Report on MMEA Conference, Feb 1999, Grading Contract, dfred : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

A Report on the MMEA Conference as part of my A grading contract, February 19,1999 Donna Frederickson, #472-60-5982 International Falls Cohort

Minnesota Music Educator's Association (MMEA) Midwinter In-Service Conference, Minneapolis Hilton, Minneapolis Convention Center and Orchestra Hall Minneapolis, MN, Feb. 11-13, 1999

Subject of Conference: Strategies for Quality

This is an excellent conference for members of Minnesota Music Educators Association to attend. It is three full days of informational sessions, concerts and exhibitions. The three days give the music educator time in the busy year to converse with other music educators, discuss problems, gain information, be recharged and ask questions. This is only the second year that I have gone to the conference, but I keep being amazed by it. I am amazed by the superb ability of the young performers that we hear in concert and I am amazed by the many sessions that are arranged for us to attend. Every hour there is the choice of twelve sessions to attend and it is very difficult to decide which sessions one wants to attend. The informational sessions are focussed on a wide variety of subjects, such as vocal music, band, orchestra, preschool music, elementary music, middle school music, graduation standards, student evaluation, record keeping, music technology, booster organizations, vocal problems, improvisation, fund raising, mentoring, literature, instrumental technique, and many more. The presenters are always open to answer our questions and the information that we receive is invaluable. Teachers are always open to new methods and materials. Even walking through the Exhibit Hall can be informational because educators can inspect new materials, talk to representatives of the companies and purchase materials. Many times it is great to simply have the time out our busy schedules to discuss a problem with other teachers in the field.

Graduation Standards and Performance Packages have been a large part of the conference last year and this year. This year every one was very curious what the decision that the State of Minnesota Legislature would be effecting the future of Minnesota Graduation Standards. The vote was happening the day before the conference. The Minnesota Center for Arts Education had their representatives there to lead us through the sessions none the less. They informed us that they felt that no matter which way the legislature voted the National Standards for Arts Education were in place and our teaching should reflect that. The Minnesota Arts Education representatives felt that all of the teachers who have started to implement the performance packages that they wrote have found something useful in them and that no matter the outcome of the Minnesota Legislature those teachers and students will have gained from them. This year there were two excellent keynote addresses, one on Thursday and one on Friday evening. On Thursday we heard Conductor Eiji Oue, Music Director for the Minnesota Orchestra, and on Friday evening we heard David O'Fallon, executive director for the Lola and Rudy Perpich Minnesota Center for the Arts.

Conductor Eiji Oue began by saying that he continues to be thrilled by music and music experiences. He has never regretted his pursuit of musical knowledge or career. He cannot imagine his life without music. He related how special it was to work last week with the 600 students involved in the "Young People Celebrating Bernstein Concert." He was thrilled to see the love of music exhibited in their performance and he knew that it was teachers like us in the audience that had gotten these students to that point. He related to the audience that his love for music was gained from his teachers, and, thus, the main point of his address was to give praise and encouragement to music teachers. He reminded the teachers in the audience to continually to teach the joy that can be achieved through music. He said that he fears for today's society and its youth. The children of today have the "gods of entertainment" tempting them in every way. 'Our society has become a society of consent in every way." He believes in the structure, work and creativity in music. "Music is an oasis where children can come to participate in a free, inspiring way and when properly taught, children can find life in music." He closed with emphasizing that the music proficiencies that we teach are needed now more than ever before. David O'Fallon focussed on the fact that even if the State of Minnesota does away with the Graduation Standards and profiles, there have been many sound packages developed and he believes that teachers and students have and will benefit from them and continue to use them. O'Fallon praised teachers for the work they do and the many public performances they develop children's skills for. However, he also told teachers to document the time or show the work, talent, equipment, organizational skills and struggles that go into developing the performing units so they are ready for performance. Many times when an arts program is in danger of being cut from a school system, no one is aware of all of the factors that go into making the performance. Why do teachers put in all of that effort and what is the result for the students? He said that music provides relationship building and connections for those young students in the arts and now, more than ever, students need this. Children want to have relationships and connections and they need to feel apart of something. Music has the capacity to take young people to performance, make them feel apart of the whole development, a part of the unit and then music can touch their souls. Music touches the soul, the inner self and the heart. Music, sometimes, has the capacity to take the problem student and give that student the connections he needs to feel connected and successful. Music teachers share their passion every day and teach students to involve themselves in that passion and give the passion to others. The passion for music has the ability to web out and connect others. O'Fallon is concerned that the arts be at the core of Minnesota education and vowed that he will always work toward that goal. He closed with a quote from Robert Frost: "Only when love and work are one is the work really done for heaven and the future's sake."

The highlight of the conference, for me, is to hear the fantastic performing musical units. There are performing units made up of elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult age people. Every one of these units are top notch and it makes one every envious to see the talent, quality, professionalism and equipment that these units have. It also makes one want to have their performing units that are locked into the mediocrity of north woods see the quality exampled by these units. I realize that the units performing are all auditioned groups and my performing units are not, but the quality and talent displayed is awesome. If students today are more visual learners, then I think that it is vital for a unit striving for quality to see quality. Thus, if we are going to strive for quality in the performance of students, then they need to be aware of what quality looks like, sounds like, feels like and tastes like.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 1999

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