“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over the past several months I have witnessed music educators from across our state overcome unparalleled obstacles to keep programs moving forward. Although the students’ experience may not have been as grandiose as usual, I’m confident to say the experiences provided to the students during these times are just as meaningful.
A highlight of my year came this fall as I once again interacted with my students in person after such long anticipation. Soon after our first meeting, I found myself overwhelmed with joy as I heard the first note performed in person. Seeing the students’ face light up with excitement after making music together again was a sight I will never forget.
Now that we are in the midst of the rigor of in-person instruction, which now includes face masks, bell covers and the constant sanitization of everything, we find there is still much to learn and share. Additionally, we must continue to stay motivated while growing professionally just as we have in the past. For me, attending music conferences is a proven source of inspiration and the 2021 AMEA conference will be no exception.
AMEA Virtual Conference 2021
As we celebrate AMEA’s 75th anniversary, we look back and see that Alabama has enjoyed some of the most successful professional development conferences in the country with exceptional performances, clinicians and fellowship with professionals across our state. Despite the current circumstances, our goal is to continue this tradition with a unique and meaningful experience this January.
Our executive team, which includes Garry Taylor, Rusty Logan and Carl Hancock, has assembled the technical foundation for the conference that will give attendees an exceptional online experience using Map Dynamics and Zoom. Map Dynamics will provide an interface with simple access to all sessions and performances. Since most of us are already Zoom experts, we will use this method to broadcast the sessions and interact with the clinicians.
All divisions have accepted outstanding sessions for this three-day event and pre-conference bonus sessions will be available in November. We will enjoy outstanding performances from programs across our state that will surely inspire us all.
An important part of our yearly conference is the time we spend with our colleagues as we share ideas and enjoy each other’s company. We will provide a time for networking lounges in each division that will provide roundtable discussions. In addition, we will have a social hour to give you an opportunity to catch up with colleagues.
Vendors are an important part of our conference and need our support as they have supported us over the years. We will provide everyone an opportunity to interact through virtual exhibits. These exhibit times will give opportunity to ask questions and see their latest offerings.
A virtual conference will give us the ability to offer multiple keynote speakers. Dr. Judy Bowers, the Emy- Lou Biedenharn Endowed Chair of Music Education at the University of Louisiana, Monroe, will present her keynote session on Thursday night. In 2014, Dr. Bowers was named the Lowell Mason National
Music Education Fellow and inducted into the society by the National Association for Music Education in Washington, DC. Her distinguished choral music career and unique experiences will bring insightful information to us as we look for new ways to engage students.
Friday night, Bob Morrison will present his keynote session that will explore how music education moves beyond 2020 and offer insights on how to plan for the future. Mr. Morrison is the founder of Music for All, was the founding CEO of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and his advocacy work has earned him both an EMMY and a Peabody Award. He is the founder and CEO of Quadrant Research, the nation’s leading arts education research organization, and his accomplishments and accolades go far beyond the space this article provides. His insightful message will give meaningful information you will not want to miss.
I am extremely proud of the time our Governing Board has put into this year’s conference. The event is full of quality sessions, performances, and nationally recognized presenters. With a reduced price and a convenient schedule, this conference provides a quality experience we should all enjoy and I hope you will take full advantage of this unique opportunity.
Southern Division Meeting
On September 13, I attended the Southern Division Meeting virtually along with Rob Lyda, Greg Gumina, Garry Taylor, and Rusty Logan. During this meeting, we heard from the new NAfME President, Mackie Spradley, the Interim Executive Director, Chris Woodside, and Chief Financial Officer, Chaudlier Moore. Each is new to their position and took time to answer questions and address asks from the states.
NAfME is our national voice and the new leadership is making changes to bring you the most value for your membership. They have implemented large financial changes that will keep the association strong while providing an abundance of advocacy and research campaigns. If you have not looked at their website lately please take a moment and peruse through the enormous amount of resource material they are providing at http://nafme.org
Finally, I would like to challenge you to keep moving forward with your music programs. If you are feeling overwhelmed, start with taking one idea, one source of information, or one new idea from the conference and use it to keep moving in a positive direction. You will find a crawl will turn into a walk, then a walk into a run, and finally, we will all fly again.
I’m looking forward to coming together this January and moving forward to a brighter future. Let’s fly together.
– David Raney