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Successful educators impart musical wisdom at conference

By Darragh McNicholl
On March 9, 2014

This past Saturday the UConn Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) held a mini-conference for music education majors in the Gentry building. The event, titled "Behind the Scenes of a Successful Program: a Professional Development Day for Aspiring Music Educators," involved three music educators presenting on a variety of subjects important to the field of music education. The conference gave aspiring music educators the opportunity to hear about many of the topics and questions that exist in music education from people succeeding in the field.
The first music educator who presented was Wayne Pierce, who is affiliated with His presentation was titled "Technology Tools for Today's Music Educator." Much like the website, Pierce's presentation focused on the ever-expanding use of technology in music and music education. The presence of technology is difficult to avoid when teaching music nowadays, but Pierce advised many websites, texts, and organizations that can be helpful for aspiring music educators.
Aaron Burgess, a Director of Bands at E. O. Smith High School, presented on the necessities of landing a job. This universal topic focused on landing a job as a teacher in the school of music department and contained many valuable tips and tricks.
The final presentation, by Ned Smith discussed the questions that music educators need to constantly ask themselves in order to best teach their students. "How is music different from any other activity warranting a place as a separate subject?" and "What do you ultimately believe is important about music that makes it worth sharing with students?" are two questions Smith asked. The goal is to reevaluate how music needs to be taught, and for the educators to gain their own philosophies about why music matters.
"I want to sensitize people to the beauty in the world around them through sound." said Smith, remarking on his own goals as a music educator. He taught aspiring music educators that they need to have philosophies on music and education alike. They need to know how to work with others in the field of education, and how to plan ahead so that they can change the curriculum or their teaching style to best for their students needs.
Valerie Stickles, president of the Uconn NAfME chapter, ended the mini-conference by saying that "these conversations don't need to stop." Music education is a subject worth discussing at any moment and for anyone-educators and other citizens alike. How music education is approached, in what setting it can best be done, and the ever increasing presence of technology are all topics that matter to a society that views music as an influential art form.

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