2020 Election

2020 Candidates

Candidates are asked to share a short biography and to answer the following three questions: 
What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?  
What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors? 
3.      What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?


Ashley Brock


Bio: Ashley grew up in Kearney and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2008 with a Bachelors of Arts in Education.  Currently, she is 5-12 Vocal Music Director for Holdrege Public Schools where she directs the 5-6 Music Program, 7-8 Mixed Choir, High School Mixed Chorus, Women’s Choir, Varsity Concert Choir, Show Choirs and various small ensembles.  In addition, she is also the High School Musical Director, the Assistant Director for the Spring Play and serves on the Holdrege Education Association Negotiations Team. 

Outside of the classroom, Ashley is a frequent performer and Musical Director for Crane River Theater in Kearney.  Ashley is also the owner of The Crystal Leaf and Serenity Studios in downtown Holdrege where she teaches music lessons in voice and piano and also offers a variety of music classes for her community.  Ashley and her husband, Travis, reside in Holdrege with their 5 rescue pets: Duke, Lily, Layla, Salem and Sabrina.  In her free time, Ashley enjoys traveling, riding horses, camping and enjoying the outdoors. 

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like? 

Music is a vital part of our humanity and an essential part of education.  Over the past years, music educators have had to not only adapt into new ways of teaching and sharing content, but also in finding ways to keep their students motivated and inspired.  Students that choose to participate in music become part of a family that provides a safe place for them to explore and develop their individualism while working towards a common goal.  Music allows students to have an emotional experience and helps them learn about the value of truthful expression and empathy.   As music educators, we were first aspiring student musicians.  Each of us chose to devote our lives to this rewarding craft because of a personal and/or emotional experience on our own journey.  That in itself solidifies a determination to give those experiences to our students.

The many challenges that music teachers continue to face and overcome is indicative of what the future holds for our profession and our young musicians.   We, as musicians and educators, can and will adapt, adjust, and find innovative ways to continue to bring music to our students.   For that reason, I believe that although it will not always be easy, we will continue to advocate for our programs and for all the students that need music, their peers, and us, in their lives.   Whether we are creating in person or virtually, I truly believe that we will always strive to make music an essential part of education.

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

My desire to provide consistent, quality musical experiences for my students paired with my commitment to create supportive ways for teachers to share, collaborate and learn from one another is what will make me a strong asset to the board of directors.   I believe that the success of students is a direct result of how we support our educators, so it is important that the voices of our music teachers are heard and valued.

Throughout my journey as a teacher, I have had numerous opportunities that have helped prepare me for this position. From a classroom perspective, I have worked very hard to grow our small town music program and have become a voice for rural communities. In addition, I have also served as the President of the Holdrege Education Association and am currently an active member of our negotiations team.  Outside of the classroom, I own my own music studio where I provide music education opportunities that are accessible to all members of my community.  I am also a regular performer for Crane River Theater in Kearney and have been on the direction team for numerous professional productions. 

These opportunities have taught me patience, determination and the necessary skills for advocating for the music education in our state.  In addition, they have helped me learn about numerous financial resources that are available to music educators.  If you have a dream or a goal for your program, I am confident I can find a way to help you achieve it.

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?

I believe helping teachers find financial support and resources to supplement their school budget is vital to the success of music in our state.  With the ever changing world of digital music, technology requirements, digital recording, and instrumental/equipment needs it is essential that teachers have consistent access to financial assistance resources.  By helping teachers apply for additional funding, we can allow teachers to dream and create more unique opportunities for students which will help programs grow and gain momentum.

Nebraska is very unique in that many of our large musical experiences happen on the eastern side of the state.  As a small town teacher, I have become very aware that the amazing student achievements happening in rural communities, as well as the western side of our state, are not as easily recognized.  I would like to encourage NMEA to strive for more statewide unity that includes increased  musical opportunities for students in all parts of Nebraska and consistent statewide partnerships between educators.

