Music for All remains committed to providing educational resources and professional development tools in support of music in our schools and our communities. Our most recent program was the Directors’ Academy at the Music for All National Festival, a three-day professional development conference for directors and music education majors. Held in Indianapolis during the Music for All National Festival from March 9-11, the 2017 Directors’ Academy offered an unparalleled opportunity for colleagues to share best practices focused on our grand profession.
We kicked off the event with Thursday afternoon’s Opening Session delivered by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser to a room of over 2,300 students, parents, and educators. Over the course of three days, attendees had access to the full scope of the Music for All National Festival featuring more than 50 concerts of wind bands, orchestras, percussion ensembles, and chamber music as well as rehearsal and ensemble clinic sessions given by some of the most well-respected musicians in our field.
One of my favorite aspects was observing the student Master Class sessions, broken out into specialized instrumentation and led by Yamaha Performing Artists and members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Witnessing the young musicians learn from these dedicated and professional musicians was very inspiring!
The most special part of the experience was having the opportunity to sit down in an intimate setting and learn from the icons of music education in our Directors’ Academy classes. Hosted by Richard Crain (Retired Director of Music; Spring Independent School District, TX) this year’s attendees gained valuable insight into the past and future of music education through the lens of four passionate educators.
Gary Green (Professor Emeritus; University of Miami, FL) shared his thoughts on the importance of being a music educator. It’s not just about teaching notes and rhythms, but more importantly making music and sharing the process with others.
Craig Kirchhoff (Director Emeritus; University of Minnesota) asked for us to consider whether or not our conducting is helping or hurting our ensemble. Kirchhoff also shared his personal viewpoint on selecting repertoire. It’s not about choosing pieces to play, but rather defining a curriculum and our beliefs about what music education should be for our students.
H. Robert Reynolds (Principal Conductor, Wind Ensemble at University of Southern California) discussed the use of batons and shared what he personally uses. Learning by listening and watching others that you respect was one of Reynolds’ themes. Look for those that use expressive conducting. Chances are the ensemble will want to match that level of expressiveness.
Anthony Maiello (Professor of Music, George Mason University) shared practical ways to develop confidence and security with the technical aspects of conducting, but also encouraged us and offered suggestions on how to move beyond technique to create emotionally engaging music with your ensemble.
This year’s attendees were inspired and rejuvenated, and reminded us WHY they teach music. If you missed out this year, it is my hope that you might consider joining us next year from March 15-17, 2018, to take part in this inspirational showcase of mission-oriented music educators who are committed to excellence.