2024 Biennial NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education Conference

The 2024 Biennial National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Music Research and Teacher Education Conference will take place September 25-28, 2024, at The Westin Peachtree Plaza, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Biennial NAfME Conference welcomes the participation of future, current, and retired music educators, music teacher educators, administrators, and community and corporate partners who are passionate about the critical role of music education for all. With the NAfME Strategic Plan and A Blueprint for Strengthening the Music Teacher Profession as guideposts, attendees will benefit from current research, policy discourse, and dialogue concerning the human experience in music teaching and learning. Add your voice to the conversation and join in moving the culture of music education forward by attending!

Important Conference Details

Conference Keynote Speaker: Omar Thomas

Omar Thomas head shotAcclaimed jazz musician, educator, arranger, and award-winning composer

Described as “elegant, beautiful, sophisticated, intense, and crystal clear in emotional intent,” the music of Omar Thomas (b. 1984) continues to move listeners everywhere it is performed. Born in Brooklyn, New York to Guyanese parents, Omar received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from James Madison University and his Master of Music in Jazz Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music in 2008. He is the protégé of lauded composers and educators Ken Schaphorst and Frank Carlberg, and has studied under multiple Grammy-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider.

Hailed by Herbie Hancock as showing “great promise as a new voice in the further development of jazz in the future,” educator, arranger, and award-winning composer Omar Thomas has created music extensively in the contemporary jazz and symphonic idiom. Omar has previously served as an Associate Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music and on faculty in the Music Theory department of The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Composition and Jazz Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He has thrice been awarded the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from Harvard University, where he served as a Teaching Fellow for four years. Omar was awarded the Boston Music Award’s “Jazz Artist of the Year” in 2012, and in 2017, Omar was selected from an international pool of applicants to be an artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. In 2019, he was awarded the National Bandmasters Association/Revelli Award for his wind composition “Come Sunday,” becoming the first Black composer awarded the honor in the contest’s 42-year history.

Omar Thomas conducting

Omar Thomas conducting at the 2023 Reno Jazz Festival.

Now a Yamaha Master Educator, Omar has become a highly sought-after speaker and thought leader on issues of diversity and equity in music education. Most recently he served as the 2023 College Music Society National Conference Trotter Lecturer and gave the keynote speech at the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) 2023 Annual Meeting. His music has been performed in concert halls and on stages across the country and internationally, by such renowned groups as The United States Marine Band, The Houston Symphony, The Colorado Symphony, and the Showa Wind Symphony, to name a few. He has had a number of celebrated singers perform over his arrangements, including Stephanie Mills, Yolanda Adams, Nona Hendryx, BeBe Winans, Kenny Lattimore, Marsha Ambrosius, Sheila E., Leela James, Dionne Warwick, and Chaka Khan. His work is featured on Dianne Reeves’s Grammy Award-winning album, “Beautiful Life.” His big band, the 18-piece Omar Thomas Large Ensemble was formed in 2008. The group’s first album, “I Am,” debuted at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart. Their second release, “We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece In Four Movements,” has been hailed by Grammy Award-winning drummer, composer, and producer Terri Lyne Carrington as being a “thought provoking, multi-layered masterpiece” which has “put him in the esteemed category of great artists.” Says Terri Lyne: “Omar Thomas will prove to be one of the more important composer/arrangers of his time.”

Photo credits: Izzy Berdan (top); Rob Retting Photography (lower)

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