Courtney Cater awarded Kaufman Scholarship

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Courtney Cater

The late Mrs. Lois Kaufman’s instrument collection is now installed and enriching courses in the music department at Mississippi State University, thanks to collaboration between Dr. Robert J. Damm, professor of music, and David Nolen, professor and associate editor/reference librarian with the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. Kaufman’s instrument collection was housed in the Mitchell Memorial library when Kaufman donated them for display in 1996 until it was stored in the library’s Special Collection archives before the move to the new music building this year. Mrs. Lois Kaufman was the first music teacher at MSU, teaching music appreciation and music theory in the 1950s. Her loyalty to both this university and department can be seen even now through her donation, although Mrs. Kaufman passed away in 2003. The Kaufman Collection includes both a large and small sitar, an Indian violin called a sarangi, an Indian flute, two wooden kalimbas and one gourd kalimba, a Chinese mandolin, three triangles, three bamboo flutes, and and a wooden drum. Since their move to the music building, they have been useful in Dr. Damm’s courses as he takes them out of their glass case, also provided by Kaufman’s donated funds, and brings life to his world music classes with their sounds.  “The Kaufman Collection is a valuable source for lessons about world music,” Dr. Damm said. “The students read about and watch videos to understand music in cultural context, but it is especially valuable to have them interact directly with cultural artifacts.  These instruments will provide hands-on experience during workshops by visiting culture-bearers, which will enhance knowledge and appreciation of diverse music genres of Africa and India.”  Aside from the donation of instruments and funds for the glass case to store and display them in, Mrs. Kaufman made a gift to the Department of Music Education in the amount of $15,000 in memory of her late husband, Dr. Harold F. Kaufman. This gift endowed a fund to support scholarships, programs, and activities associated with music of world cultures. The scholarship is given based on approval of application for the candidate who meets the qualifications: a full-time music education major at MSU, a rising senior with at least 90 credit hours toward their degree, minimum 3.0 GPA on all music and music education courses and demonstrate their commitment to multi-cultural ideas by completing a special project. All these qualifications were met this year by senior music education major and music culture minor Courtney Cater, who believes in the importance of appreciating other cultures, and that it can allow someone to have more dynamic and interesting experiences in life. Courtney Cater has been remarkably dedicated to learning about world music and especially Native American history, culture, and music.  She completed the Native American Music course last spring and regularly attends Native American powwows and festivals in the region.  As a clarinet student in the studio of Ms. Sheri Falcone, Courtney independently prepared Mary Youngblood’s “Beneath the Raven Moon” composition for Native American cedar flute, which she performed in recital for the MSU Music Department last month. Cater shared her appreciation for the scholarship: “This donation is very much appreciated by my family and me.  I thank Dr. Damm for awarding me the Kaufman scholarship and encouraging me to work harder in studying music cultures around us. I am excited to have received this wonderful scholarship and look forward to showcasing more music of world cultures in the music department.”  Dr. Damm expressed immense gratitude for the donations from Mrs. Kaufman and believes that both the instruments and scholarships will continue to enrich the experiences of students in music majors for years to come. [story and photo by Lydia Palmer, MSU College of Education]

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