November 20th was a classic example of a Minnesotan winter day, and as I ran from the car to St. Andrew’s Church to avoid extra time in the cold, I was warmed by my own excitement: today was the day of the ACDA convention! This was my first time attending an ACDA conference, so I honestly did not know what to expect. Immediately upon entering, and throughout my experience, I was met by friendly, and warm professionals who were eager to help and happy to talk. The atmosphere of the entire weekend was indeed a warm one – students felt like initiates into a group of friends and a network of betterment.

I immensely enjoyed the Student Symposium, and was amazed at the quality of the speakers and the amount of wisdom they had. Each session was truly inspirational, and sparked conversation and new thoughts among members of my group. I felt that each session was practical and challenging. These teachers spoke from personal experience, and I know that I can apply what they taught in a classroom with the specific methods they supplied. However, each speaker gave a challenge to go above and beyond. From teaching traditional African songs by rote to requiring students to take ownership of their own musicianship, each session gave students a new perspective to consider and a new tool to use.

Likewise, the performances were beneficial. It is rare to see such a diverse array of groups performing in succession – the experience was delightful and eye-opening. I am grateful to have seen various age groups of different demographics from a variety of areas within Minnesota. This unique feature allowed the audience to tangibly grasp what resources, methodology, and students come to specific areas (urban vs. suburban, public vs. private) and to see what a tremendous impact music teachers can have on those students. I was particularly impressed by the choir from Minneapolis Roosevelt High School. This director used the students’ unique skills and passions to create a fun and challenging concert that required musicianship and creativity.

Opportunities to interact with groups like VocalEssence was a treat, and throughout the experience I felt the distinct honor of being connected with an association that is in connection and community with such incredible musicians and educators. Membership in ACDA is not just a position, but an opportunity to enter into a thriving community of educators who work together to create a professional network. As a student, it is exciting to realize the possibilities of the future with this organization. The teaching profession can be a lonely one, but with this community I am confident I will be able to have all the resources I need. I can see that at any level of my career, I will be able to learn and extend my abilities through the opportunities offered by ACDA. As a first experience as a future teacher with ACDA, I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from the conference experience, and I am excited by the future possibilities of growth with this organization.

Jaclyn Anderson