2018 NAfME National Conference: Best Practice Sessions


Best Practice Sessions


Learn more about all the Opus learning tracks.

Diversifying Elementary Repertoire with Songs & Games in Spanish

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Julie Bannerman

This interactive session explores songs, singing games, and chants in Spanish from Latin America and the United States for PreK–Grade 2 students. Whether you teach children who speak Spanish or not (and even if you don’t), you will leave this session with ideas to get started and activities to try. Resources to be shared include contemporary song collections, singing picture books, recordings, recommended artists, and online sources.


STEAM, Maker Culture, and Music Education

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Evan Tobias, Ryan Bledsoe, Nathan Botts, Jenny Chavez

How can we place music education in a more equitable position vis-á-vis STEM disciplines and STEAM education? This presentation offers perspectives, strategies, and guidance for those interested in intersections between music and STEAM, maker culture, and how we can play a leadership role in the future of arts and STEAM education. Attendees will leave with a sense of what is possible and knowing the next steps to making a difference in their communities.


Kodály in the Urban Classroom

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Lucia Schaefer

Since its introduction to the United States in the 1960s, the Kodály Method has not changed substantially, even as our school communities have changed greatly. Participants will examine some ways the method can be tweaked to meet the needs of urban learners by integrating current teaching concepts and recent discoveries in educational psychology. Session includes a 30-minute Kodály lesson optimized for an urban setting and digital access to resources.


Tools for Instrumental Teaching in Under-Resourced Communities

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Chandran Daniel

This session will cover some of the common challenges for band directors in under-resourced communities as well as strategies for finding success in these teaching situations. Topics will include strategies for acquiring equipment, fundraising in low-socioeconomic-status areas, building rapport with students, creating an inclusive environment for minoritized students, connecting with administrators, scheduling, and finding additional resources through your community.


Rehearsal Strategies for a Changing World

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Angela Ammerman

Frustrated by the daily struggle to motivate students and draw out a better sound? Check out this interactive session on innovative rehearsal techniques for the string orchestra classroom! Participants will play through a variety of string orchestra literature while acquiring ideas for engaging students from all backgrounds/ability levels. Learn tips and tricks from one of the most diverse schools in the U.S. that will motivate any student to get to work! Please bring your instrument, no matter what level!


Ukulele Techniques: How to Teach Them and Play Them Yourself

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Joshua Krohn

Are your students past playing just C, F, and G chords? Looking for songs that offer a bit more challenge? Want to teach your students advanced strumming, improvisation, and melody creation? This session is for you! Join us for an hour of fast-paced, challenging pieces that will inspire both you and your students. The session covers both how to play melody lines using classical picking as well as the methodology for teaching these techniques to your students.


How to Use Hip Hop and Pop in General Music & Ensembles

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Courtney Powers

Successfully incorporate hip-hop music in your general music classroom. This session includes a brief history of the genre, where to find appropriate hip-hop pieces, and how to arrange them for your ensembles. Learn about hip-hop songs that include classical music samples (e.g., hip-hop Nutcracker) and how your students can make their own classical music samples. See a video of students in action with Pachelbel’s “Cannon in D” as they write rhymes and perform pieces using the same chord progression.


Guitar & Popular Music Ensembles in the High School Music Program

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Morris Acevedo

Many students today miss out on opportunities to learn traditional band or orchestra instruments such as violin or trumpet, and by high school, they are unlikely to take up one of these instruments. However, they may be open to learning guitar, bass, keyboard, or drum set. Learn successful strategies for teaching large guitar classes for both beginning and advanced guitarists in the same room, as well as techniques for popular music performing ensembles that involve music theory, improvisation, and arranging.


Spirituals & Gospel: Performing America’s Timeless Music

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Horace Scruggs

When leading spirituals, gospel, or other African-derived music, choral directors often ask: “How does one create a convincing performance with l the nuance and vitality many African-American genres require?” Learn terminology, conducting gestures, rhythmic interpretation, movement suggestions, and other performance practices to help ensure confident rehearsals and authentic performances. Topics will include historical perspectives, music selection, vocal production, and accompaniment styles.


Adapted Composition, Notation & Performance

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

Kimberly Kesner

How can we, as music educators, provide platforms of success for severely disabled students in our music classrooms? This session will feature fun hands on activities for music composition, music notation and adapted instruments. We will discuss how these methods can be used in performance settings. The activities are geared towards those who work with students who have severe and multiple disabilities, but like all lessons, they can easily be adapted to fit the needs of higher functioning students.


