Note from the Executive Director:

Your ongoing donations to the FMC Endowment Fund support these and other scholarship recipients throughout the year.  Since our first scholarship award in 1997, 470 ACDA-MN members and their students have received scholarship awards of over $264,000.  In 2019-20 we expect to distribute 60 scholarship awards totaling close to $25,000.

Thank you to these scholarship recipients who offered a response to these recent scholarship awards from the FMC Endowment Fund Committee:

[toggle expand=0 title=’Next Direction National Student Leadership Conference’]

Joshua Kainz

St. Michael Albertville High School
Joseph Osowski and Brandon Berger, advisors

I just want to thank you for letting me attend this wonderful camp.  We learned a ton of real insights on what it means to be a music educator, from how to manage the classroom, to the basics of conducting.  I even got hands-on time with the student choir to conduct one of our pieces! Working with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe was an experience that I will never forget.  His personable, kind, and energetic nature created an open environment where people were encouraged to make mistakes and ask questions.

This camp reinforced the many reasons why I want to go into music education.  I highly suggest attending this event if you are able or just thinking about music as a career.


Jack Slavik

Andover High School
Melanie Kjellberg and Shaun Halland, advisors

I am so grateful for your scholarship to attend the Next Direction High School Choral Leadership Conference.  It is so important to continue to encourage young people to sing and I am thankful for your part in that. The four days I spent were transformational in how I view choir and leadership.  We had inspiring lectures about having a positive mindset and classroom management, along with valuable small group time receiving feedback on our conducting. Sharing this experience with other young people who share my passion for music created a comfortable environment where I was able to grow in my leadership abilities.  Furthermore, the mentors were genuinely excited to work with us and their energy was palpable.

I left this conference with many strong new friendships, a deeper passion for music, and security that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I am so excited to return to the choir room equipped with new tools to contribute to my ensemble. Thank you so much for this opportunity that I hope will continue to inspire a new generation of choral musicians.


[toggle expand=0 title=’Summer Dialogue Student Conductor’]

Michael McKenzie

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter

For the past few summers my Director from Gustavus, Dr. Brandon Dean, has asked me to represent Gustavus at the student conducting workshop, and I have never been able to make it work as I have spent my summers back home in Massachusetts. Three years in a row I had to decline, and this time I was moving out to Minnesota permanently to start a new job, and I was thrilled that I was finally able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Like the past four years I did have a conflict arise with this year’s summer dialogue, which was new teacher orientation, but when I saw Sigrid Johnson was the clinician I knew that I had to find a way to make it work. I first met Sigrid Johnson this past winter when I traveled to the National ACDA conference in Kansas City, Missouri. I sang in the director’s chorus and absolutely loved working with her. Later in the conference I was given the opportunity to meet her, I had the pleasure of sitting next to her when the Angelica Cantanti Treble Singers performed at the conference. After every performance was done, she would turn to me and ask me questions about the performance; I was terrified to have a conversation about music with a giant of the musical community. Instead, the conversations were eye-opening and I got to see how the mind of a genius conductor and educator worked. Getting to see her in that space again this summer only affirmed the deep respect I have for her, and the opportunities I have had to learn from her. Her generosity made being in these very vulnerable situations feel safe and comfortable. Her lessons are ones that will stick with me throughout my career, for me the crux of those lessons being, “less is more”.

Aside from the unbelievable opportunities to conduct and learn from a master teacher, summer dialogue provided me answers to questions that had been stuck with me. As a new teacher entering a small program, I was terrified about how to build a program. I was grappling with how to provide the best education to a small group of singers who deserved the same experience as if there were 100 of them. Attending the sessions by Bridget Sweet, and the opportunity to pick her brain about my new job, provided me the solace and confidence I needed to craft a plan to provide those students with the education they deserve, and more so how to empower the voices of any group of singers. Getting to go deeper into rehearsal techniques with Dr. Culloton and reaffirm by beliefs and the importance of effective programming with Dr. Amundson were two other resources that set my mind on the right track to go into this new job with excitement and fervor rather than hesitation or concern.

Overall, the experience I had made me ready to teach, and it reignited the fire I needed to make this first year of teaching a great one. I have loved getting to reconnect with friends and mentors as well as meet new ones. I am already excited to come back next year with new perspectives and new question knowing that I have my Minnesota ACDA community there to help me find the answers.


[toggle expand=0 title=’Summer Dialogue Scholarship Recipient’]

Dylan Sauder

Recent graduate, University of Northwestern-St. Paul

Welcomed and encouraged.

These are the two predominant words that come to mind when I reflect on my first year attending Summer Dialogue. As a recent college graduate just starting out as a choral teacher, I’m still getting used to the idea of being on the other side of the podium. After spending the week surrounded by choral directors of all levels of experience, however, I feel I have been properly welcomed into the wonderful and wacky world that exists here.

I especially enjoyed the intentionality of the first evening, dialoguing with many fellow young teachers about the struggles we experience and then listening to the wisdom and advice of veteran educators—not only on classroom-related topics, but also on healthily balancing our jobs, our passion for music, and our everyday lives. There was something equal parts exciting and terrifying about the number of us in the group with 0-4 years’ experience, but the obvious support and encouragement of our experienced mentors put any fears at ease. Additionally, there was something comforting in recognizing that all these choral legends were once as green in this field as us. These first conversations helped set the tone for the week. I took every chance I had to sit by someone new and found everyone more than willing to connect, share their stories, and offer their two cents on any given topic.

It’s an interesting and humbling thing, to complete a college degree and realize you’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to know about your chosen career. How beneficial it was, therefore, to learn from and alongside amazing educators on topics ranging from utilizing movement in rehearsal to infusing social justice into our programs. After so many years of hypothetical scenarios as a college student, I found a fresh excitement in taking notes on ideas and techniques with specific, real groups of students in mind. What a privilege it was to sing together in the Director’s Chorus and to thus be reminded what joy and beauty led us into this career in the first place. And, of course, who can forget the most raucous times of camaraderie-building that occurred: each night of Afterglow. The presentations at Dialogue got the wheels of my mind turning with ideas for the fall, but it was the conversations that took place in between and after that calmed my specific worries with sound advice and truth.

A third word comes to mind when I consider my first Summer Dialogue, one which proved to be the most valuable facet of the week: community. Though I felt so new all week long, I also recognized that I had discovered something special: a vast support system of role models and cheerleaders with so much knowledge and wisdom to share. Throughout the week, I was taken under wings no longer as a student, but as a young music educator. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend Summer Dialogue—what a baptism into this field it was!