Joan Therens has made a distinguished contribution to music education world-wide through her unique services to members of the International Society for Music Education.
When Joan Therens attended her first ISME conference in 1990 she brought with her a wide experience of music education: her roots lie in the real worlds of the classroom music teacher and the community musician. Her talents and her integrity had already been recognised locally, regionally and nationally in Canada, where she had served her colleagues as President of the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association, Chair of the Canadian Music Educators' National Conference in Saskatoon, and Board Member and President of CMEA from 1989 to 1991. In this last role she established a consensus between various music-educational organisations in Canada that CMEA should become the Affiliated National Organisation for Canada in ISME.
At her first ISME Conference Joan was elected to the Board, and two years later she was appointed Secretary General of ISME, a position she held for nine and a half years. During that time she has worked with five ISME Presidents from five different continents: Yasuharu Takahagi (1992-94), Lupwishi Mbuyamba (1994-96), Ana Lucia Frega (1996-98), Einar Solbu (1998-2000), and John Drummond (2000-2002). That she survived the unique perspectives of all five is a tribute both to her integrity and to her sense of humour, and proof that Joan possesses the skills of an international negotiator, the wisdom of the ancients, and the patience of Job.
As Secretary General it was Joan's responsibility to co-ordinate the administration of the Society, which during most of her time was carried out partly from her own office in Regina, Canada, and partly from the International Office in Reading, UK where Elizabeth Smith was acting administrator until 2000. Toward the end of her period of service, Joan also worked with the ISME Office in Utrecht, the Netherlands staffed by Willem Wijgers and Barbara Zanders. Finally, Joan has worked closely with Judy Thonell as she has taken on the role of Secretary General and the International Office has been relocated to Perth in Australia.
A central aspect of the Secretary General's duty is to work with ISME conference organisers and commission chairs and members in order to co-ordinate their endeavours with those of the Board of Directors. Joan has worked with conference organisers for Tampa (1994), Amsterdam (1996), Pretoria (1998), and Edmonton (2000). It was on her initiative that all Commissions - Chairs and Commission Members - met at the 1996 Conference to review the commissions' work and develop a new commission policy which was later approved by the Board. In 1990 she herself organized the Seminar for the Commission in Music in Special Education, Music Therapy and Music Medicine.
Joan has played a pivotal role in organising, writing and keeping up to date ISME's policies and procedures, essential work in an organisation whose leadership changes every two years or so. She has served as an active member of many ISME Committees, dealing with such matters as Constitution Revision, Conferences, Advocacy, and the ISME 50th Anniversary, and has played a role as an advisor or ad hoc member of many other committees, including the Musics of the World's Cultures group. She has prepared and helped design effective documents and leaflets to promote ISME, instigated and edited the first ISME Newsletters in 1996, produced our latest Policy brochure incorporating both the ISME Declaration of Beliefs and the ISME Policy on Musics of the World's Cultures, organized the first Display and Sharing Session for Affiliated National Organisations held in Edmonton 2000, co-written a guide to Seminar Organisation, and proposed to the Board successful projects such as the ISME Sponsorship Programme and IJME Guest Editors. All this has been in addition to the day-by-day tasks of dealing with correspondence, supporting the work of the Board, and managing those five Presidents.
In her capacity as Secretary General Joan has represented the Society on many occasions. In the mid 90's, she was a member of the IMC/UNESCO Committee on Education in the 21st Century, and represented ISME at the 1995 IMC General Assembly in Seoul. There she re-established a close relationship between ISME and the IMC, one which continues. She researched and prepared ISME's successful nomination in 1998 of the Khongisa Music School in South Africa for the IMC Music Prize.
Joan has given ISME ten years of wonderful service. No one in that time has been more dedicated to international music education and its goals, more thorough in carrying out the duties of office, more friendly and respectful and helpful to everyone, or more dedicated to the health, well-being and development of ISME.