Letter to Members

September 30, 2019

Dear OAKE Members,

The OAKE Board of Directors meets in person twice per year and recently gathered in Denver for our annual fall board meetings September 19-22, 2019. OAKE Board meetings are an opportunity to conduct official OAKE business and for many committees to review and plan the work within their purview. This year also included a review of goals that have guided OAKE over the last several years and consideration of the focus going forward. A foundation for these discussions includes a concern for equity within the organization, and we’d like to update you on this area, specifically.

The OAKE Board of Directors believe that systemic progress will benefit our members through inclusive leadership, governance, and professional development throughout all levels of the organization. During our annual Summer Retreat in June and July, the Executive Committee developed a list of possible immediate and long-term goals/actions to advance equity in the Kodály approach to music education and within governance of OAKE and affiliate chapters. We’ll discuss some of those later in this letter. These possible action items were presented to our Board of Directors and the OAKE Inclusion & Diversity Committee on September 21st, 2019.

OAKE cares deeply about inclusive practices and has pinpointed two initial areas to address quickly: Establishing a proactive process for equity education, and a feedback protocol for workshops, conferences, and teacher training programs. These will be followed by additional actions that will be developed through input from members and equity experts, leading to actions over a longer span of time.

It is imperative that an individual can communicate their feedback regarding their experiences with OAKE and affiliate chapters and divisions, as well as OAKE-associated teacher training programs. We are working on an efficient system that will: be realistic to implement, follow our rules of governance, and preserve privacy for all involved. Through collaborative work, OAKE will implement training and provide resources for inclusive language and practices. OAKE’s goal is to create information & training for leaders, and an official protocol and procedure for giving feedback that the board can approve after thoughtful consideration. OAKE trusts its leaders, presenters, and teachers in our chapters, divisions, and national conferences to honor our values.

The Inclusion & Diversity Committee is meeting weekly to discuss systemic evolution and to make recommendations to the OAKE Board in order to influence OAKE’s progress toward equity. The OAKE Board of Directors is receiving input from a range of perspectives which include people from historically marginalized identities. The Inclusion & Diversity Committee will identify and share best practices in culturally responsive and inclusive teaching.

These initial steps are currently in the formative stage. According to the OAKE bylaws, the timeline for electronic meetings spans a minimum of two weeks. This work may take more than one vote of approval by the OAKE Board. I will be updating you again at the end of October regarding further progress.


Ann Leffard, OAKE President

September 4th, 2019

Dear OAKE Community,

The OAKE Executive Committee and Board of Directors are currently involved in a learning experience that challenges our mission and values. OAKE has been assisting a Chapter and the attendees following a workshop in Fall 2018. We received allegations that microaggressions occurred during chapter activities. We have dedicated considerable attention and resources to the issue with the goal of reconciliation and growth, but due to a number of factors, the process has taken longer than we anticipated. Our intention going forward is to keep all involved parties apprised of the process. We value the contributions of all stakeholders in our organization and are sorry that people have felt marginalized.

Since January the focus of the OAKE Executive Committee has been:

  • Seeking to understand and respond to the concerns of attendees and chapter members
  • Considering how OAKE will actively address equity in the Kodály approach within music education
  • Considering how OAKE will actively address equity within OAKE, Chapter, and Division governance

Brief Summary of OAKE’s Actions:

  • Received five attendees’ concerns and began support
  • Held conversations with chapter members and concerned attendees
  • Sought restoration for those involved
  • Allocated financial resources to support the restorative healing process
  • Provided professional mediation and advice
  • Vetted multiple equity specialists
  • Enlisted the services of an equity specialist for restorative and reflective work, which is ongoing
  • Developed and approved OAKE’s Commitment to Equity, with the assistance of the OAKE Inclusion & Diversity Committee (below)

OAKE’s Commitment to Equity
The members of OAKE are committed to championing diversity, welcoming all people, and advancing inclusivity and equity for all. Inspired by Zoltán Kodály’s unyielding assertion that music belongs to everyone, we affirm that music is a fundamental aspect of shared human experiences. As such, we pledge to promote active music making merged with intentionally respectful practices as the basis of comprehensive music education.

We affirm our commitment to the work of healing and policy change. Presenters at OAKE professional development workshops are independent contractors, and as such, OAKE and its affiliate chapters are not responsible for the actions of independent contractors. However, we want to be proactive and clearly communicate our values and expectations in future chapter and national events. The Executive Committee addressed these very items as they began crafting the new OAKE 2019-2024 Strategic Plan during June and July 2019. The work continues, and will be further developed at the OAKE Board of Directors Fall Board Meeting in September 2019.

We will soon share with membership the action steps being considered by the board to systemically address equity. We will request the involvement of membership to impact OAKE, divisions, chapters, and members as we all navigate our own life’s work in music education. Although we are physically separated by miles, we are emotionally joined by love for our organization, the future of our organization, and the future of music education.


Ann Leffard, OAKE President