Sophomore Emily Slaton Published in Music Educator’s Journal

September 14, 2012

Emily Slaton never had much luck with writing. However, that was before she came to Texas Lutheran University. The sophomore music education major discovered she actually enjoys writing, especially about topics close to her heart. Slaton’s paper, “Music Education Budget Crisis,” is featured in the September 2012 issue of Music Educator’s Journal. She credits Composition Professor Beth Barry and her Write To Serve curriculum as the driving force behind her newfound appreciation for the written word.

“Being able to write about something relevant to my life allowed me to discover more about myself,” Slaton said. “Every teacher I had before told me to write for a specific exam or test. No one asked what I wanted to write about until Professor Barry. In her class, I found my voice as writer. This paper is who I am.”

Written as part of her Freshmen Composition course, Slaton’s piece focuses on budget cuts in music education and how students are losing quality programs as well as the benefits of music courses. Her article is also the first in the new column, Collegiate Connections.

While Barry is definitely proud of her former student, she continues to emphasize the importance of discovering oneself through writing.

“I want my students to think about writing opportunities, not writing assignments,” Barry said. “Submitting your paper for publication isn’t a requirement in my class; however, I want students to know there are many forums for them to be heard. Emily has done some really great work and I hope she’s proud of herself. Her success lets me know we're on the right track and there is something to be gained from Write To Serve.”

Slaton admits that while the assignment was no easy task, she now understands the value and individual gains from writing with passion.

“I drank tons of coffee and spent hours editing,” Slaton said. “Some days, I would write several pages and others I would stare at a blank screen. At first I was unsure of myself but it all slowly started coming to me. I was writing about music education, which I’m very passionate about, and I was talking to educators in the field. My writing was telling the stories of real teachers and that meant something.”

Barry says all authors experience some form of suffering as part of their adventure in writing and those words usually come from the heart. She wants her freshmen to realize their potential by writing about what interests them.

“Many students at the college level think there are good writers and bad writers - if they lack confidence, they're apt to think they'll never improve,” she said. “The key is just getting them to write about what matters to them. At the end of my class, if they see a difference and have found out how they want to grow as writers, they’ll continue to become better. That’s what I want for them.”

As she continues her education at TLU, Slaton says she might submit her writing again in the future, possibly after gaining some teaching experience.

“That’s another voice I will find,” she said. “Having that perspective will allow me to write as an educator. Having this article published gave me confidence as a writer and will remind me that I have a voice and I can be heard.”

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