This past weekend, I attended and presented at the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Music Education Conference at the University of Maryland. This is always a great gathering, and the University of Maryland music education department put on an amazing conference! I presented my recent study comparing perceptions of professional skills, abilities, and job satisfaction of studio and K-12 music teachers by analyzing variables from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) survey. It was such a pleasure to see all the great work done at the other Big Ten universities and to meet so many great people!
This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Association for Popular Music Education National Conference, held at the Berklee College of Music in beautiful Boston. This was a really amazing conference – in addition to be incredibly well run, the organization is doing incredible work in helping to bring popular music into the classroom as an equal partner alongside all other forms of music. I firmly believe that, as educators, we need to embrace all forms of music if we hope to reach all students, and popular music can help us to reach students who might otherwise slip through the cracks. Personally, I was a teenage punk/grunge/rock guitarist and music lover long before I became a classical musician, so popular music has always been a big part of my life. I hope to continue sharing my love of both classical and non-classical music throughout my career, and APME is a great venue to do so!
At the conference, I spoke about my experiences with and strategies for introducing informal music pedagogy into the curriculum of preservice music teacher education. For the past several years, in my methods courses for preservice teachers, I have introduced Lucy Green’s work (specifically drawn from Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy, which is an amazing book that I think all teachers should read!), provided performance opportunities and class time for performing student-chosen music in small groups, and allowed the students the free space to explore learning this music with minimal intervention. The students express great enthusiasm for choosing their own music, and often pick popular music they love (recently, it’s been as diverse as Lady Gaga, John Mayer, and Coldplay in the same performance). In addition to expressing their enjoyment of learning this music, my students often work far beyond the course requirements to stage elaborate performances (choreography, anyone?). This enthusiasm also shows them how this approach might help them to connect with their own future students and the music they love. As a teacher-educator, I want teachers to feel comfortable incorporating authentic music learning through popular music into their classrooms – Lucy Green provides an excellent model for doing so!
I met many amazing musicians, educators, and popular music advocates at this conference, and heard some really incredible concerts – if you aren’t already a member of APME, I highly recommend becoming one!
The NASA conference ended a few hours ago, since which I have been enjoying the beautiful Texas weather, spending time with (old and new!) friends, and reflecting on the many fantastic and inspiring performances I witnessed in the past few days. Despite the absolute exhaustion I feel at the end, I always leave NASA conferences feeling inspired to pursue ever higher levels of musicianship. I am forever grateful to be a member of such a dynamic and passionate community of musicians.
For my part, in this event, I had the privilege of premiering Jay Batzner’s Abstain Red Hells for soprano saxophone and electronics this morning, in a recital with some excellent performers. Yesterday, Myles Boothroyd and I gave a presentation on the Saxophone Symposium, which I hope will inspire our community to write scholarly articles about our wonderful instrument.
In terms of the concerts I attended, there were far too many incredible moments to list here, but some of those that stand out in my mind are the musically sensitive and technically masterful performances by my friends in the Kenari Quartet and Barkada Quartet. You should absolutely check them out if you haven’t heard them!
The photo here (which is the only one I got all weekend that I’m actually in!) is with my friend and former UWO classmate, Gerard Spicer – it’s always great to reconnect with saxophone friends! I’m off to Atlanta for NAfME tomorrow morning, exhausted but happy!
It’s going to be a very busy week and a half for me! Immediately following the NASA Biennial in Lubbock, I will be flying to Atlanta to present at the National Association for Music Education Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference. This will be my very first NAfME national conference, so I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things! I will be presenting an ongoing research project entitled, “Designing instruction on practicing: A pilot test of a micro-analytic self-regulation intervention,” with Dr. Peter Miksza, Nicholas Roseth, and Stephanie Cole for the Instructional Strategies SRIG session at this conference. In addition, Nick and I will be presenting our action research project, “The Use of Problem-Based Learning in a Woodwind Methods Course: An Action Research Study” at one of the Poster Sessions. It’s going to be a crazy, productive spring break – I’m looking forward to it!
