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First Graduate Cohort Begins LU Classes

Maya Neeley, Shawn Batten and Kendra Aylor relaxing between classes Maya Neeley, Shawn Batten and Kendra Aylor relaxing between classes

It's so wonderful that Longwood now has a masters program that's geared toward helping me become a better musician and educator!" said Gary Jack, member of the first graduate cohort and a 2004 graduate (BM) of the Longwood undergraduate music program.

The graduate program was a long time in the making, but it is now off and running. Several surveys were done to determine the potential market for such a degree and a program was crafted to best meet the needs of the community Longwood serves. As Teri Kidd (a senior member of the cohort) has said more than once, "Good things come to those who wait. It's never too late to embark on a new adventure...."

This program aspires not only to provide advanced pedagogical study for the practicing teacher, but also to provide each teacher/graduate student with opportunities to refresh and expand his or her own musicianship. Regarding her applied study, Maya (Miller) Neely (BM, 2002 from Longwood) said, "My voice is doing things that are so different and awesome." Other members of the cohort have mentioned the inspiration along with the challenges of their applied study. Music courses offered during this past summer included music research (mostly online), technology, and analysis (both on campus). The second summer will provide options for music electives, and the program will culminate in a major research project that may take the form of a thesis, teacher research, or a lecture/recital.

Shawn Batten joined the program with some reservations and later said, "I was quite hesitant at first in pursuing my masters degree after ten years of teaching, but I was so welcomed by the staff of Longwood University that my fears instantly disappeared. I was very impressed with the faculty, because they were patient and helped each member of the cohort see their true potential on the masters level." Kevin Lewis, commenting about the classes said, "It has been an eye opener to realize the wealth of information available online and how streamlined the research process has become." And Vera Walton added, "I have learned much in the short time that I have been with the program. I thought that I was pretty good with computers, but have since discovered that there is so much more to learn and do, even in music."

The cohort organization has proven to be a truly positive force in this program. As a cohort, all the graduate students start at the same time, take all the music courses together and finish at approximately the same time, depending on their individual research. (Students may take the four education classes as they wish, not restricted by the cohort schedule.) The cohort plan has already proven to be wonderfully successful. The interaction among the students has created a very productive atmosphere for the program and has obviously inspired valuable lifetime professional and personal friendships.

The first cohort consists of twelve participants, all but one of whom is currently teaching in the public schools. Their positions range from elementary to high school teaching; their areas include instrumental, vocal, and general; and their professional experience levels cover the entire range. Perhaps the diversity of this cohort has been part of the magic that has made it so lively and successful.

One of the students, in talking about the third course said, "Well, it's pay-back time now." She had run into some obstacles in the second course and had asked for help from several of the other students. She was especially competent in the third course and, during that course, had the opportunity to help many of her cohort colleagues with various projects.

Dr. Lust, coordinator of the graduate program noted, "One Saturday evening I walked into Teri Kidd's house to find Gary Jack at the kitchen table working on an analysis project, Mick Anderson in the living room rehearsing some songs with Jim Kidd (Teri's husband). Teri told me that she had just gotten off the phone with a fourth member of the cohort and that she was expecting a fifth member to show up at her house at any minute. Wow! What a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie. I love it!" Reflecting on the strength of the cohort organization, Kevin Lewis said "It has been nice to get to know some musicians and educa- 2006 Cohort in Class.