Conferences, Professional Development, and Dr. Jim Frankel

As previously mentioned on our blog, Brigid Moran and I recently returned from MENC’s Music Education Week 2010 in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. We were aided in our live-blogging efforts by Dr. Jim Frankel, Teachers College professor, and Andrew Ritenour and Andy Zweibel from musicedmajor.net.

The conference certainly was a whirlwind adventure, and be sure to watch this space as well as MEM.N for our recaps of all the academies and sessions that we went to. While it was exhausting, I found the entire experience to be simultaneously really exciting and, even though I’m still a pre-service teacher, I certainly have a lot to think about now regarding the field and how I want to work in the future.

Jim also shares my thoughts on the value of attending conferences. He went to his first conference at the age of 18 and has continued being a frequent visitor, both as an attendee and as a clinician. While he still believes that conferences can play a significant part in the music educator’s professional development, he’s seen conference attendance decline over the last 5 years due to a number of reasons like lack of funding, the difficulty of getting out of work or other obligations, and the sheer cost of travel and lodging.

Because of this, Jim and SoundTree are working towards launching the first entirely free and online music education conference on technology, the Music, Education, and Technology Online Summit 2010. Jim announced this event both Friday, June 25 2010, to SoundTree customers & Twitter followers, and Saturday, June 26 2010, to the attendees of the CMENC/New Teachers Academy. As quoted from SoundTree:

METOS – the Music, Education & Technology Online Summit – is your unique opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insight from a panel of expert presenters located across the country, all in a single interactive afternoon. SoundTree has teamed up with a select group of technology partners to produce this concentrated and effective online event.

The METOS Conference will be divided into 16 separate sessions. While each will focus on a specific topic, together they will all address ways to effectively integrate the latest technologies into the music classroom.

Jim told me that all of the presenters have already committed and are ready for this event. Information about specific sessions and presenters will be posted August 1 2010, and registration will open on September 1 2010.  The conference takes place Monday October 11 2010 (Columbus Day), from 12:30pm – 5:00pm EST, and registration is limited.

I personally think that this is a great opportunity for all music educators and encourage everyone to sign up for the online conference if possible. The free and convenient nature of this conference renders all of the frequent deterrents (lack of funds, awkward scheduling, etc.) moot and even just thinking through the information given can be beneficial for your own teaching. Jim agrees with this point, adding that conference attendance is, overall, a great way to be able to learn from the best, see what the latest trends and techniques are in music education, and keep your own teaching fresh and competitive. He stressed in his own session (look to this site and MEM.N for an upcoming recap, though most TC students are likely familiar with the topics of his session!) the importance of loving what you do and never taking it for granted. One of the best ways to stay refreshed and passionate about music education is to experience what is going on at the forefront of the field and I personally left the conference feeling energized and excited to get back into teaching music.

I can’t stress enough how much I would highly recommend attending the online conference in October 2010 and, hopefully, attending more in-person conferences as well. While Web 2.0 and all the latest advances in social and communicative technology are facilitating the ways in which we can network and engage in discourse about the field, there is still value in face to face interaction.

Finally, while my interview time with Jim was brief,  I was still able to ask him what techy tools he’d bring with him if he were exiled to a desert island. With little to no hesitation, he answered:

  1. His Mac
  2. GarageBand
  3. A Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. A Korg GEC3 lab controller
  5. Sibelius 6 or Finale 2011

Now that I think about it, I really think that Jim deserves to bring an extra piece of software/hardware. Aren’t 1 and 2 kind of synonymous? 5 could very easily go along with 1 as well. I suppose that just means Jim will owe me a few more answers at the next conference we both attend…