National University

Alumni Underscore the Value and Importance of Music

 Certainly, we want our children to learn about Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein; but what about Shakespeare, Picasso and Beethoven? They’re pretty important too.

Teaching reading, writing and arithmetic helps students to be functional, employable members of society. Teaching the performing arts makes them well-rounded citizens of the world.

National University boasts a diverse and wide array of outstanding music teachers who are adding color and creativity to the academic experience while making a profound impact on future generations. For as Plato said, “music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Alumnus Richard Kravchak (Credential, 1988) is a former Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher of the Year who taught music at Conoga Park High School in Los Angele and also served as vice president of the California Music Educators Association.

Kravchak, who is currently Chair and Professor of Music at California State University Dominguez Hills, was profiled in the 2009 edition of Vision magazine, National University’s annual alumni publication. “It is important and critical to have music programs in our schools,” he said in that article. He described music as “a distinct form of cognition,” and a valid form of mental discipline, as relevant as math or science to the intellectual development of a high school student.

Alumna Diana Lanane (Credential, 2004/M.Ed, 2007) is another music teacher was also featured in Vision magazine, in the 2005 edition. A trained vocalist who once sang with the Southern California Choral Society, she moved to Bishop, California with her husband and was invited to teach chorus at the local high school, but needed a teaching credential. Without access to National University’s online credential program, Lanane said the only other option would have been to travel up to 200 miles every weekend to attend an extension course in San Joaquin Valley. Such a long-distance commute wouldn’t have been possible for the mother of four children.

Lanane’s credential allowed Bishop Union High School to resurrect its school choir, and for the first Christmas in ten years, her students performed at a public tree lighting ceremony sponsored by the local chamber of commerce. In her own words, Lanane said that her presence “brought something very special back to the community of Bishop.”

Alumna Pauline Crooks (Master of Arts in Teaching, 2006) is President-Elect of the California Association for Music Education Southern Border Section. She is the daughter of a music teacher, a flutist who knew from a young age that she wanted to help children to learn an instrument and play in a band. Due to California’s ongoing budget crisis, she says these have been challenging times for music programs in public schools across the state.

“Fortunately, the parents, educational leaders and community leaders in my school district have been very supportive of music education, but I have a lot of colleagues who haven’t been so fortunate,” she says. Her organization does a lot of advocacy work, talking with school boards and parents and providing music teachers with the resources to defend their programs and protect their budgets.

In addition to enhancing academic performance, Crooks recognizes that music curricula helps to strengthen attendance and build self esteem. “Kids need an outlet for their creativity and a place to belong,” she adds. “I have a lot of students who are really shy, but music allows them to come out of their shell.”

On March 12, the National University Center for Cultural and Ethnic Studies (NUCCES) will honor two alumni music teachers who have played a key role in preserving Mexican heritage and advancing diverse arts and culture mariachi music throughout the region (see related article).

Serafin Paredes (Master of Education, 2002) leads the mariachi band at San Diego High School and is founder of Mariachi Juvenil, a non-profit organization that focuses on the importance of music education. Wendy Charines (Master of Education, 2006) teaches mariachi, choir and orchestra at San Ysidro High School.

A reception is being held on their behalf on Tuesday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the National University Spectrum Academic Center in Kearny Mesa. It will be a good opportunity for music teachers and educators in the performing arts to gather and support one another. For more information, click here.