Times of crisis have benefits that, although unnoticed at the time, show their value long after things return to “normal.” As economic suppport of school music programs faces challenges, it is absolutely incredible how music teachers face the future boldy. I recently attended the Idaho Music Educator Association Conference held in Nampa. Despite budget problems, music teachers from all over Idaho came together for three days of clinics, sessions and concerts, and a chance to network with colleagues, thought leaders and supporters from the music industry such as Pepper.
For those of you who haven’t attended a music education conference in a while, allow me to share a snapshot of what happens there. I’ll start with the floor of the convention hall. While this might look like a self-serving storefront for most companies, it’s so much more than that. The convention floor is where teachers and industry people connect directly, without barriers. It’s where teachers have a direct voice in saying what kind of support they need in music publishing, manufacturing, fundraising and many types of music support industries. In return, vendors have a chance to show what they’ve developed to meet educational needs. Both parties listen and learn much at this gathering spot, and this interaction shapes future resources being developed to support music education.
We take great pride in the look and design of our convention booth. It needs to be a conversation-starter, a portable piazza. My Pepper booth was an indispensable way station where people would stop after attending clinics. There were brightly colored Teaching Music through Performance books sharing table space with Peter Boonshaft’s famous tomes. New concert band music occupied the corner and rounding out the display were fingering charts, how-to manuals, and various other books written for and by music teachers. I particularly liked I Know Sousa, Not Sopranos, a Russell Robinson book that young band directors might need when looking for their first music teacher gig.
The conference sessions were informative and highly entertaining, with band, choral, and orchestral topics as well as practical offerings for teachers of elementary through high school music. Henry Leck from Butler University gave two dynamic sessions based on his book and his DVD, Creating Artistry Through Choral Excellence and Creating Artistry Through Movement, respectively. I was happy to hear positive reviews of An Orff Ensemble with Caribbean Steel Drums, hosted by Anita Edwards. It wouldn’t be a music conference without a diverse range of musical flavors!
The venerable Dr. Peter Boonshaft dropped by on Friday after a day of honor band rehearsals to say hello and sign a few of his books, namely, Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music With Promise. Peter is a renaissance musical thinker to whom I’d rather just listen and not say a word in response. He’s the conductor everybody wishes they had as a music major. His abilities as a storyteller are astounding… it’s no wonder that he is so busy attending conferences around the country!
As the conference wrapped up on Saturday and I was anxious to head home, I couldn’t help but feel tremendous pride for being involved with this event. Not only did I feel we brought value to the event, but I learned much from the teachers there, and was touched by those who expressed personally their thanks for our company’s support of them. This IMEA Conference happens once every two years, and I am already looking forward to the next one!