Yesterday I attended the Delaware Music Educators Association (DMEA) conference. When I first walked into Dover High School, I was in awe to the beauty of the campus and school. The day not only included music, but also dance and art as it was the States Art Conference.

Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser

The music keynote address was given by the inspirational Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser. Dr. Lautzenheiser is an acclaimed author, presenter, and educator. He worked for many years as a college music professor at Northern Michigan University, the University of Missouri, and New Mexico State University. Dr. Lautzenheiser then created Attitude Concepts for Today, Inc., an organization designed to manage the requests for teacher inservice workshops, student leadership seminars, and convention speaking engagements focusing on the area of effective leadership training. He presently serves as Vice President of Education for Conn-Selmer, Inc. (

Music Learning = Life Learning

Dr. Lautzenheiser’s keynote was titled “Music Learning = Life Learning.” He began his keynote, which he affectionately called storytelling (I loved this!), with the following quote that you know came from his heart: “I think that arts teachers are the most important teachers in the school.” He calls his keynotes, “storytelling”, because he states that he presents stories and not the powerpoints with research. I feel that those who have had his career might not have the statistics, but they have something just as important: they have the authentic experiences.

Dr. Lautzenheiser pointed out how important teachers are as he surveyed the audience to find out which of us were influenced by a music teacher. A majority of the audience were influenced by a teacher. In addition, he pointed out that in ten years, one of our students might be in the same room attending the same conference as a teacher because we influenced them. It reminded us of how powerful teachers truly are. 

He remarked that he was researching what makes a great music program. He discovered that not all teachers with successful programs had the same personalities: they varied from being extremely quiet to being very extroverted. However, from this, he realized the following: The ability to create a trusting relationship with a student. The students have to trust us. They have to know that we support them and help them to experience success.

Three Elements

A successful music program is one that has three elements. The first is the trust stated above. The second is to take the ego out of the program. Everything is about the students. Music is a program that everyone performs and we, if we are lucky, work with the students for the entire year, as opposed to a season. We never bench a child. We find ways to utilize each child’s strengths and weaknesses.

The third element is that our programs have the ability “to create what is not there.” Our programs have these superhero powers that help students to learn and create music together. Music that was not there previously. It is pretty amazing when one stops to think about that. As Dr. Lautzenheiser stated, “I think that there should be music for every kid, in every school, taught by a competent music educator.” This statement did end with roaring applause as the room was filled with music educators. However, Dr. Lautzenheiser’s words resonate at a much larger scale.

The study of the arts make a significant difference in a child’s life. Numerous research shows this from studies of how music positively affects learning to how the arts produces a well-rounded student. The arts in schools also do so much more. They play a large role in developing a student’s confidence, discipline, determination, teamwork skills, accountability, focus, and love or appreciation for the arts. 

Dr. Lautzenheiser finished with reminding us that, as teachers, we make the difference in our students’ lives. He reminded us to connect to our students. Create those long-lasting relationships!



P.S. My two sessions were about using technology to assess in the elementary music classroom and to assist with creating and composing with young elementary students. To see the handouts from these two sessions, please click here.

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