Welcome to the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium! My name is Kristin Conrad, and I’m the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Music for All. I will be blogging throughout the week to keep you informed about the activities students will be participating in at Summer Symposium. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be in two places at once, although I wish I could since I would enjoy seeing everything happening at camp. But, I'll do my best to keep you in the loop throughout the week and help provide an insider’s look at the Symposium experience. You'll also see posts from other MFA staff members this week as they attend sessions and experience camp.
If you followed the Summer Symposium blog last year, you may remember that last year was my third year at camp as an MFA staff member. This is my fourth camp, and it’s so nice to be back on campus at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. This is the second year Summer Symposium has been held on the campus of Ball State University.
The MFA staff moved into our headquarters this past Wednesday, and we've been hard at work setting up and prepping for the week. The SWAG Team is also on site, working hard already to help make sure your children have a great experience. The SWAG Team plays a major role in the Summer Symposium, serving as counselors, staff assistants and role models to the 1,000+ student participants.
Even though I’ve been to camp before, I’m still always amazed that this is an all-volunteer group! Dedicated band directors, college students, graduate students, directors and others interested in music education volunteer their time – over a week out of their busy lives – to provide a positively life-changing experience for each and every student participant. But, it extends even beyond this. Every time I have encountered a SWAG this week, he or she has either offered to help me with something I was working on, asked how my day is going, or simply smiled and told me they’re here if I need anything. It’s that compassion, dedication, responsive attitude and friendliness that truly sets this amazing group apart from the crowd.
The Leadership Weekend Experience is now under way, and I spent most of my morning over at registration in Park Hall. SWAGs helped students register, passed out their notebooks with materials for the week and provided them with a namebadge. They also chatted with them about what they can expect this weekend. I snapped a few photos while milling around registration, and you can find them here.
After registration, it was time for the Leadership Weekend Experience Opening Session in Pruis Hall. All participants attended this session, and they heard from Norm Ruebling, Camp Director of the Music for All Summer Symposium; Eric Martin, Music for All's President and CEO; and the Camp Medical Team. Then Leadership Division Coordinator Fran Kick presented a session that provided helpful tips for the weekend (or week ahead for full week campers).
Music for All recently adopted a new vision, and President and CEO Eric Martin talked about this at the beginning of the Opening Session. Music for All’s vision is to be a catalyst to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment. MFA will use our resources to provide national programs that recognize and support music students' performance and success, offer music educator training and professional development, and deliver tools and resources to participants and their communities that will assist them in supporting music education by promoting awareness of music’s impact on student growth and achievement.
Martin discussed how student campers here at Symposium can help advance Music for All’s mission and vision by simply passing along the message that music education is important and telling their story. Tying in to Leadership Weekend, students can be effective leaders and help by acting as “foot soldiers” for music education by telling others about their own positive, musical experiences.
“I believe in music education. I believe in Music for All. I believe in you,” Martin said to close his speech. Powerful words. If you’re interested in learning more about Music for All’s “I Believe” advocacy awareness campaign, you can read more on our website. And, check out this video in which music educators, student musicians, conductors and composers share why they believe music education is so important.
Fran Kick began his session with the students by discussing the concept of rules versus expectations.
“We need to make sure that one of the expectations, in fact, traditions of Music for All, is an attitude of gratitude,” Kick said.
Kick encouraged students to “thank everyone you see” and tune in and pay attention to the clinicians and faculty they’ll hear throughout the week. He also encouraged students to “pay attention, respond appropriately and be involved in what’s going on.”
These are serious and important lessons, but Kick delivered this message in a way that was fun and engaging for the students, joking here and there and incorporating team-building exercises. He had the students laughing, listening and also paying close attention to these important leadership lessons.
I left thinking about the concept of “actions speaking louder than words.” Kick told a story about students in a college lecture hall. Picture your typical college lecture hall, and then also picture it littered with trash left over from a class. Papers on the floor, empty soda cans, etc. As students attending the next class in the hall file in, most simply take their seats and go about their own personal business. But, one person begins picking up trash in his area and then sits back down. Immediately, others follow suit and do the same, cleaning up near their respective areas. Were any verbal instructions given? No. Actions speak louder than words. A simple, easy gesture from one student led to action from several others. Interesting.
Attitude really is everything, and I was reminded of that as well. As Kick discussed that “you get what you give,” I was reminded of a quote from John Horn that I truly love. “Anyone can be cranky or unkind or mediocre. Being positive and kind and excellent takes a lot more discipline and power."
At times when I’m feeling tired and unwilling to give any more of myself, I try to remind myself of this quote. I’m, admittedly, not perfect and sometimes forget this. But, it’s a quote that has stuck with me, and Kick’s session reminded me of this concept.
Leadership Weekend continues tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!