Students from the Keene State College chapters of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) held their annual Welcome Back Picnic on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Redfern Arts Center Portico. The picnic, which is a joint effort between the two organizations, attracted more than 20 music students who said they enjoyed an afternoon of food, games and music.

Sarah Stagg, a first-year music education major, ACDA member and secretary for NAfME, attended the picnic to connect with other members of the organizations.

“As the secretary of NAfME, I came to help set up, get to know more people in the music department and see my friends who are also here. It’s a cool group of people, and it’s nice to have a chance to hang out, outside the context of our music studies,” said Stagg. Junior music performance major and ACDA Vice President James Slipp said events such as the picnic help bring the community together.

“We host a lot of events like this throughout the year, and that brings a sense of community to the department,” Slipp said. “It’s a great way for people to make new friends, meet people in the department and just hang out.”

Senior and ACDA president Elise Lowe said she encourages all music majors to join both organizations.

“My advice to incoming freshmen interested in music would be to stay open to new things. The music major is very intense timewise, but it’s important to find things you’re interested in and enjoy,” Lowe said. “Even though the time commitment can be intimidating, both ACDA and NAfME are a fun way to meet new people, see how the music department works and get to know how things are done in the department.”

ACDA is preparing for the upcoming annual Cantate! High School Choral Festival, an event where visiting high school choirs will have the opportunity to perform at the Redfern Arts Center. The event will be held on Friday, Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

NAfME President Marley Sandman said NAfME has allowed members to make connections to help with future career opportunities. “NAfME offers members a variety of career development opportunities, as well as networking opportunities,” Sandman said. “It’s very helpful to be able to go to some of the conferences, talk to other music educators and get out into the field to see what it’s like before we’re actually out there teaching.” NAfME is currently preparing for their Wellness Month celebration in November.

“We are going to be gearing it towards musicians and mental health. As we know, with the pandemic we’ve been diving into mental health, and how it affects the community,” said Sandman. “We’ll have guest presenters, and it will be a good time.”

Ryan Pacheco can be contacted at

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