Arris Golden understands the importance of connections amongst the music education community and has ideas of how to strengthen it even more.
Golden is the current Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.. Although she has been successful in music education for many years, she first received a poli-sci degree from UNC Chapel Hill.
Golden attributes her decision to go into music education to her band director at UNC Chapel Hill.
“There was that linchpin moment that we all have when a new director showed up and a lot of us went... ‘Guess we're going to be doing more school.’” Golden stated. “He was that inspiring; he was that much of a difference maker.”
After another four years of school, she decided to use her music education degree and become a middle school band director in Cary, NC. “No one goes into it expecting to be super rich,” Golden said. “And you know, you discover after you get involved in music and the right people come into your life that it is just another version of being super rich.”
During her 18 years as a middle school band director, Golden decided she was interested in studying conducting. She attended multiple workshops and symposiums in hopes of bettering her conducting skills. One of the best events she has ever attended for conducting included Dr. Kevin Sedatole, who she connected with and, as a result, ended up attending Michigan State University in 2014 for her Doctor of Music Arts in Wind Conducting. After finishing her coursework in 2016, Golden accepted a position at UNC as Interim Assistant Director of University Bands and then was appointed the job for the following academic school year, full-time.
Golden attributes a lot of her opportunities and success to the connections she has developed. “You just have to put yourself in a place and be at a level where you can take advantage of the things that happen around you and for you, and be able to recognize those,” Golden said. She is a firm believer in working collaboratively with those in the music education field, and learning from their successes and failures.
“I have a really close knit group of friends in North Carolina, especially where I taught for all those years and we all just like to help each other.” She stated. “We like to go to each other's band rooms, we like to go to each other's rehearsals and just talk about music, and talk about how to make the students more involved.”
Golden continues to help others and take advice from music educators as well. “I hope that because I've been able to do so many things throughout my career - I'm African American and female, at the collegiate level, and conducting bands now, that I serve as an example you can do this. If you do the things that are required to go into the profession you, female or African American, can be successful,” Golden said. Even though she believes that music education is a well-connected profession overall, Golden wishes to
find ways to share more information, because everyone has something to share.
After becoming a moderator of the band director group on Facebook, Golden saw just how impactful words from fellow music educator colleagues could be. She still thinks there could be more helpfulness and positivity on the page, along with more willingness to take constructive criticism and suggestions. “One of the biggest things is to take more advantage of the people around you that are willing to help you and know more than you do,” Golden said.
Her hope is to see more members participating in the Facebook group in the future.