What a great weekend in Charleston! Not only did I learn a lot from some great lectures and performances, but I got to spend time time at CofC and get to know the city a little better. It’s so pretty! I can’t wait to move there and start grad school and January!

I thought I would give a brief recap of the sessions I attended in case any of the topics are of interest to you readers. I didn’t have the opportunity to tweet as much as I had hoped to, but I provided my conference tweets at the bottom of the post as well.

Robert Duke: “Beautiful”

This was such an inspiring presentation. I’m only sorry I missed the second session he gave while I was sitting in on the CofC Concert Choir’s rehearsal. The main premise of his presentation was that, most of the time, musicians and teachers forget why music is pursued in the first place: because of it’s beauty, and the feelings it bring us and others. He explained that, as teachers, we should be nurturing student expression, as school tends to “punish” any expression or attempt at learning that may lead to error. He said to “create learning experiences for students where if they fail, they are encouraged to figure out a new way to complete the task.” I absolutely LOVE that. Instead of showing a student what they did wrong, coach them to figure it out on their own so they LEARN it.

Another thing I loved, and think is so so true: “You won’t learn anything during this session.” He’s so right. We can write down every word a teacher says and pay particular attention to them, but the real learning experience comes when you apply it outside the classroom. I LOVE that.

Diane W. Higgins: “Get Out of that Musical Box: Teach Students How to Compose!”

This was a really great session as well! Her philosophy in exploring creativity through composition was so interesting, and from seeing/listening to her students work, it’s clearly working! She showed us her explanation of musical form as picturing it as constructing a house. A sections were the first floor, Bridges were the staircases, etc. She showed us how she constructs her summer composition camps, having sessions in the early afternoon and some after dinner so kids can do other activities during the day, or just have something to do at night!

Diana Popowycz: “Initiation into Dalcroze Eurhythmics: Embodying musical knowledge through movement”

This session was incredible amounts of fun! No note taking, no staring at slides…none of that! We had to take off our shoes and socks and participate 100%! We did a lot of moving to different music as a group and individually. In one exercise we had to walk “to our own beat,” to no music, and then she would accompany ONE person’s walk and we had to figure out who she was playing to. It was really interesting!

We did some live dictation, clapping along to signs being rearranged after 8 measures. Then clapping opposite of what we saw, such as clapping quarter notes when we see eighth notes, and vice versa. There were fun (yet sometimes complicated) clapping games, throwing and catching tennis balls in rhythm….it was a session of musical games and movement. There is so much movement in music, not only inside the score, but how you play, how you conduct, and how you perform. REALLY fascinating. I’d love to learn more about Dalcroze.

Sheila Page: “How Motion Affects Sound”

This session was geared more toward the accomplished pianist/piano students, but it was definitely interesting to hear her explanations of proper posture and hand/arm placement. She provided several musical examples to demonstrate how to properly move with the music instead of against it. In addition to music, it was a very interesting anatomy lesson regarding how the bones in your arms and fingers are working, how they work together, and how some poor movements can affect different parts of your arm. A lot of musicians endure many injuries simply because of their movement, and it’s awesome that there are people out there studying the particulars and teaching the proper way to play to avoid further harm to musicians.


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All in all, it was a great weekend filled with new knowledge and lots of fun. I encourage students to attend these kinds of conferences because you will be that much more prepared and knowledgeable for your first teaching job. Take advantage of the sessions, master classes, and performances available to you!