Finally, I would like to see NMEA help support the entire journey of music educators.   This might be visible by offering increased support for our new teachers, learning opportunities for teachers in unique or difficult teaching situations, outreach to our smaller and rural communities, increased guidance on how to give stronger classroom experiences to our student teachers, and more.  By supporting teachers from start to finish we can cultivate a strong growth mindset and can continue to provide valuable musical opportunities for the students in our state. 


Tracy Anderson

Bio: Tracy Anderson is currently in her 16th year as the 5-12 Vocal Music teacher at Wayne Community Schools.  Prior to that, she taught at Wakefield Community Schools for five years.  A graduate of Wayne State College with degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Mrs. Anderson has enjoyed her many years of teaching sharing her passion for music with students in general music, choirs, and musical theater.  Creating an inclusive community where the talents of each and every student is appreciated, Wayne Community Schools has seen a continuation of an historically strong and active vocal music program.  Students are encouraged to find their place in the world within the life-changing experiences of choral music and musical theater.  In 2013, she was awarded the Wayne Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year Award, a testament to the students of Wayne Community Schools and their dedication to the music program.  Mrs. Anderson and her husband Derek spend their free time enjoying their children, Dylan (17) and Adrienne and Gavin (both 13).   

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?   Music education in Nebraska is going to look very different on the outside, unlike anything we have experienced.  Will we be able to host public performances as we are all comfortable with?  Likely not in the short term.  So, what to do with our students if we can’t even rehearse in person, let alone perform?  What purpose will music have in our schools if we are not in the public eye and students don’t have that rousing round of applause to keep them motivated?  We will simply have to find new and exciting ways to engage students and embrace the idea that performance as we know it may not be the primary end-product.  Our audiences (and possibly school administration) only see that small visible portion of the musical iceberg, never fully understanding the massive investment lurking under the water.  This is our chance to step away from the podium or the stage and dive beneath the surface to explore new depths with our students. NMEA members are a fantastic variety of new and seasoned teachers, who work with equally fantastic and diverse students.  Now is the time for us band together and use our strengths to get through the current situation and lay the groundwork for what could be a whole new approach to the future of music education.  
2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

I enjoy organizing information so that decisions can be made to the benefit of students, giving them the best chance to be successful.   I look forward to the opportunity to bring ideas gleaned from partnerships with my colleagues across the state and give a voice to those who need it.  It is exciting to meet new people and hear their story and how they share their passion for music with their students and their communities.  I value the time spent collaborating and understand the logistical details necessary to bring people together. 

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?
As with many organizations, the challenges facing NMEA oftentimes outnumber the successes.  The differences in philosophies or demographics, disparities in resources or support at the local level, and trying to balance the budget are all big-ticket items that must be addressed by the NMEA board of directors on an annual basis.  And that is just scratching the surface in a “normal” year.  Add in the viability and safety of performing ensembles, meeting the needs of a very different music education landscape, and supporting the membership in this brave new world, and it would appear that NMEA has a monumental task in front of them.  

NMEA must remain vigilant and diligent in order to ensure music education is a part of the conversation in our schools in the face of great uncertainty.  We are going to have to be innovative and visionary as we move forward and we must partner with other supportive entities who can further our mission and who share our same passion of arts for all.  I would be honored to be part of a team of people who are ready to offer their expertise to navigate through the next few years and beyond.  Music is essential to the human community and there is no time like the present to seize this opportunity.  



Holly Eberhardt


Bio: Holly Eberhardt proudly serves as the Lead Teacher for the Department of Music for the Omaha Public Schools (OPS), a position she has held since 2019. Prior to this role, she was a K-5 Vocal Music Educator within the district for 12 years. Before coming to OPS, Holly was the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Bands at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the 5-8 Band/Vocal Music Educator for the Galva-Holstein (Iowa) Community School District.

During her time in OPS, Holly has participated in curriculum writing and development, planning and presenting professional development, mentoring new music teachers, supporting collaborative efforts between the district and community organizations, and organizing district-level festivals and events. Additionally, she has written elementary music curriculum for the State of Nebraska.

