Happy Fall! I hope you are enjoying the change of the seasons here in Montana and that you are finding your work with children rewarding, stimulating and fun. We certainly experienced the opportunity for ample nourishment at this year’s MMEA conference in Great Falls.
MGMTA started the conference with an exciting session featuring body percussion by Saxon Inabnit from Missoula. Saxon expertly guided us through several body percussion pieces from Rhythmische Ubung by Gunild Keetman and Music for Children by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman. Participants experienced the joy of playing with language and making music with the body. Saxon also led us into instrumental versions of the speech/body percussion pieces she presented. We made music together with “A Snap, Pat and Beyond”, just as her session notes promised.
After our business meeting, we were treated to a session presented by our outgoing President, Julie Blakeslee, from Billings and the current AOSA President, our own Jo Ella Hug, from Missoula. Julie and Jo Ella guided our study of rhythm and pitch through drum and recorder as we brought the story of The Empty Pot to life. Every facet of the session challenged participants to create music and movement with the “tools” they introduced. The session culminated in a full fledged performance with singing, dancing, playing and drama. We experienced a wonderful synthesis of conceptual learning and creativity under these two master teachers.
Autumn Keller, a private music teacher from Billings, joined us for our last session on Thursday to share the philosophy and pedagogy of Musikgarten. Autumn focused on music literacy in the early elementary years. She demonstrated the developmental link between music literacy and language literacy. Her sequence was thoughtful and thorough, filled with applicable ideas for our music classrooms.
Jim Solomon’s sessions on Friday were a wonderful celebration of music through drumming, singing, moving and playing the recorder. Jim teaches elementary music in Florida and is a popular presenter at workshops around the country. We not only experienced his sequence for developing ensemble skills, we also observed excellent pedagogy and management skills. Watching a person of Jim’s experience and abilities teach was transformative and inspiring. Our memories of the dynamic music we created with one another in Great Falls will carry us through the year.
We are already planning for another great conference in Bozeman next year on October 15-16, 2009. We hope you can join us for sessions dealing with American Indian Music, Play Party Songs and Games and for our headline presenter, Patricia Bourne. It is an honor to act as your President for the next two years. My best to you as you sing, play, move and create with your students during the late fall and the coming winter!