“Any great art work … revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world – the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”
― Leonard Bernstein
There are times in life that the stars seem to align, and we experience music making at a level that affects us. As educators, we are trained to spend much of our days looking for mistakes to correct… making it difficult to enjoy music. But sometimes we experience musical performances that allow us to transcend that role of mistake fixers to actually enjoy listening to music. We had several moments like that at the 2018 AMEA Professional Development Conference.
When reaching out to artists for the 2018 conference I had a goal to highlight parts of our organization that might not always have the focused attention of our membership and be a draw for all to enjoy. I believe we can all have an appreciation for our differences and will be better musicians and teachers if we are more empathetic to our colleagues as we all TEACH MUSIC!
The Alabama Symphony performance was fantastic and to experience a concert in their home hall was even more enjoyable. The programming, facility and musicianship displayed were all excellent. The management team from the orchestra was very hands on and even had a booth in the exhibits. They are dedicated to supporting music education in our state and have education concerts scheduled for rural and urban students who might not have the chance to hear a live orchestra.
When I made the connection with Voctave about performing at AMEA, I knew it would be a difficult sell for those who had not heard of them or experienced the original ensemble all of them have performed with – the Voices of Liberty at Epcot. As I sat in the concert with tears streaming down my face and the 3rd spontaneous standing ovation was happening, I knew that we had experienced something very special and had breathed rare air. Representatives from all divisions told me how much they enjoyed both concerts. As President of AMEA it is not always clear the path to take – but I have never been more sure after these concerts and moments of cohesion between the divisions of AMEA. This coupled with the Peter Boonshaft Keynote and the Honor Choir and All State Jazz Band concerts, I was thrilled with what we were able to bring to the membership this year.
I was amazed at the resilience and fortitude of our organization, presenters and vendors in the wake of frigid temperatures and icy conditions. As the AMEA board met via multiple conference calls before the conference to discuss how to handle the weather issues – our concern for members and students were always at the forefront of our minds. If at all possible, we wanted the performing groups to be able to perform after all their preparations and for our membership to benefit from the clinicians and sessions offered. Though some members were not able to attend, the show did go on and with a few schedule modifications – all student groups were able to perform. It is my hope that every educator came away from the conference with a new idea or technique that will guide their teaching in the future or make them feel refreshed and rejuvenated for the second half of the year.
Before my time on the AMEA Board I had had no idea how integral each board member is to the conference. Each division president is the point person for their portion of the conference and basically run a conference within a conference. I want to take a moment to thank them and highlight the portions of the conference they oversee.
Garry Taylor and Rusty Logan are our Executive Director and Assistant Director. They oversaw communication with each ensemble, clinician, vendor and the venue. From awards given to the food at luncheons to the projectors in each presentation room – they are working to make the conference happen for the entire previous year.
Carl Hancock, our Immediate Past President, oversaw the FAME program and the Past Presidents luncheon.
Greg Gumina, our President-elect, helped facilitate registration and assisted with the conference as needed
Pat Stegall, our Registrar and Treasurer, worked with NAFME to move our registration process forward.
Doug Farris, ABA President, facilitated the division meetings and sessions.
Kim Bain, Jazz Chair, facilitated the four All-State Jazz Bands rehearsals and performances.
Sam Norlund, AOA President, facilitated the division meetings and sessions.
Ginny Coleman , AVA President, facilitated the division meetings and sessions, the Honor Choir, and the moving of risers.
Phil Wilson, Elem/General President, facilitated the division meetings and sessions, and the moving of many classroom instruments.
Ted Hoffman, Collegiate Advisor, facilitated all collegiate sessions and the collegiate luncheon and reception.
Madison Baldwin, Collegiate President, facilitated the division meeting and the collegiate luncheon and reception.
Becky Halliday, Higher Education President, facilitated the division meeting, sessions, reception and HED recital.
Carla Gallahan, Recording Secretary, recorded all meeting minutes and reported to the membership.
Becky Lightfoot, Industry Representative, made many suggestions that are current policy and continues to guide our path
The AMEA Board knew moving to a new venue would have some challenges and opportunities. The BJCC and the Sheraton complex offer the AMEA Professional Development Conference more space and room to grow. Many of you have made suggestions and these were discussed at our post conference meeting. While there were some rough edges we encountered, we have already started adjusting the schedule, flow and placements of portions of the conference for next year.
AMEA is only as strong as its members and leadership and your experience with the organization is what you make of it. I encourage each of you to get involved in your divisions and volunteer to help with the AMEA as you can. It is certainly fulfilling to be an advocate for music education in Alabama and the conference is the embodiment of the organization’s impact on the arts.
Thank you again for all you do each day in the classroom. Music is our subject, but teaching is our passion and calling. Don’t let the ups and down of the school day rob you of remembering that YOU make an impact on the future of children and while they might not remember every detail taught – they will remember how they felt about music in your class.