JMU School of Music Fall 2019 alumni newsletter



Happy Fall, Alumni! This is our first edition of the Alumni Newsletter for the 2019-2020 school year. To those of you receiving this for the first time, our goal is to keep James Madison University School of Music alumni up to date with events at JMU, feature faculty members & students, and cover information that may be of interest to you, your colleagues, or your students.

We want this newsletter to reflect aspects in which you as alumni are interested. If you have an idea of different features or information you’d like to receive, let us know! You can contact Sarah Macomber at macombse@jmu.edu.

Help us reach other alumni by encouraging those not connected to us via social media to visit the "Update Your Info" and “Send Us Your Story” links below!

Phi Mu Alpha Gamma Alpha Chapter Celebrates 50th Anniversary

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, the Gamma Alpha chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia celebrated its 50th Anniversary on the campus of James Madison University. The day marked 50 years to the day of the chartering of the chapter on May 11, 1969. Among those in attendance included 45 of the active collegiate members, over five dozen alumni members, including chartering members Jim Sheldrake and Victor Martin, national and provincial leadership of the Fraternity, including the National President, Mark R. Lichtenberg, and other guests.

The day consisted of many events, including a brother recital at the Harrisonburg Baptist Church, various fraternal ceremonies, and a formal banquet at the Hotel Madison. During the banquet, the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Orpheus Award was presented to the chapter faculty advisor, Dr. William Dabback.

The event was highly praised by attendees, as a fun, meaningful, and music-filled day. The event was planned by active collegiate members in the Chapter. The main event coordinator was T.J. Horan and assisted by Ben Dingus, Spencer Barras, Tim DeSimone, Christopher Pennington, and Julius Davis.


Center for Inclusive Music Engagement

The James Madison University Center for Inclusive Music Engagement (CIME) is a collaborative space for practitioners, researchers, and community members to facilitate innovative opportunities for all persons—particularly those are often marginalized in institutional music education contexts—to create, perform, respond, and connect with, in, through, and around music in ways they find meaningful.

CIME, championed by Dean George Sparks and Provost Heather Coltman, was established in December 2018 and is housed within the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CIME is strategically aligned with CVPA’s “Arts for the Real World” initiative, Provost Coltman’s call for innovation (“disrupting norms and assumptions by embracing an experimental and collaborative mindset in an ever-evolving ecosystem") on our campus, and the university’s strategic plan.

Holidayfest: The Gift

The JMU Symphony Orchestra joins the combined Madison Singers and JMU Chorale for an inspired Christmas collage of holiday works for choirs and orchestra, featuring Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and the finale (Ring Out, Ye Crystal Spheres) from the Christmas cantata Hodie. Also featured is a holiday reading of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Prior to the December 8th matinee (at 12:30 pm), children can enjoy crafts, cookies and cider in the Grand Lobby.

Sat. Dec. 7 @ 8PM

Sun. Dec. 8 @ 2PM

Director of the School of Music Retires

Dr. Jeffrey Bush retired in June 2019 after serving the JMU School of Music for 7 years.

Dr. Jeffrey Bush

What were you doing before you came to JMU?

I worked for 15 years at Arizona State University as a professor of music education and then the Associate Director for the School of Music. I also performed in a number of community ensembles and the occasional School of Music group.

How long were you at JMU?

7 years

What are some of your favorite memories of JMU?

Too many to list! But they primarily revolve around people: faculty, staff, students and alumni. It’s an incredible family and I feel very fortunate to have spent these years learning about the Dukes! It’s been a pleasure to represent the school and university throughout the region – at events such as VMEA – and across the country – at events such as national conferences for administrators.

What outsiders don’t really understand is the bond there is between any people that are or have been associated with JMU. I was in Arizona in December and a Duke stopped me on the street because I was wearing a JMU MRD hat – and we chatted for 30 minutes, with him telling me of his special memories. I was on a cruise a few years back and the same thing happened due to wearing a JMU shirt. This is even more apparent in the makeup of the faculty in the School of Music. I can’t think of a better group of people: caring, considerate, passionate and talented. I believe we continue to improve our ability to reach students due to the quality of the people in the School. I also see this in the students: they CARE! They work hard, they are considerate and they make the school, college and university look good every time they perform. Then there are the alumni: what an incredible group of people! I absolutely LOVE the opportunity to meet alums and find out not only what they’re doing but what their JMU experiences were. I hope that every music alumni gets a chance to come back to campus at least every now and then: it’s great to brag about them to the current students and to show OFF the current students to our dedicated alumni.

All and all, I’m just extremely honored to work with so many wonderful people. This has undoubtedly been the best job I’ve ever had.

What's next?!

Candace and I – and our five dogs – will be moving to Sedona, Arizona. We have a house in a very beautiful area of a very beautiful city! I’ve got plans to be involved in several musical organizations (as a volunteer!), work at a few small endeavors and do a lot of hiking! But we’ll be back periodically: we’ll be Dukes forever!

Student Spotlight

Davina Miaw, flute

Music Education

Davina Miaw

Hi! My name is Davina Miaw and I am a senior Music Education Major on flute with a Minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. My hometown is Centreville, VA and I attended Chantilly High School.

Here at JMU, I’ve had several musical opportunities; these include co-presenting at two state music education conferences, participating in the National Flute Association Convention as a Frances Blaisdell Scholar, and facilitating JMUke events in the Harrisonburg community.

The highlight of this past year has been completing my Honors Capstone Project titled “Pieces of Us: Songwriting Our Stories in Harrisonburg, VA.” I got to work alongside and learn from local music teacher, Maggie Hagy, as she taught a songwriting unit to fifth graders. My research sought to discover how students’ identities as songwriters, musicians, and people changed over the course of this unit. I am so thankful for my faculty advisor, Dr. David Stringham, who has been integral to me in this process. He constantly challenges me with questions that make me critically think about the way I perceive music education.

This summer, I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to do research on songwriting and identity and teach at an international school in China funded by the JMU Honors College Hillcrest Scholarship. You can find out more information about that in this video.

In addition to my musical activities, I am a small group leader in JMU’s chapter of InterVarsity. I co-lead a wonderful group of women called “The Crockpot” and they teach me how to walk in maturity and pursue the Lord each and every day.

Once I graduate, I plan to teach music overseas in East Asia with a mission organization for at least three years. I believe I have been privileged with a fantastic education and desire to share music with others who may not get the opportunity otherwise overseas.

I want to thank the wonderful MUED faculty, Dr. Beth Chandler, and my friends for all the support they have given me during my time here at JMU. They are what make JMU home to me in a way I would have never expected my freshmen year.

Thanks for supporting the JMU School of Music!

Please click the buttons below to see the upcoming events in the School of Music and College of Visual & Performing Arts at JMU!

Created By
Sarah Macomber