march 13, 2003


NOC Music Intern
Northern Oklahoma College music intern Josh Shawnee of Grove assists Tonkawa Junior High band students as part of the college instrumental music mentoring program for Tonkawa Schools.

NOC Music Intern Program Helps Tonkawa Schools

The drums go bang and the cymbals clang and the horns they blaze away in the Tonkawa High School Band Room, thanks to an innovative mentoring program developed by Northern Oklahoma College.

Faced with the loss of their band instructor at the end of the 2002 spring semester and with budget constraints, Tonkawa High School administrators approached part-time NOC music faculty Jama Moore for assistance with their instrumental music program. The result was the Northern Instrumental Music Intern Program, which allows college instructors and students to work in a highly organized, professional manner with public school music students while bridging a financial shortfall.

“I don’t know of any other community college anywhere doing [the mentoring program],” Moore said. “The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, The Juilliard School in New York City and Southwest Missouri State University at Joplin have similar programs, but not on a sophomore level.”

Under the Northern program, implemented in fall 2003, Tonkawa High School pays a stipend for college student interns to assist Moore with the school band program. As supervisor of the program, Moore has built a 20-member high school band and a 40-member junior high band composed of sixth and seventh graders. “The more students that start in their early years, the better,” she said.

Currently three second-year Northern students, selected by Northern music personnel, work under Moore’s supervision with the students at the high school. With their assistance, Moore is able to meet each band for one class hour every day, teaching jazz band two days and concert band the other three days. “Keeping a balanced program between jazz and concert band is important,” she said, adding that she expects to start a small high school marching band next fall.

With the mentoring program, we can really give the beginners a good start,” Moore noted. Last fall, the high school transported sixth and seventh grade band students to the Northern Performing Arts Center daily for several weeks. There Heilmann, Moore and Northern Director of Jazz Studies Dr. Michael Moore, all of whom are certified school instructors, and the interns worked with woodwind, brass and percussion choirs. “The center has plenty of space to accommodate small groups for intense, personal assistance,” Moore explained. “A total of six mentors worked with the students as opposed to one teacher in the regular school setting.

Northern also benefits from the program. “It’s good for college students to have hands-on experience,” Moore commented, noting that the intern program allows college sophomores to make a decision on what direction they want their music careers to take. “Two of the interns have decided to become band directors; one prefers to perform rather than to teach,” she said. Another big plus is the increased opportunity for Northern to recruit well-trained students from Tonkawa public schools. “We hope to create a feeder program from the high school into the college,” Moore said. The mentoring program will ensure that the music plays on.

Story Contact: Marjilea Smithheisler