Dance with Me: Using Shared Gestures in the Choral Ensemble

Wednesday, November 14th, from 8:00 to 9:00 AM

David Fryling

An ensemble’s ability to respond to conducting gestures depends on a multi-tiered process, the first step of which is getting performers to look at us! By involving your ensemble in the gestural process, you encourage them to think critically about what is being “said” with your gestures. When you provide experiential opportunities in the choral rehearsal to immerse them in a shared gestural vocabulary, an exciting new sense of ensemble emerges from the group. Pick up new ideas for your own gestural grab bag!


No One Sits on the Bench in Band: Marching Band for All

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Michquelena Ferguson, John Potlunas

Marching band is a place for all. This “Old School vs. New School” session will explore the joys, fears, challenges, and rewards that directors experience when true inclusion occurs in a marching band. Learn from anecdotes, testimonials from students and parents, and current trends in music education about techniques for dealing with students with identified and unidentified special needs from the perspective of both a retired and a second-generation music educator.


High School Student Experiences in Alternative Seating

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Tammy Yi

Ensemble seating offers the chance to practice social justice. Learn about the outcomes of alternative seating practices (randomized/scrambled/rotational seating) in a high school string orchestra. These alternative seating practices enhanced the ability of the orchestra, increased student confidence, and fostered new friendships. This presentation also considers the experiences and perspectives of the students.


iPad as an Instrument in the Modern Band Class

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Spencer Hale

In this session, participants use the GarageBand app on iPads to provide musical performance opportunities to their students in Modern Band classes. Through hands-on performing, participants will learn how to use GarageBand to create opportunities for student-centered and instantly successful musical experiences. The presentation will also address assessment, management, scaffolding, and growth for students. Bringing an iPad or iPhone with GarageBand is highly recommended.


Engaging Diversity in High Poverty Schools

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Lisa Lehmann, Jeanne Reynolds

Discover how high-poverty schools get strong results through high-quality music instruction. Learn from teachers as they share successful techniques and strategies learned through Elevate ARTS, a federally funded Professional Development for Arts Educators (PDAE) grant that provides professional development and support. Presenters explain how the use of culturally responsive instruction and engaging lessons has led to high achievement and engagement.


Equity of Women & Non-White Composers in Band & Orchestra Repertoire

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Mary Lynn Doherty, Alexis Lamb, Christine D’Alexander

We have made positive strides in recent years vis-á-vis diversity, equitable access, and inclusion in the music classroom. With the goal of continuing to advance inclusion and equity through programming in classes and concerts, this session will help teachers choose and use repertoire to engage their students and the larger school community, share resources, encourage discussion that can serve as a model for how we can address inequities, and promote a more inclusive learning environment for our students.

Deep registration discounts available with hotel packages. Save up to $225.



Middle School a Cappella: Back to the Future

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Douglas Carnes

“Middle School a Cappella: Back to the Future” will be a deep dive into the future of a cappella singing in middle school choir classrooms. Often considered the most challenging choral singing experience, a cappella is often avoided by middle school educators, but with its emergence in the media, it has become cool again. From barbershop to doo-wop, Pentantonix to the classics, we will discuss best practices, and future of a cappella in the classroom.


Learner-Centered Pedagogy in the Middle School Band

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

David Williams, Robin Heinsen

This session describes a project untaken by middle school concert-band students where a learner-centered rehearsal structure was used. Students were charged with rehearsing a piece without musical input from the teacher. The piece was performed as part of a spring concert, again without a conductor. Presenters conclude with a review of student and director interviews and a recording of the performance. There will be time for discussion and questions.


Lead Students to Artistic Choices & Ownership in Middle School

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:10 to 9:25 AM

Jenny Neff, Elizabeth Fortune

Learn useful and clever band and orchestra teaching strategies that help students make artistic personal choices in their music-making, thereby taking ownership. Presenters will share Library of Congress primary sources that inspired unit plans for band and orchestra repertoire at the middle school level and that focus on the Artistic Process of Responding. Participants will discover new ways to incorporate the process components into their lessons/rehearsals that lead students to meaningful music-making.


Embracing the Whole Musician: Ignite the Musician’s Chi

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Janette Harriott

This active session explores movement to music and preparing the body and mind for music-making and better health. Develop the musician’s chi with body, mind, and soul techniques. Finding the better musician inside each music teacher will lead music teachers to find the better musician inside their students. Explore a variety of techniques to help lead your students to musical success by becoming one with their bodies and their music. Handouts will detail resource lists of all strategies. Come ready to learn and move!


