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My Reflections of IMEA

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My highlight of the season is the Illinois Music Education Association annual conference. Years ago, on a complete whim, the band director, Don Golden and I, decided to to the the conference, ah, like one week before. We got an hotel, two separate rooms, far from the conference, but from that point on, we were completely hooked on the conference. Although it is held in Peoria, Illinois, three hours away, I will not comment on facilities or venue, it’s the people and organization that make the conference.

From the moment we arrive, I feel I am with “my people.” IMEA completely takes over the town and every hotel, for this is not just a professional development conference it is ALL STATE. What that means is in the fall, the various districts from across the state hold a contest, those students are considered “all district,” then they compete for “all-state.” in choir, band, jazz, and orchestra. If a student is selected, then they come to Peoria and tryout again for the various performing groups, either regular ALL STATE or HONORS ALL STATE. They rehearse over three days and a concert either on Friday night or Saturday afternoon is presented to family and friends. So, you have students, along with educators all at one conference. In addition, various performing groups from elementary through college also perform over the three days. Everyone is carrying music and/or instrument. Students are giddy with their new found friendships and basic black dress or suit is a common thread. I try to attend a mixture of inspiration speakers, new technologies, and a concert or two.

Greg Wojcik, Taken from GB website

It started out fabulously, one of my close friends, Greg Wojcik, the Glenbrook South Band Director, received “The Mary Hoffman” award, basically “Illinois Music Teacher of the Year,” at the opening ceremony.  He gave a gracious speech and I am honored to know him. In attendance was many of his students, former students, administrators, and fellow music educators. He has molded Glenbrook South’s band department as an inclusive, talented, and caring depeartment, Always willing to share and share alike. Years ago, he was the Band Director at Sunset Ridge School. He truly cares about his students and is a wonderful role model for every educator.

Taken from Glenbrook School’s website

“Excellence truly describes Mr. Wojcik’s 31 years of teaching at Glenbrook South High School where he teachers Titan Band, Marching Band, Zazz Band, Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Winds and Band Exploration.  Mr. Wojcik has been responsible for making our band one of the finest instrumental groups in the nation.  His bands have marched in every major bowl parade and have won numerous band competitions including the St. Rita High School Mustang Stampede this year.  He also teaches our students to give of themselves and to make our community an even better place.  His drum line and band play at local retirement homes, in the July 4th Glenview Parade, the Holiday Parade, at Rotary fundraisers, Booster Club events and so much more.  Simply put, Greg Wojcik teaches instrumentation, marching band and how to share ones’ talents to make our community and world a better place.”

On to the seesions, Dr. Neil Smith, Technology chair, put together a wonderful selection of presentations. Plus, he really pushed for internet access, as well as tables, and lots of extension cords with strips. WOW, the buzz was more people will consider bring their laptops to the sessions.

Brenda Muench

  • http://techtempo.com/?p=381
  • Brenda is one of my closest friends and we met years ago at IMEA. She is one of the reasons I have learned so much, she is my “tech buddy.” You have to have a tech buddy to test out new technologies and ask questions about stuff. Her entire presentation is on her blogsite.
  • Take-away http://wallwisher.com/I have seen this before and never used it. I loved how Brenda integrated it into her presentation. So, of course upon my return I set up a “wall” for all my classes. Tip: have each class have a different color so you know immediately that students are on the wrong wall. Second Tip: Label your wall by class AND year.

Carol Broos

Dr. Charles Menghini, Sustaining the Passion

  • http://cmenghini.wordpress.com/whos-charlie-menghini/
  • “Charlie,” is the President of VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. If you ever get to  hear him speak, run, run fast to hear him. His little sayings and stories concerning teaching, music, and life really hit home. His mentor and best friend is “Dr. Tim”  Lautzenheiser. He is also amazing. If educators really follow their wisdom, we would move mountains. What is so cool, is in the audience were beginning teachers, teachers in the prime of their experience, and those at the retirement phase. He reached all of them and brought humor to all.
  • Take-away His “sayings” are quite timeless
  • 7. Success lies in our ability to sustain..to keep the passion alive.
  • 10.Make people feel special.
  • 11.People want…AFFIRMATION, INSPIRATION and INFORMATION
  • 12.Be special by not being special.
  • 18.People don’t get burned out, they just forget to refuel.
  • 35.Change is immediate…growth takes time.
  • 36.Most overnight sensations take 10 to 15 years.

Lori McCaskey and Debby Kanyo

  • http://mrskanyosspot.blogspot.com/
  • I also met Lori and Debby at an IMEA conference years ago. Then two years ago we both went to Vermont to study the “Vermont MIDI Project” together.  I love her saying “If I can do it, you can do it, I didn’t know how to do Powerpoint.” Then Debby decided to write a grant and get a lab in her school. three grants later, she has been the force behind four labs within her school-district and Lori is her counterpart in the elementary. They showed how they had limited tech skills and pushed ahead. Their program is much like mine, infused with performance and technology.
  • Take-away http://www.incredibox.fr/ A really cool website that you create music, given the loops. It is  an online application that offers you to discover the musical universe of “The Incredible Polo,” handling a range of “human beat-box” sounds created by the artist.

Kyle Freesen

  • http://virtualpodium.blogspot.com/
  • I met Kyle for the first time at this conference. He has started a blog for his band, “The Virtual Podium.” He had many good points and walked the “newbies,” through setting up a blog.  After Kyle saw my presentation about Google forms, he went ahead and used it in his presentation! He’s on twitter as well, so I can follow his journey of technology from a band director.
  • Take-away “Newbies, are important as Techies.” It reminds me that “newbies” need to feel that all this “tech stuff” is not for the techies. Although I didn’t take any new thing away, I added a music educator to my PLN, which is more valuable!

Jazz Night

On Friday night, the all-state jazz band performs. Wow is my only term. The students are incredible with their passion and talent.

There is also the traditional nights of connecting with the various eating establishments. As always, there are tables and tables of musicians, young and old. Being able to connect with the rest of the music department was a plus as well, since every music teacher from Sunset Ridge attended the conference.


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