An Inspiring Professional Adventure! Johanne Ray-Hepp
Music Education is such a dynamic and ever-changing world! Attending conferences is an excellent way to stay up on the latest research and techniques. Having attended the Michigan Music Conference held in Grand Rapids in January for many years, I was excited for the opportunity to attend Music Education Week, June 24th
-- 28th in Arlington, Virginia. The biggest
difference between the two was the format. While in Michigan there are many options for sessions held basically every hour, the National Conference is set up in two-day academies, a comprehensive approach that immerses attendees in the subject matter. I attended the Marching Music Academy and the Music Supervisors’ Academy. It was fantastic to have so much time to explore a topic in depth; however, the disadvantage was not being able to attend concurrent academies.1
The Marching Music Academy was a very thorough approach to the pageantry arts. It began with explanation of the newly crafted National Standards for Marching Music, a joint venture with Drum Corps International (DCI). The three areas for these new Marching Music standards are: Music Standards, Health and Safety Standards, and Visual Standards.
The Marching Music Standards are undergoing an editing phase adapting to language that incorporates 21st
schools are adapting. This guide is published by the Partnership for 21st
Century Skills, a curriculum guide that many Century Skills (available at www.
). “MENC: The National Association for Music Education and other professional arts education organizations recently collaborated with the partnership to create an ‘arts skills map’ that illustrates how standards-based instruction in music and the other arts can teach 21st
-century skills” (Shuler 2011).
The skills map includes these four Cs: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration. Since the marching music ideology uses all four of these concepts, the terminology of the current Marching Music Standards will use these terms to lend greater curricular legitimacy to the standards.
1 In addition to these offerings, other options included General Music, Choral Music, Research, and Instrumental Music. Unfortunately, due to low registration numbers, five academies were cancelled: Jazz, IN-ovations, Composition, Arts integration, and Technology. MENC has committed to keeping the same format until 2014, and is asking members to be sure to let the organization know if they prefer the academies.
Discussions at the academy included the importance of maintaining tradition as well as accepting innovation and inspiration in design. The presenters included John Phillips, Gary Doherty, Gary Markham, Michael Cesario, Jay Kennedy, Ellis Hampton, Matt Winans, Brian Murphy, and Chad Pence. We were taught the entire process of putting together a show including scoring considerations and visual design. The possibilities are limitless in terms of creativity. Demonstrations of marching techniques by the staff and exemplary members of the Boston Crusaders, from Boston, MA helped to visualize concepts.
On Saturday, our experience expanded beyond the conference center and we were transported to the high school where the Boston Crusaders were rehearsing for the show that night. Shadowing their sectionals was a great experience on new methodology and refreshing ideas. We were also given the handbooks that clarify their marching style, as well as the handbooks they create for each instrument group. This would be a beneficial study tool for any high school ensemble. Judging sheets were explained to us, and we were able to meet with the judges before and after the competition. It was very enlightening to watch the competition through the lens of an adjudicator, learning about what they look for in such great detail. Other corps performing included the Crossmen from San Antonio, TX, The Spirit of Atlanta, GA, and the Madison Scouts, WI.
The Supervisors Academy was held on Sunday and Monday. The organization, formerly known as National Council of Supervisors of Music Education (NCSME) has been renamed to National Council of Music Program Leaders (NCMPL) in an effort to be more inclusive. Many districts have cut or reduced positions or consolidated them into all of Fine Arts. The position titles are as diverse as the arts they are entrusted to lead. The sessions included information on advocacy, 21st
Century Skills, and how significant music
curriculum is to the process. We were given much information on research, and the importance of data. Without data-driven proof of the difference music and the arts makes in our students, we put our arts at great risk of being cut. Another significant component was the concept of retention, including methodology for evaluation music educators. There were many opportunities for discussion and ideas came from supervisors of very large districts, all the way down to single schools. Presenters included Johanna Seibert, Elizabeth Sokolowski, Mark Propst, and Scott Shuler, MENC president.
MENC Music Education Week
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