Mindfulness in the Choral Classroom: What, When, and How?

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Val Flamini

Explore ways to include mindfulness practices in choral rehearsals. Experience activities that streamline the latest mindfulness-based research with choral education objectives. Create an environment where students experience acute awareness and deep enjoyment. We will breathe, move, meditate, improvise, and, of course, sing! Including optimal experiences as you plan/carry out rehearsals leads singers to feelings of exhilaration and a state of consciousness where singing in rehearsal is a reward in itself.


Non-Traditional Music Courses in Secondary Level Schools

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Shane Colquhoun

Discover strategies for offering nontraditional music courses in secondary schools. According to researchers, about 80% of students in secondary schools in the United States do not participate in traditional large ensembles. While attention has been paid to diversifying music curricula, traditional ensembles (band, orchestra, choir) remain the most common music classes. Learn about nontraditional music courses offered in U.S. secondary schools, including multicultural music, music technology, and popular music.


Secondary General Music? What Might Be & Why We Should Care

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Patrick Cooper

Consider the many student learners in secondary schools who never walk through our doors. The idea of general music is extrapolated to the secondary classroom to permit student-centered learning and autonomous musical growth. Learn how thinking of the teacher as facilitator (as opposed to director) can be beneficial for including nontraditional secondary students in music. A true student-centered approach is offered to show how any student interest can be supported when we advocate for “secondary general music.”


Amplifying Success: Middle School Men & Successful Singing

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

John Wayman

Teaching middle-school male choral students can be tricky! The voice-change process is challenging from beginning to end. This clinic will address the emotional, physical, and mental issues that are part of the vocal maturation process. The presenter will offer solid, tried-and-true solutions to help your male students become more confident and successful.


Building Better Humans through Music

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Melanie Guerin

When political debate and social media comments make respectful discourse seem like a lost art, music teachers are uniquely equipped to help students connect with others. Through music, students can learn to express themselves effectively, listen for understanding, and relate to others with honesty and openness, but only if we teach these skills. We will explore exercises, activities, and projects that can help develop students’ self-expression, critical listening, and empathy to enrich both their music-making and their humanity.


Teaching Musicianship through Leadership & Engagement

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Kym Scott

Do you wish your students could learn music more quickly or sight-sing more accurately? This session presents concepts from a variety of teaching methods, including Kodály and Dalcroze Eurythmics, to provide simple, fun ideas for implementing a musicianship education plan in any choral curriculum. Activities offer opportunities for student engagement and leadership. The presentation includes ways to improve aural skills, rhythm, music-theory knowledge, sight-reading, and general musicianship.


High School Arts Management: Students Pulling It Together

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Aldonna Girouard, Jamie Choquette

The demands of managing public performances turn the music teacher into a performing arts manager: promoter, marketing specialist, box-office manager, audio engineer, stage manager, lighting designer, and house manager. Why not redirect these skills to the development of a Performing Arts Management class that offers students hands-on, real-world experience? Workshop participants will come away with an outline of how to start their own performing arts management program.


Strategies for Increasing Student Engagement

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Denisse Santos-Stanbery

“I want to teach, but my students don’t seem to want to learn!” This session will focus on practical planning and management strategies that can be applied in music classrooms to help increase student engagement. Learn why some strategies work with some students, while others are not as effective. Throughout this session, we will discuss ways to motivate students to learn in meaningful ways. Strategies that have effectively served to increase student engagement in music classrooms will be shared and demonstrated.


Using Mindfulness, Music, & Movement to Empower

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Lesley Moffat

This presentation is geared toward helping teachers invite mindfulness into their personal and professional lives. In this interactive session, participants will experience the mindfulness practice in action and learn techniques for incorporating it into their own lives so they can begin to explore it with students. Mindfulness serves to clear the clutter from our thinking so we can bring our focus to where we want it. Daily practice of 5–7 minutes can be life-changing for you and your students.


Developing Student Voice in the Large Ensemble

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Brian Weidner

Students who are involved in the music-making process are more likely to make music outside of high school. To facilitate student-led practices, ensemble directors can offer opportunities for students that encourage ownership of aspects of the music-making process such as repertoire selection, rehearsal preparation and execution, concert programming, and musically-focused social interaction. Learn about models for instrumental and choral teachers that help support democratic, interdependent music-making.