Holly holds a Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, education emphasis, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Doane University.  Holly is a National Board-Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood music.  She is serving as the chapter President of the Plains States Kodály Organization and served on the Great Plains Orff Chapter board for eight years. Holly is certified in Orff and Kodály teaching methodologies. 

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?  Music education in Nebraska will be different as a result of COVID-19; these changes can potentially change how music courses are taught moving forward.  Courses will be taught in a variety of settings using technology to connect and engage students in their learning. With research being conducted regarding the safety of making music, music educators in our state are looking for ways to create viable and meaningful experiences with their students. Technology can be the tool that can not only help our students learn but help them move ahead within their learning. As music educators, we need to be looking for ways to incorporate the use of technology in traditional, hybrid, and remote settings. 
2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

I love learning about new ideas and activities for the classroom, the positive impact they can have on student learning, and sharing them with as many music educators as possible. I attend as many elementary general music workshops as possible to learn about the latest trends in music education at the local, regional, and national level. When working with educators and leaders, it is important to me to consider the thoughts of others to create solutions and outcomes that are in the best interest of students yet align with the task at hand.  I am extremely organized, detail-oriented, and continue to work on tasks until they are finished and done correctly.

In addition to my strengths and skills, I have served on various boards, assisted with conference planning and implementation, and regularly work with leaders. I have served on the board of the Great Plains Orff Chapter in various positions for eight years, and I am currently serving as President of the Plains States Kodály Organization and have been on the board since 2011. I have helped with planning and implementing three regional conferences with the Midwest Kodály Music Educators of America. In my current role as Lead Teacher, I collaborate with district leadership, community partners, and teachers to provide the best musical experiences for students. With my strengths, skills, and knowledge about current trends in music education, it would be an honor to serve Nebraska’s music educators in this capacity. 

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization? The NMEA Board of Directors present a top-notch conference every year and are very responsive to any questions or concerns I have as a member of the organization.  Many elementary music educators will come to this conference as their only source of professional development that is specific to their content area for the entire school year.  Providing opportunities for networking outside of the annual conference would be helpful, as many music educators in rural areas are the only ones within several miles. Establishing and maintaining a mentoring program for new music educators to partner up with an educator in a similar setting would provide support and encouragement. Finally, finding ways to integrate the use of technology to provide the very best musical experiences for students and creating professional development opportunities for teachers is a priority. 
Contact Information:

Home Information

14502 Edna Street

Omaha, NE 68138

402.880.7811 (cell) (preferred)

hollycampbell81@gmail.com (preferred) 

 Work Information

Omaha Public Schools

Teacher Administrative Center

Department of Music

3215 Cuming Street

Omaha, NE 68131

531.299.5724 (office)


Emily Roemmich

Bio: Emily graduated with her Bachelors in K-12 Music Education from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 2008. After graduation, she began teaching general elementary music for Grand Island Public Schools. During her time with GIPS, she began working on her Master’s of Music in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln which she graduated with in 2012. While in Grand Island, she directed the Grand Island Public Schools Fifth Grade Honor Choir, and made presentations on music and literacy at both the Nebraska State Reading Conference as well as at Wayne State College.  In 2017 she began teaching for Kearney Public Schools at Northeast Elementary. Emily recently presented at the 2019 NMEA conference. She plays an active role in helping organize meetings with the Midwest Nebraska Elementary Music Educators, along with her Kearney colleagues. In her spare time she gives piano lessons, plays and sings for her local church, participates with the local community theater, and sings with the Platte River Singers. She also stays busy with her six year old son Jaxon.

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?  

This year has made every music teacher reflect on what education in the future will look like. Education is constantly advancing with new technologies and innovative curriculums. I believe the creative arts, specifically music, are going to be a necessity as we move forward, especially with the amount of technology to which students are  exposed. Music gives students the power to connect. They connect with their fellow performers. They connect with their conductor. They connect with the audience. These connections are vital to their growth and well-being. Music classrooms provide a creative outlet for students where they can imagine, explore, compose and create. 

