you to the love of your life, how else did Oberlin play a hand in your career?
CL: Oberlin prepared me in every way for my career. Oberlin has the finest teachers, not to mention a solid, comprehensive program. The Dalcroze eurythmics requirement was one of the highlights. I was also extraordinarily blessed to study in Salzburg during my junior year. For someone who came from a small town, that experience was an eye-opener.

I also got my start in MENC at Oberlin; I served as an officer in Oberlin's collegiate chapter. I learned early on how helpful and stimulating it is to be connected with others working toward the same goals.

What is the biggest challenge facing music education today?
CL: The huge music-teacher shortage! We simply do not have enough teachers to fill the positions. In states like mine, California, emergency credentials are being issued to anyone who breathes. This is an enormous problem, because an unprepared music teacher can spell the end to a school music program.

Are there any signs of hope?
CL: Federal legislation passed in 1994 declared music and the other arts to be core academic subjects. This official declaration, plus the establishment of the national standards, gives music education more curricular clout than it has had in decades. States are adopting the standards, and will soon assess student achievement in meeting them. Gallup polls conducted regularly over the past few years indicate that the American public wants music to be part of the curriculum, and believes it should be mandated.

Do you have any advice for music-education majors?
CL: Convey your own passion and love for music and teaching! This is the most important thing you can do to inspire students. Enjoy every minute of your time at Oberlin – it is the most fabulous place in the world to live and breathe music, day in and day out. Prepare yourself well as a musician – and I don't just mean in your primary performance area. To teach tomorrow's children, we need teachers who are comprehensive musicians – ones with the whole package: great musical skills, a broad knowledge of history and theory, and a solid background on how to convey that knowledge to others.