When I received approval to attend the National ACDA Conference, I quickly booked my flight and began poring over the light blue magazine ACDA had released. I was determined to attend all the best sessions, and began planning my trip right away.
When my flight landed in Utah, I was sure my planning would pay off. My focus was on music education. How can I teach certain techniques better? What kind of repertoire am I unfamiliar with? What is out there that I do not know exists? These were among the questions I was determined to answer as I was exploring my conference path through interest sessions, concerts, and quick coffee runs. I was eager to learn helpful tricks and tools from experts in the field, and was sure my schedule of sessions and concerts would give me some answers. In the end, what I ended up taking away from this conference is worth so much more than anything I could have planned.
After arriving at the conference center, I was thrilled by how close everything was. The proximity of each session and concert allowed attendees to maximize their time at the conference. Instead of worrying about getting to the next place on time, I was able to arrive early to each session. This gave me the opportunity to speak with different musicians who were also devoted to music education. For instance, at a middle school reading session, I met a woman from Utah who just began her work as a middle school music teacher this year. At an afternoon concert, I met an educator who is also an editor for an educational magazine. Even on my way to get coffee, I met a graduate composition student from Indiana University who was eager to share some of his work. It was incredibly interesting to speak to each of these people. More impressive, I think, is how so many people came from so many different situations in pursuit of the same thing: new, exciting ways to experience music.
By attending many different interest sessions, I was introduced to new concepts that I am looking forward to using in my own classroom. At an interest session focused on group-singing, I experienced how easy it can be to lead an informal, improvised jam session. While singing in a Kodály-focused interest session, I explored a new method of approaching folk music in a choral setting. In a movement-focused session, I looked at how movement is used in 21st century choral music, and what this means for choral music as an art. In total, was able to attend 18 diverse and insightful sessions.
Through these sessions, I learned many invaluable ideas which I plan to use in my everyday teaching. In the end, however, there is one more thing I took away from this conference which is perhaps more valuable than all of these sessions combined.
I saw performances of all kinds. Ensembles comprised of musicians who were extraordinarily different from one another came together to perform in this conference. For me, seeing this unity in choral music across so many different domains was a representation of what music can and should be: a method of communication that forgoes all boundaries. Watching all of these wonderful ensembles come together for one common purpose was incredible. And for that purpose to be something as pure and beautiful as music, is the most striking thing I experienced on that trip.
I walked away from this conference with answers to my questions, new contacts from all over the country, and most importantly, a renewed sense of excitement and purpose for something I believe in so deeply.
You can count on seeing me in Minneapolis!