The challenges we have faced so far with COVID-19 have forced us to become more flexible, innovative, and advocates for our field.  Music teachers have shown that we can rise to new challenges and bring music to our students, no matter the circumstances. Music has been vital to people’s emotional well-being during these difficult times, and I think it has laid a foundation for the importance of music education to continue in the future. Will we have to continue to advocate for our discipline? Yes. However, I believe that the struggles we have faced have only made us, as educators, stronger, and music education will flourish with this new found strength and adaptiveness. Music education may take on many new platforms, whether it is face-to-face or virtual, but it will continue to be an integral part of a student’s educational journey.

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

I have a great passion for elementary music education. Music education in the elementary grades is the foundation of a student’s musical experiences. We get the incredible gift of sparking a passion for music in kids and seeing that passion grow as they go through their academic career. 

I have had a number of leadership opportunities in my thirteen years of teaching. I have organized and directed a fifth grade honor choir consisting of around 100 students. I organized and directed a children’s theater group for 3 years ranging from grades 3-8. I directed musicals for Grand Island Central Catholic for two years.  Because of these leadership experiences, I am organized, have good time management skills, and work well under pressure. 

I take every opportunity I can get to participate in professional development. I believe workshops, clinics, and sharing sessions are so valuable as music teachers, since we are often a lone island in our schools. Small towns may only have one music teacher for the entire district. Collaboration and sharing is so vital to our growth as educators. As a board member, I would love to work on developing more opportunities for elementary music teachers to collaborate and share. This includes more elementary focused sessions at our fall NMEA conference, among other opportunities. 

Working alongside the Elementary All-State chair would be a great experience. I pride myself on my organizational and communication skills, and I truly believe the elementary all-state choir is an amazing experience for young students. 

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization? Nebraska is a very large state with its biggest cities located fairly close to one another. I feel that sometimes many rural communities and districts can be overlooked or not have opportunities presented close to them. I believe NMEA could work on creating collaboration and sharing sessions throughout the state, where teachers can get together to get new ideas and support from colleagues in their field.

Along with collaboration amongst ourselves, we need to continue to advocate for our profession as a whole. I think we could have more of a social media presence, showcasing the amazing things happening in music classes around Nebraska. If people see the power of music education, they will advocate alongside us.  I think in these difficult times, when we’ve had to be socially isolated, it is so important to bring music to people across the state, and we can do this by sharing what is happening in our classrooms.

Finally, I think that NMEA could develop more support for teachers in their first few years of teaching. NMEA could provide names of people willing to mentor and support new teachers. This would be especially helpful for people starting out in rural communities. If we want to continue advocating for our field, we need to help our new educators grow in their profession so the quality of our music education in the state can, in turn, grow.


Chris Cotignola


Bio: Chris Cotignola is currently the Director of Instrumental Music at Bryan High School in the Omaha Public School District. He directs the Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band, Orchestra, Honors Orchestra, co-teaches 7th grade band, and previously taught AP Music Theory. Prior to OPS, he taught at Skutt Catholic High School from 2013-2017. There he directed the Concert Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Pep Band, and administrated the winter color guard program.

A Pennsylvania native, Mr. Cotignola earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Messiah College in Grantham, PA. He earned a Master's Degree in Music Education through the American Band College with Central Washington University.  His primary saxophone teachers were Aaron Patterson and Dr. Amanda Heim. He also studied jazz improvisation with Kirk Reese, Tim Warfield Jr., and Matt Otto. His professional memberships include NAfME, NMEA, and NSBA.

When he is not teaching, Chris enjoys playing saxophone in a wide range of professional settings, and he and his wife Paige are original members of the Midwests premier salsa orchestra Esencia Latina. He also loves playing sports such as soccer and golf, reading, board games, and spending time with family and friends.  

