Minnesota MEA Celebrates 50 Years of All-State Summer Music Camps


Timothy Takach was commissioned by MMEA to compose a choral work for the February concert. He worked students on the choral piece, “Goodbye, Then” during the music camp.

During the first week in August, more than 575 high school students traveled to three different Minnesota university campuses for 6-day music camps. The young musicians rehearsed five to six hours daily at  the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) 50th annual All-State camps.

After learning the nuances of the music and being challenged by Minnesota music educators and renowned conductors, the students reported life-changing experiences.

Student comments to MMEA about what they learned included:

  • “Many life skills– more prepared for college life, better at handling stress, and ready to tackle anything that comes my way!”
  • “[I learned] how to have time for yourself and also to get things done.”
  • “Personal growth, musicianship, teamwork, and dedication.”
  • “I learned about college options and how to increase my understanding on how to apply for the college I want to go to.”
  • “I learned how to blend in with a choir, using the proper tone desired for each piece. I also learned how to save my voice when being demanded for hours of practice at a time.
  • •Lastly, I learned that all of the hard work that I put into my vocal practice can sometimes be rewarded with amazing opportunities such as All-State Choir.”
  • “The knowledge of how important music really is was reinforced in my mind. I know now that I can never distance myself from music, and I need to share my passion for music with others! Music grounds me, but it also sparks creativity!”

Mary Schaefle, MMEA executive director, said the camps are a long-standing tradition and there is fierce competition for all-state spots. This year’s high school students were chosen from more than 2,000, who performed MMEA blind auditions in March, 2012.

The all-state concert and symphonic bands; men’s, women’s and mixed choirs, orchestra and jazz ensemble—will rehearse again in “reunion” rehearsals with the conductors in February before performing  All-State concerts during the MMEA Mid-Winter Professional Development  Clinic , February 14–16. In addition to the nationally recognized conductors, more than 40 Minnesota music educators work with the students during camps.

Schaefle said students focus on music technique, expressiveness, instrument or voice specific techniques, cultural or historical context for the selected repertoire during rehearsals.  They learn leadership, and critical social and independent-living skills in other sessions.

Students stay in college dorms during the summer music camps. This year the camps were held at

•        University of Minnesota in Duluth

•        St. Johns University in Collegeville, Minnesota

•        Concordia College in Morehead

The Concert Band’s low brass section rehearses.

Schaefle said the music educators who participate in the camps find the experience rewarding as well.

Dan Hampton, the choral vice-president for MMEA who teaches at Montevideo High School, said MMEA works closely with the American Choral Directors Association to produce the Summer Dialogue,” concurrent professional development conferences run by our colleague organizations). Minnesota directors visit All-State rehearsals, and All-State directors present sessions at Dialogue.”

“It is an amazing master class/workshop atmosphere for the music educators who serve as section leaders. Hampton said. “My first experience with Minnesota All-State was in 1997 when I was a section coach for the first time. I learned as much during that week as the students did. It was an amazing “jump start” for my career and I went away from the week incredibly energized for teaching.”

Another MMEA leader discussed her All-State experience and the impact it had on her life: “I was an All-State Band member in 1984–1985, and now I am an executive board member,” said Amy K. Roisum Foley, MMEA President-Elect, and a MMEA clinic chair. She is director of bands and professor of music in the music department Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Of her high school All-State experience Foley said, “The week spent with Miles Johnson from St. Olaf College, the section coaches, camp counselors, and students was a pivotal point in my life. It led me to select my undergraduate institution, my profession and started the path that I would take over the course of my lifetime. My MMEA All-State Band experience, literally, changed my life.”

Schaefle said those kinds of reactions from students and teachers demonstrate why the program is such a labor of love for MMEA members. “We value the fact that we can share this amazing experience with family, friends, music educators and the community. However, our primary interest lies with the educational experience the students receive.”

Read more about the All-State program in Minnesota.

Minnesota MMEA Facebook Page

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Roz Fehr, NAfME managing editor for news, August 29, 2012. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

Photos Courtesy of MMEA