I Can’t Wait to Get This Year Started!

brandon-berger-144x180ACDA of Minnesota’s Summer Dialogue offers a unique opportunity for choir directors from around the state to collaborate and connect in preparation for each school year. Being a recent college graduate, Summer Dialogue also offers those of us who are new to education the opportunity to meet and network with many of these other choir directors through a variety of different workshops and reading sessions. This past summer marked my second dialogue, and I left feeling just as refreshed and excited as when I left my first one over a year ago.

This year’s Summer Dialogue was especially important because of the focus of the week, diversity in Minnesota choral programs. Instead of shying away from what can easily be seen as a tougher issue facing educators today, ACDA of MN stood right up and brought this topic into the forefront of the discussion. By bringing in a wide variety of clinicians to offer different perspectives, we as choral directors were able to talk about a wide variety of issues we face and also brainstorm potential solutions to them. All of this could be done while maintaining a respectful environment where no topic was left off the table. This is truly relevant in a world where civil rights and social justice are at the forefront of almost every news story, and I commend all of those involved in the planning process for making this incredibly important issue the main topic of discussion throughout the week.

In addition to the enriching dialogue and music reading sessions, we were also given the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Director’s Chorus. The premise is simple, it is a choir of choir directors, but it offers us as educators the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of our students and renews our perspective of what they see in us as directors. My favorite part about singing in the Director’s Chorus is the final performance we give for the students involved in the All-State Choir camps. This unique concert gives them as our students the opportunity to listen to us as teachers sing for them as a choir. Our guest conductor was vibrant and refreshing and the repertoire was challenging and rewarding. The Directors’ Chorus is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions of Summer Dialogue!

During this year’s Dialogue I was fortunate enough to benefit from the FMC Endowment Fund to help with the cost of the convention. As a scholarship recipient I was required to volunteer my time to help with a variety of different tasks throughout the week. This was a small price to pay for the help I received in funding! Through this work opportunity I was able to meet even more people than last year and was given the unique responsibility of seeing how Dialogue works from an insider’s perspective. I can honestly say that the amount of time and effort that those who organize this convention put in to make it run as smoothly as possible is extraordinary and that it was really a treat to be a part of it all.

As we departed after the final sessions and concerts, I left Summer Dialogue feeling incredibly excited about this upcoming school year and also excited about the new connections I created. This is a feeling I still carry with me weeks later, even as we all start our workshops and beginning of the year conferences. While I can’t wait to get this year started, I also can’t wait until next summer when we get to reunite again for what I’m sure will be another great Summer Dialogue.

Brandon Berger
St. Michael-Albertville High School