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like? 

I believe that the future of music education in Nebraska needs to be more collaborative than ever before. Being away from our students due to a pandemic has been very challenging, but some new ways of engaging with our students, parents, and colleagues have emerged. We must continue to strengthen these relationships. This might look like having a video call in your classroom with a clinician that cannot easily get to your school. Or, it could be a call with a composer to have a discussion on a piece of music they wrote. I realize that some have utilized video calls prior to the pandemic, but hopefully those that have never done it before will consider trying it.

We must also consider allowing for more student collaboration in our classrooms. Rather than being outcome focused with guidance given from the educator, I believe we need to be more process focused. Allow students more time and opportunity to make decisions. Rather than saying “play this section softer”, consider saying things like “let’s perform this section a few different ways then  discuss how you think it should go.” I often find some of the best rehearsals or classes I’ve had is when I get out of the way more and allow for more student decisions. Relax the pressure of when something needs to be learned and focus more on how it should be learned. By allowing for more student-centered learning and growth in our classrooms I believe we can engage more students in music making while also fostering deeper connections between our students. We all know the benefits of music education, so we must continually question how things have been done and consider how things could be done so that music education continues to stay relevant and important to our students and communities.

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

I love to meet new people and foster relationships. I believe that the best leaders make a point to build relationships with people at all levels in their organization. If I can help a group of students or colleagues personally, I will make it happen. If I can’t, I will find a way to connect someone who can help. I have lived in different places around the country and have fostered relationships in those places that would serve me well on the board. As a candidate for the Director of Jazz Affairs, a key task will be to hire a clinician for the All-State Jazz Band, and then manage all the logistics for the event. My many relationships with professional jazz musicians and educators both in Nebraska and around the country will allow me to bring in a slate of world class clinicians new to Nebraska.

In addition to organizing the All-State Jazz Band, I’d like

the Director of Jazz Affairs to be a resource for jazz educators across the state. I’d love to share what expertise I can offer via in person or virtual clinics and masterclasses. For those areas better suited to someone else, I’d love to connect Nebraska educators to other great pedagogues.

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?

NMEA leadership has done a great job to support and strengthen music education in our state. But, I keep thinking that more work can be done. I find that, when it comes to educating young musicians in Nebraska, I have many unanswered questions, such as: how do we widen the variety of music taught to make music in our schools more equitable and accessible to all of the students that we serve? How can we get directors more engaged with professional development opportunities that will facilitate the development of new programs or enhance their current programs? How can we better offer experiences for our students to learn from seasoned musicians and educators? I can’t solve these problems alone, but here are some thoughts on how we can get started:

1.Equity and Accessibility - Let’s determine what type of music programs schools in our state offer. Most schools have some type of band or choir ensemble, but how many offer orchestra, jazz band, world music, or percussion classes? How many offer music production, guitar, or commercial music classes? For those that don’t, why not? For those that do, which students do our ensembles and courses serve? Who are the underserved populations in our programs, and how can we bring more of those students in? We have some serious weaknesses in this area, so it’s time we take a hard look at ourselves and see how we can improve.

2.  Professional Development - in our state, most professional development happens at conventions. Some other opportunities exist, and I have been encouraged by some newer programs getting off the ground. But most, if not all, of these are in Omaha or Lincoln. We might be able to get more directors to travel east for these experiences, but what exists for directors in small towns who can’t travel that far each year? What resources can we provide them? This leads me to my next point...

3. More Frequent Guest Artists - outside of the All-State Festival, guest artists usually only come to work with Nebraska’s students at festivals or at individual schools that contract them for a clinic/masterclass. We need more regular interaction between our students and experienced musicians and educators. How much money do we spend on outside instructors for our students? If we hire outside instructors, is it only for marching band and show choir? What would our other ensembles look and sound like if we were more equitable with our spending? How can we secure funding for these guest artists? Which artists have never been to our state, and how do we get them here? Which artists exist locally that can regularly serve our students? Or, if we can’t bring a guest artist physically into our buildings, maybe they would agree to do a video call from hundreds or thousands of miles away. I will continue to work hard to encourage my network of professional musicians to visit our state.

