I am Ben Beaupre and upon my arrival at St. Olaf for my first ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue, I found myself wide-eyed and, I will admit, slightly intimidated by the crowd I walked into. I saw faces of educators and conductors that I have held in high regards since before I even spared the thought of joining their profession. Next to me were conductors whose writings I have read and honors choirs I have sung in. They might not appreciate the reminder but for some, their teaching skills have been on display since before I was born. All things considered, I wasn’t sure I was in the right place.
However, in just a few short days I found myself settled as a member of an intentionally giving community. Despite our diverse experiences and schools, we share common goals and a deep appreciation for the work that we each do. Strangers or co-directors, I witnessed a consistent eagerness to share ideas, find solutions, and as the saying goes, “use music to make great people.”
As an F. Melius Christiansen Scholarship recipient, I am grateful for the generosity of ACDA-MN members and friends, whose support directly benefits my students, both present and future. Whether it be my newfound appreciation for in-class yoga, expanded collection of community-building activities, or more thorough understanding of gender identity in the classroom, my students and I are positively shaped by the ideas of our Minnesota choral community.
Most inspiring to me was the unique and meaningful Director’s Chorus music we shared in together with Judy Sagen. That experience was a reminder and re-energizer on how meaningful the music-making process can be. The emotions felt in Boe Chapel are the same that our students hope for as they walk into our choir classrooms every day. How easy it can be to forget this while balancing the many other expectations of an educator. There is truly no better way to understand some of the wants and needs of our singers than to be one again.
Like the Director’s Chorus, a week of sharing left me with a fresh eagerness to start the school year. How fortunate are we to have each other to share Summer Dialogue with? Here’s to another year of countless choral moments across Minnesota!