What Do Music Educators Do When They Cannot Attend Conferences?

For the past ten years, the winter season has meant conference season for me. It was 10 years ago that I presented at my first music education conference. It was the TI:ME/TMEA conference in 2004 in San Antonio, TX. I presented an 8 am session on the Wednesday TI:ME Pre-Conference Day titled “Technology in the Elementary General Music Classroom.” The session went very well and at that time, it was a very untapped topic. I had over 60 music educators at my session and the technology worked well during the session (always a plus, but never a given). After that session, I realized that I loved attending and presenting at conferences. It’s an amazing sharing experience because as you share your ideas, the participants chime in and share their ideas. I end up coming back to my classroom with great ideas from attending sessions as well as from presenting sessions. This year, I am back at the 2014 TI:ME/TMEA conference presenting three sessions on the TI:ME Pre-Conference Day of Wednesday, February 12. If you are attending, please stop by any of my sessions:

  •  12:45 – 1:45 PM / CC 204 iPads in Elementary Music: Apps and Integration
  • 3:15 – 4:15 PM / CC 207 Technology Resources and Activities to Assess Students (Presenting with 2014 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Catie Dwinal!)
  • 4:30 – 5:30 PM / CC 207 Free Technology Resources for Elementary Music Educators
  • NJMEA: 2:30 on Friday 2/21 iPads in Elementary Music: Apps and Integration
  • Those who know me just uttered to themselves…”Shameless plug Amy!” So…

red-question-mark-circle-clip-art_428358This post addresses what alternatives you have when you cannot attend a conference in person. As much as we would all love to be able to attend a conference in person because that presents the wonderful opportunities of networking with other music educators, speaking directly to a presenter, seeing a very famous presenter in person (Dr. John Feierabend will be at TMEA!), browsing the exhibits, and so much more, sometimes timing and money prevent us from being able to attend. With that in mind, there are some ample alternatives:

  1. Attend an online conference. As technology advances, more and more online conferences are appearing and this presents some wonderful opportunities for music educators. It is a less expensive alternative and you do not have to travel because you login from your computer from your home (sitting in your bed wearing your pjs). I have had the pleasure in presenting one for SoundTree and another this past summer, The Virtual Music Education Conference held by Fun Music Company. Screen shot 2012-07-04 at 1.04.56 AM
  2. Follow the conference # on twitter. There are many educators who tweet about everything throughout the conference. There are times when I would have liked to have attended a conference, but will read through the conference # instead and get the gist of the conference.
  3. Download the handouts. Many presenters post their handouts of their sessions online so that if they run out, there is a way to receive the handout. Find the presenter’s webpage, facebook page, follow them on twitter, google+ etc, and see if he/she uploaded the handouts on a page where you can download them. You will find mine on my homepage (more coming this week).
  4. Attend an online G+ music hangout. A popular one is the Catie’s MusEdMot Day (Music Ed Motivation Day), which will be held on Wednesday, June 25. Look for more details on her website: http://musedmot.webs.com/ Another type of motivational hangout is one I am hosting on G+ for eight NJMEA Early childhood/PreK/K music educators on a date to be announced in the near future. It will be a free webinar where I will show excerpts from my PreK/K music classes and we will discuss what works and share numerous resources.
  5. Join your local Orff, Kodaly, music, etc organization. I always adore how they have Saturday workshops throughout the school year where you leave rejuvenated with ideas, materials, and more networking possibilities. This past Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting a technology integration workshop for the music educators in SCMEA on Long Island. They were all so fantastic, asked great questions, absorbed everything I presented, and were so amazingly organized from the host (Vicky) to the school’s music/tech teacher (Philip), to the IT personnel (Chad) who all stayed there the entire day to solve any tech problems that may occur.
  6. Join Facebook music groups (like https://www.facebook.com/groups/musicpln/) and begin asking questions of other music educators (over 6000 on that page) and find other music educators’ blogs/webpages/teacherpayteacher items/etc. because the best materials are the ones that music educators are using every day in their classrooms. When they share those materials, it gives you more amazing resources for your classroom.

If you can get to a conference, write the sub plans and take the days to go. Though the sub plans can be work in and of itself, it is worth the labor when you can find a great conference to rejuvenate you and your teaching. If you cannot get to a conference, try one or more of these alternatives so you can get the motivational reboot that we all need at this time of year!   amy

Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award and the 2016 NJMEA Master Music Teacher Award. TI:ME . You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com
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