This year has proved to be especially trying, and as I write this, students across the state and nation have been absent from our music rooms for over four months. We hope to make music with our students soon, but we’re uncertain how we will do it. I hope we can take some of the lessons we’re learning now and apply them to serve our students in the future. Whatever the world looks like tomorrow, it’s clear that we all need music now more than ever. Let’s work together to make sure music has a more prominent place in the lives of our students, and in our own lives as well. I’ll start: I would like to offer my services to provide in person or video jazz and saxophone clinics to as many schools as I can. E-mail me at:  christopher.cotignola@ops.org.

Pete Madsen


Bio: Pete Madsen has served as the Director of Jazz Studies at UNO since 2000. He received a music education degree from the University of Missouri, a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. Pete’s favorite jazz education pastime is directing the Metropolitan Area Youth Jazz Orchestra (MAYJO) – an auditioned group of high school students that has been selected to perform at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in St. Louis (2010), San Diego (2015), and Dallas (2018). Each February Pete hosts the UNO Jazz Festival which features concerts, clinics, and guest artists that have included Doc Severinsen, Bela Fleck, Sean Jones, Randy Brecker, and Chris Potter. He also hosts the UNO summer jazz camp featuring world-class jazz musicians from around the country. Pete has served in the past on the NMEA Board as Director of College/University Affairs. He is currently serving in an appointed position as NMEA’s Director of Jazz Affairs. Pete met his wife Lee in the Marching Mizzou trombone section. Their son Christian plays trombone in the Missouri State University pep band and their daughter Ashleigh is a trumpet player and music education major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?

If there’s one thing we learned in 2020 it’s that we can’t predict the future. The spring of 2020 was the most challenging time in my 20 years as a music educator in Nebraska. And it looks like the challenges will continue for quite some time. As we look to the future, we should remember what we have learned in 2020.

First and foremost we learned that Nebraska music educators are resilient, resourceful, creative, and dedicated! Whether through soundtrap, the acapella app, virtual ensembles, or other methods, Nebraska’s music teachers have continued to inspire and educate. I believe the future will include increased collaboration across our (very big) state thanks to widely accessible technology. It’s 577 miles from Falls City, Nebraska to Chadron, Nebraska. Yet the entire state can be in the same “room” together through zoom!

For most of us, “zoom” was onomatopoeia in January. By early April “zoom” was a verb, adjective, and noun! Our days became zoom after zoom after zoom (or insert the name of the platform used by your particular school district). Why not use this technology in the future to facilitate collaboration between teachers and create learning opportunities for Nebraska’s students?

The future of music education in Nebraska is bright, but not because of the technology. It’s because of the people who are savvy enough to creatively use available resources and generous enough to share their skills and knowledge with their colleagues in the state. Even if they are 577 miles away!

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

The NMEA board recently voted to make the Director of Jazz Affairs an elected board position. Previously this position was a committee chair appointed by the NMEA President  under the purview of the Director of Band Affairs. I have had the distinct pleasure of serving in this appointed role for the past two years and I am truly humbled and honored to be on the slate of candidates for the first ever election for this important position!

I have enjoyed my role in the appointed position and would be happy to extend my tenure before handing over the reins at the next election cycle. I am extremely passionate about jazz education. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing Nebraska’s best young jazz musicians performing together under the tutelage of a jazz expert at the November NMEA All-State Conference!

I have extensive experience organizing large scale jazz education events including the UNO Jazz Festival and the UNO Jazz Camp. The UNO Jazz Festival includes three performance venues, 50+ bands from four states, 10 guest artists from throughout the country, professional performances, clinics, and major headliner guest artists that have included the Brubeck Brothers, Diane Schuur, Donny McCaslin, and Eric Marienthal. The UNO Jazz Camp includes 18 professional jazz artists from around the nation, and 150+ participants.

