The 75th Annual NYSSMA Conference Dec 2-5, 2010

| December 9, 2010

December 2-5 marked the 75th Annual NYSSMA Conference held in Rochester, NY.  Teachers and students from all areas of New York State gathered in the hosting city to create music, learn about music, get resources and materials, and to communicate with other musicians, students, and teachers involved in music.

For many high school students, participating in the NYSSMA conference is one of great achievement.  To perform in one of the student ensembles, a student needs to have prepared a Level 6 NYSSMA solo and received a perfect score from the NYSSMA solo festival from the previous spring.  These extraordinary students rehearse for the three day conference with other students from across the state in Symphonic Band, Mixed Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, String Orchestra, or Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

While the students rehearsed, educators attended workshop sessions, concerts, and visited the exhibition hall.

Each session lasted about an hour and a half, lead by specialists in particular fields.  Approximately 11 sessions happened in the allotted session time. There were about 5 session times per day.  Depending on your interests, you could pick which sessions you wanted to attend.  For instance, I am interested in early childhood music education, so I attended most of the sessions designated as elementary school topics.

Other ensembles are invited to play at the conference as well as the All-State ensembles.  The ensembles that play at the NYSSMA conference are of high caliber-often from high level high school ensembles or colleges.  There was allotted time to attend these concerts.  The performances are of varying styles of music, whether it was chamber music, wind ensembles, orchestras, or jazz bands.

The exhibition hall is a music educator’s dream.  On one side of the hall are booths to recruit and inform students and educators about music education programs at colleges in New York State.  Behind those booths are booths to try out instruments, with manufacturers of wind, brass, percussion, and strings.  Forgot a reed?  Need a new swab?  Never fear-the booths will have it, and at a discount!

On the other side of the exhibition hall is a slew of materials for teachers and students.  Sheet music, classroom instruments, fundraiser demonstrations, and hundreds of books to aid teachers, whether they are method books, games, lesson plans, and song collections.  It was very easy to spend hours in the exhibition hall, sifting through all of the resources.  Names like Alfred, Hal Leonard, Hickey’s, McIver’s and others were there to supply you with whatever materials you needed.  There were also booths for new music technology and program software.  One could see music teachers “playing” and testing these exciting new technologies.

On Saturday night and Sunday morning, the high school All-State participants played their final concert in the Eastman Theater.  These concerts ended the  conference with a bang.  The musicianship and extraordinary sounds of these students were truly inspiring to the music educators as a testament to why we do what we do.