BY EDWIN SMITH
May 8, 2014
Katie Shuford’s interest in the Kodály philosophy of music education has helped her land a 2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Award.
Shuford, a recent University of Mississippi graduate from Hickory, North Carolina, said she wanted to further her studies and experiences abroad, specifically in Hungary, beyond the typical semester. The Fulbright provides a perfect opportunity.
“When I learned that I had been chosen as a Fulbright recipient, I was stunned,” Shuford said. “I worked hard on the application, but I knew the competition was very steep. I am so honored and excited to begin this journey.”
Shuford leaves for Kecskemet, Hungary, in August and will remain there for a full academic year. She said she is looking forward to studying and working in another country, as well as forming and strengthening relationships with partners at the U.S. Embassy and Hungarian colleagues and friends.
Shuford will be a student in the institute’s Diploma Course. Her studies will include composer Zoltan Kodály’s educational philosophy, lectures about his life’s work, methodology, musicianship, folk music, voice, choir and piano.
“My research will also lead me to observe in local schools in Kecskemet,” she said. “I’ll be observing the use of technology, standards and assessment in Hungarian music classrooms and comparing what I find to observations of American music classrooms.”
“Katie certainly deserves this honor,” Spurgeon said. “As a freshman, she volunteered to work with the Oxford Children’s Chorus, which has helped develop her conducting skills. This year, she became their primary conductor, choosing repertoire and running rehearsals.
“Katie is not afraid of hard work. I know she will be very successful at the Kodaly Institute.”
She served as the guest director of the Oxford Children’s Choir for the 2013-2014 season after observing and assisting Andrew Paney, UM assistant professor of music and OCC director, for three years.
“Dr. Paney gave me the opportunity to take over the director responsibilities,” Shuford said. “Directing this choir has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my collegiate career. I am extremely grateful he recognized my love for working with children and encouraged me to take over.”
Shuford, who also received the Outstanding Undergraduate Vocal Music Education Award at the music department’s awards ceremony, found out she had gotten the Fulbright during the hectic time of completing her student teaching.
“I hope to leave the institute a more accomplished musician and confident teacher,” said Shuford, who graduates May 10 with a bachelor’s degree in music education as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. “I also hope to take away a love for Hungarian culture. I’ll be living in Kecskemet for nine months, which gives me the opportunity to get involved in the community and form lasting relationships with the people I meet.”
Upon her return, Shuford hopes to become an elementary school music teacher, where she will implement the Kodály philosophy while navigating the American desire for more standards, assessment and technology.
“My mother is an elementary music teacher and Kodály music educator,” said Shuford, who was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda as well as a UM choral scholarship and UM Patrons of Music scholarship recipient. “She teaches elementary school during the academic year, and spends her summers training music educators in the Kodály philosophy and methodology.
“She is so good at what she does and has been the perfect model for the kind of music teacher I want to be. I also plan to pursue graduate work with a concentration in the philosophy.”
Robert Riggs, chair and professor of music, agreed that Shuford deserves the award because her skills, patience and leadership experience will serve her students well.
“Throughout her undergraduate years, Katie Shuford has stood out as one of our most outstanding music majors because she possesses the rigorous discipline that serious study of music requires,” Riggs said. “The faculty and students of the music department are very proud that Katie has received this honor, and we are confident that she will make full use of this opportunity to help launch a distinguished career in music education.”
Shuford is the university’s 13th Fulbright U.S. Student Award winner since 2000. Last year, Ryan Ezelle won a Fulbright to serve as an English teaching assistant in the Dominican Republic.
“I could never have successfully applied for the Fulbright without the guidance and unrelenting support I have received from my professors, friends and family at Ole Miss,” said Shuford, the daughter of Larry and Karen Shuford. “Especially those in the SMBHC who have always encouraged us to investigate the world around us and have provided us with the knowledge to do so responsibly.”
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and those of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award are encouraged to contact Andrus Ashoo, the Fulbright Program adviser of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.