My prior experience with the job, devotion to jazz education, and organizational skills honed through other major jazz education events equip me to excel in this position if elected. 
3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization? In order to strengthen NMEA, more attention needs to be paid to promoting diversity in Nebraska music education. A glance at the leadership and staff page on the NMEA website reveals a noticeable lack of diversity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 88.1% of Nebraska residents are “White alone”. NMEA cannot control the demographics of our state. But NMEA can promote diversity in a number of ways including being proactive in representing people of underrepresented and marginalized populations   in the clinicians we invite to the November conference. If elected, one of my goals would be to make sure that minoritized, underrepresented and marginalized populations are represented as Nebraska All-State Jazz Band conductors during my three-year term of office. Since its inception in 1986 there has only been one woman conductor of the Nebraska All-State Jazz Band. The U.S. Census Bureau declares (not surprisingly) that 50% of Nebraskans are “female persons”. Yet a glance at my UNO Jazz Ensemble on any given semester throughout my entire 20 year career reveals a  far smaller percentage of women. Take a look at every single Nebraska All-State Jazz Band roster since 1986 and I think you’ll find the same thing. If elected as Director of Jazz Affairs on the NMEA Board I hope to contribute positively by promoting diversity through the individuals invited to lead our All-State Jazz Ensemble. These guests will serve as a role model for all Nebraska students regardless of race, origin, or gender.
Contact Information:

E-mail: petermadsen@unomaha.edu

Cell: 402-312-7135

Office: 402-554-2297

Home Address: 3323 Paddock Road, Omaha, NE 68124

Office Address: UNO Music, 6001 Dodge Street, SPAC 226, Omaha, NE 68182


John Petzet


Bio: Dr. John Martin Petzet is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.  He conducts the Choraleers, Collegium, Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and teaches Secondary Choral Methods and Choral Conducting.  He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he taught middle school and high school for 5 years.  Furthermore, he has conducted honor choirs across Louisiana and in Colorado, was invited to teach at the West Texas Choral Workshop, and to teach, present, and conduct at La Universidad Autónoma De Ciudad Juárez and to work with the Anaíma Ensamble Vocal in Juárez, Mexico.  Dr. Petzet has also written two compact disc reviews for the Choral Journal and has presented interest sessions in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.  He also sang, toured, and recorded with the Kansas City Chorale under the direction of Charles Bruffy during the 2003-2004 season.  While performing with the Chorale, he sang on the Chandos recording of Alexandre Grechaninov’s Passion Week, which won a Grammy for Best Engineered Classical Album. He resides in Kearney, Nebraska with his lovely wife Jennifer and his 3 children:  Zachary, Andrew, and Catherine. 

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?

The future of music education in the state of Nebraska must be a collaborative effort involving future, current, and past music educators.  This should include a mentor program for new teachers, more people at NMEA conventions/greater membership, and a celebration of our retired veteran teachers.  We need to get people involved in our organization, deter isolation across the state by providing registration waivers for teachers who have limited budgets to attend our state convention, and identify formidable directors and get them involved in initiatives that will improve musical opportunity in our state.

The Board of Directors must work together to run this organization in an inviting and impressive manner to attract people to membership using word of mouth but also social media.  Also, we must be a group that solves problems as quickly, efficiently, and humanely as possible.  If we plan our conventions right, they will be centers of collaboration, networking, and scholarship. 

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

My varied background in teaching is the greatest asset I would bring to the NMEA board.  I taught at a public middle school, a private high school, at the collegiate level, have acted or played in the pit orchestra for over 25 musicals, and have been a church musician for 35 years.  In addition, I began as a band director and have been a choral director exclusively since 2002.  I am a vocalist and instrumentalist, just returned from a Southern Division ACDA invited performance with Red Shift, a professional choir, and because of my guitar background, enjoy performing both pop and classical music. This experience helps me approach the needs of this organization as a musician and a teacher first, not just as a choral director.  I have worked hard through the years to listen carefully, communicate clearly, and affirm a positive outlook. In the past, I have recruited well and have a genuine desire to assist other teachers.  I know that I will give my best effort to increase the numbers of participants in NMEA and in the process, meet lots of terrific educators from all different areas, and enthusiastically make a difference.  

