WHEN ASHLEY DELANEY visited TWU to check out its music education programs, she fell in love with the graduate curriculum — and eventually a student pianist she met that day. There, in the office of Professor and Music Education Coordinator Vicki Baker, she first met Nathan Dame ’11. 

“He was sitting on her piano bench as they wrapped up his individual instrument training,” Ashley recalls. 

She decided to enroll, because the flexible course options allowed her to balance her day job with her graduate preparation. “It’s an attractive program for practicing educators,” she says. But the best part was the hands-on training with real music teachers.

After Ashley graduated in 2012, she and Nathan stayed in touch, even as he pursued a Ph.D. in Kansas.

“We love music, so we mailed each other CD mixes,” Nathan said.

Today the two are not only married, but also fellow choir directors at Wylie East High School in Wylie, Texas.

Under the Dames’ watch, the school’s choir program has tripled in size to 320 students, and both directors have won multiple awards. Ashley won the 2021 Texas Choral Directors Association Innovative Programming Award, and Nathan was named one of Yamaha’s Top 40 Under 40 Music Educators in the United States in 2022.

Both credit TWU with their success. “TWU’s program was so practical. You could easily take what you learned and apply it in the classroom the next day and witness a positive impact on the kids,” Nathan said.

“TWU wasn’t just the place that we met,” says Ashley. “It was the place that trained us to be the music educators we are today.”