Engaged Listening: Musics of Six Countries from Three Continents

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Sangmi Kang, Hyesoo Yoo

Teaching world music is important because U.S. classrooms are increasingly diverse. An accessible activity that teachers can include in general music classrooms is listening to world music. Experience a variety of musical activities for engaged listening, such as singing/playing the main melody of world music songs, playing rhythmic ostinati, and moving the body to the music. Participants will enjoy activities using world music samplers, excerpts from six world music songs from three continents.


Lights, Camera, Action! Become Your Own Teaching Assistant!

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Josephine Cappelletti

This session will introduce music educators to the creation and use of self-published video content for the music classroom. Video technology is a complementary tool to traditional instruction that can be effectively leveraged to fit any teaching style. The session will highlight how you can become your own classroom teaching assistant by creating personalized videos to teach staple pedagogical lessons.


Composition and Guitar in the Special Needs Classroom

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Lauren Crapanzano

Traditional instruments should be accessible to students with special needs. During the past semester, we have taught students with severe mental disabilities how to perform and compose through the guitar.


Korean Percussion as a Music-Making Activity & a Repertoire Piece

Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:35 to 10:05 AM

Sangmi Kang, Hyesoo Yoo

Playing percussive world music pieces engages students because of strong beats and high energy. We will introduce a samulnori (Korean percussion ensemble) piece as a world music class activity and as a part of the performance repertoire for upper elementary and secondary general music classrooms. Samulnori literally means “playing four things” in Korean; it is played using four Korean instruments. Traditional Korean percussion instruments provided by the Houston Korean Education Center.


Woman Power: The Impact of Female Composers on the Wind Band

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Carter Biggers

Women composers were crucial to the development of Western art music. The wind band profession has been blessed with talented women writing works for band, including Carolyn Bremer, Julie Giroux, Libby Larsen, Anne McGinty, and Cindy McTee. Explore research into the inclusion of women composers on standard selective music lists, lesser-known women composers for wind band, and steps we can take to elevate women composers to equitable footing in our programming.


Female Band Directors: What Makes Us Special

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Tiffany Cox

The experiences of women in instrumental music teaching positions has been proven to be drastically different from the experiences of our male counterparts. Learn to identify the unseen obstacles that women in instrumental music face and how to overcome them. Become a more effective teacher by embracing your femininity and supporting our next generation of young women instrumentalists.


Helping Students with Disabilities Find Success in Music

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Amy Cruz

Learn about the most common learning disabilities, how they manifest themselves in the music classroom, and how to adapt your teaching to support those students. Special education lingo will be decoded so you can help your students with special challenges find success in music.


Transforming (Non-Singing) Males into Singers

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Jerry Ulrich, Georgia Tech Glee Club

This session will focus on recruitment strategies for males. If we attract into our ensembles non-singers using fun music, young men with limited choral experience can discover a love of music and singing that can lead to deeper musical engagement with more substantive literature.


Supporting LGBTQ Students in Music Classrooms

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

William Southerland

Inspired by the March 2018 Music Educators Journal article “The Rainbow Connection,” this session highlights ways music teachers can use research-based best practices to create a supportive environment for marginalized students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). The session offers an overview of recent LGBTQ student experiences and a discussion of activities to enhance student interactions. Ask questions or address issues you face in your school.


Increasing Participation among Underrepresented Populations

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

Matthew Clauhs

After examining the traditional school music paradigm, music faculty in a northeastern district implemented new Modern Band electives at the secondary level and popular music pedagogy at the primary level. Enrollment data demonstrate how Modern Band courses increased participation among diverse groups. The experiences of these students and teachers can be useful to those wanting to increase school music participation rates, especially for marginalized and underrepresented student populations.


Now That I Have Your Attention, What Do I Do with It?

Wednesday, November 14th, from 10:15 to 10:45 AM

John Parsons, Amy Simmons

Explore strategies for implementing several 2014 Music Standards in beginning instrumental instruction, namely goals related to Performing (Interpret; Rehearse, Evaluate, and Refine; Present) and Connecting. To teach students to be active music-makers and leaders in ensembles, we must focus learner attention on thinking creatively and using life experiences to inform decision-making. See video examples of three educators who teach these concepts skillfully. Learn techniques that are helpful to mentors and teacher-educators at all levels.


Learn more about all the Opus learning tracks.

Deep registration discounts available with hotel packages. Save up to $225.