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?
The Board of Directors must be staffed with people who communicate clearly, have a desire to solve problems, and can see the perspective of music education from 3 angles: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.  Since I’m new to Nebraska, my strength would be in devising a plan for the future.  Over 25% of attendance at the last several national/regional ACDA conventions is made up of new teachers.  Part of my plan would be to support and encourage this source of new blood in our profession.  We need a mentorship program for these young teachers so they can get connected with veteran teachers that can assist them throughout their first years in the field to counter-resist the noticeable rate of burnout.  The state of Nebraska is training up some fabulous new music educators and we need their input and involvement in our state organizations.  

Kayla Nilson

Bio: Kayla lives in Ainsworth, Nebraska with her husband BJ and their two sons, Wylie and Cooper. She has been the K-12 vocal music director for 7 years at Ainsworth Community Schools. She spends her time teaching K-4th grade general music, middle school choir, and high school choir. She enjoys working with her select men’s and women’s choir and teaching about musical theater and music in cinema.  Kayla is a proud member of the Nebraska Music Educators Association, Nebraska Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association, and National Association for Music Education.

Outside of school, Kayla loves spending time with family and friends, playing outside with her boys, cooking and baking, and volunteering her time to different clubs and organizations in the Ainsworth community.

1. What does Nebraska’s music education of the future look like?  

The future of music education is bright. To see the way that all music educators have reached out and helped each other in recent months shows that our educators are growing and evolving and becoming better and stronger versions of themselves. By making ourselves vulnerable and being willing to ask for help and reaching out to other educators, then we will continue to grow as a profession. We all have our own set of strengths and weaknesses. We have to be willing to go outside our comfort zones to makes ourselves better at what we do. With this personal and professional growth, we will take music education to the next level for our students, school districts, and future music educators.

2. What specific strengths, skills, and ideas do you possess that will make you a better member of the board of directors?

I am a highly social, passionate, and outgoing individual and I am excited to have this opportunity to interact with the future of our profession, and to start building those relationships with them. I am ready to continue to deepen the relationships and friendships that I have built with current and past music educators. I tackle every situation with empathy and compassion. I firmly believe that if we can focus on the current relationships that we have with one another and our music students, and continue to grow and build new relationships, then the buy-in for everyone is going to be more substantial and permanent. I am thrilled to be able to help other music students and potential music educators understand our “why” and what NMEA truly stands for.

Finally, I have a great knowledge of the current social media platforms and have no issues navigating through these sites. I am a very positive, proactive, and dedicated person, and I look forward to being able to project that into our social media platforms and articles to best reflect NMEA. I have no issues with asking hard questions and being able to take constructive criticism in order to best serve my state and our mentorship program.

3. What do you feel NMEA leadership needs to do to strengthen music education, the profession, and our organization?
I feel that we as educators and a professional organization need to continue the exceptional collaboration that has been happening during this pandemic, long after the threat of COVID-19 passes. To see all levels of music educators working with each other, without bias, has been truly exceptional. The resources that have been offered to all, both personally and professionally, has been heart-warming to see.   It’s my sincerest hope to see this continue as our world returns to its “new normal”. If we continue to learn from one other, and reach out and support all current music educators and future music educators, then we will truly strengthen music education and our professional organization. It is our job to strive to make music education better than it has ever been. We have to be able to ask each other for help when we need it, and if we can make this easier and less intimidating for our membership, then we will be strengthening all facets of our organization.
  Contact Information:

Personal: 402-369-3277

Work: 402-387-2082

154 N Oak St

Ainsworth, NE 69210