By Adrienne Stazzone
To many students, the thought of changing majors as a second-semester junior is absolutely frightening. But for current senior Aimee Deibert, who switched from music education to music theory and composition, that tough decision turned out to be the right one.
Last fall, Deibert submitted a paper on John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, the “Tarentella” movement, to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the College Music Society. Her senior project paper, written under music theory and composition professor and musical theater program chair, Dr. Jay Kawarsky, was approved. Deibert was invited to present her paper at the conference.
“I was one of only three students chosen to present a paper,” Deibert said. “I was nervous but was put more at ease once I was able to meet other students and faculty.”
Held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., the conference included presentations on subjects such as music education, performance and theory.
“During the conference, sessions are held where students and faculty from universities in the mid-atlantic region present on different topics,” she said. “Some of the sessions are research paper presentations, some [involve] recitals and some are lecture-based.”
There is no declared conference “winner,” which Deibert believes fosters encouragement among presenters.
“We all support each other’s research,” she said. “I found the conference to be a rewarding experience because I got to network with some of my peers and faculty from other universities and learn about up-and-coming research in the music world, such as tablet PCs in the music theory classroom.”
Dr. Ronald Hemmel, professor of music theory and composition, and Deibert’s adviser, first informed her of the conference in order to build her résumé and expand her graduate school options.
“By presenting her paper at this conference, she has experienced an academic conference, added an important accomplishment to her professional résumé, chatted with other students from the mid-Atlantic region who are interested in music theory, and met professors who will, in the not-too-distant future, be hiring new faculty like Aimee,” Hemmel said. “While graduate students sometimes present their research at these events, it is rather unusual for undergraduates to do so.”
Hemmel’s advice paid off big time for Deibert, who will attend the University of South Carolina in the fall to obtain a Master of Music in music theory. For someone who declared a new major just one year ago, this is certainly no small feat.
“I decided to switch majors after some soul-searching,” she said. “I realized that I was passionate about teaching and music theory and felt that becoming a music theory professor was what I needed to do. After a summer full of classes and careful planning, I am able to graduate on time.”
Deibert’s positive experience with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the College Music Society has left her eager to participate in similar forums.
“I will certainly go to, and hopefully present at, more conferences in the future,” she said.
On April 27, Deibert will have the chance to deliver her presentation once more at the Department of Music Composition, History and Theory’s Celebration of Student Research Program on campus.
“Conference attendance and presentations are part of many disciplines in higher education,” Hemmel said.
“These forums are opportunities to present the results of one’s research, to learn about what colleagues are doing across the country and beyond, and to network.”
For Deibert, what lies ahead can only be described as music to the ears.
“I have truly enjoyed my time at Westminster and am very grateful to my wonderful professors for their interest in, and dedication to, my education,” she said. “However, I am excited to move to South Carolina and continue my education in Music Theory.”