I will be traveling to Lubbock, Texas this Thursday to perform and present at the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to reconnect with the saxophone community! I will be performing the premiere of Jay Batzner’s Abstain Red Hells for soprano saxophone and electronics on Sunday morning, and giving a presentation with Myles Boothroyd about publishing with The Saxophone Symposium on Saturday morning. It should be a busy and fun conference – I’m looking forward to catching up with some great friends and hearing some incredible playing!
From Jay about the piece: “Abstain Red Hells juxtaposes lyricism in the saxophone part with less lyrical sounds in the electronics, and is the most recent in a series of works for soloist and electronics. A lot of my writing for winds and electronics have been against most of the stereotypes. My goal is to create music which is musically and emotionally approachable, that uses electronics to connect performers and listeners. I want to make the electronics simple and approachable for the performer so that they are more likely to play works with electronics. This particular piece is an extension of this mission.” I’ve been really enjoying practicing this piece and I look forward to sharing it!
Today, I had the privilege of presenting at the Ontario Music Educators’ Conference for the second year in a row. In addition to a poster presentation and mini talk about my master’s thesis, “Pedagogical Practices of Successful Applied Studio Instructors,” I presented a session with my colleagues Anne Mileski and Nick Roseth, entitled “Take Action! Strategies for Applying Action Research in the Music Classroom.” Both sessions included lively discussion and great questions from the participants, and I had a great time presenting. I’ve also gotten to catch up with colleagues and friends from my time at Western – I always feel so grateful to participate in this lively music education community!
It was an absolute pleasure to attend and present at the Canadian Music Educators’ Association‘s first national conference in twenty years. The conference was very well organized, I was able to attend a number of informative sessions (including several with Frank Ticheli!), and I heard some truly inspiring music making. The music teachers of Manitoba and Western Canada are doing excellent work!
In this photo, attendees in my workshop are checking out some less-than-ideal reeds for defects. This was an especially lively and curious bunch of teachers, which made them a lot of fun to work with – I’m glad to have been able to share what I know with some already excellent educators!
Next week, I will be travelling to the University of Oklahoma to perform at the North American Saxophone Alliance’s 2015 Region IV Conference. I will be premiering Mike Romaniak‘s nobody on my side for soprano saxophone and fixed media. This piece is based on a song Mike and I frequently listened to while completing our masters degrees at Central Michigan University: Roads by the British band Portishead. If you’ve never heard of them, be sure to check them out!
Mike and I collaborated very closely on this piece, including email correspondence, Skype conversations, and direct in person workshopping of sections of the piece. A number of Toronto musicians participated in creating the electro-acoustic component of this work, which represents a unique collaborative performance between live and recorded musicians that crosses international boundaries. I am very excited to be able to share it with the saxophone community! Also, this will be my first trip to a Region IV conference, so I am very much looking forward to meeting and listening to the saxophone community there!
I have a very exciting week of saxophone teaching and playing ahead! On Thursday, November 6th, I will be at my alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, where I am presenting a short performance (Including Andrew Cote‘s Sonata for Prepared Alto Saxophone) and a masterclass for Bobbi Thompson’s saxophone studio. It is a distinct privilege to get to ‘go home’ to Western as an alumnus and see all the great things happening there. My sincere, unending thanks to Bobbi, both for the invitation to teach and for her incredible support throughout my education, career, and life generally!
On Friday, I will present a clinic entitled Troubleshooting and Fixes for Beginning Saxophonists at the Ontario Music Educator’s Association Soundscapes Conference. I have attended many OMEA conferences as a student, and I am deeply honoured to have the opportunity to share my knowledge with the music education community at large. I look forward to seeing old friends (including the CMU wind ensemble, by happy coincidence!) and learning new things. I always OMEA events feeling energized and inspired- to say I’m looking forward to it would be a major understatement!
My doctorate starts this Monday at the Jacobs School of Music, and I couldn’t be more excited! After a week of intensive entrance exams, orientation, and department meetings, I can see that my career at IU will be both extremely challenging and rewarding. I am beyond excited to be a part of this brilliant musical community, and I look forward to all of the projects I’ll be able to get myself into here!