Each year, numerous students, educators, and ensembles receive scholarships from the FMC Endowment to attend conferences, graduate school, or other continuing education and performance opportunities. Most recently, two scholarships were awarded to ACDA-MN conductors enabling them to attend the National Conference in Cincinnati this past February. Below are reflections on their experience.

Matthew Kiminski

A most sincere thank you to the FMC Endowment Fund Scholarship Committee for allowing me the opportunity to attend the ACDA National Conference in Cincinnati this year! In all the conferences I’ve attended, this conference was one of the most thought-provoking and inspiring. It’s so exciting to see ACDA actively pursuing a future of choral music education that keeps authentic performance practice, the social/emotional needs of our students, and the change-making power of music at the forefront of its mission.

One of the most impactful aspects of the National Conference was the Immersion Choir in which I participated. I sang in the Black Diaspora Choir, under the direction of Dr. J. Donald Dumpson. Other immersion choirs included Vocal Jazz, Latinoamérican music, and Indigenous music. It was so deeply moving to experience such a welcoming and purposeful environment with choral educators from around the country that I now consider friends and colleagues! I’d encourage you to search “ACDA Black Diaspora Choir” on Youtube to see the transformative ‘informance’ we were able to share after just 6 hours of rehearsal. By centering diverse experts in the field and keeping the focus on educational experiences for us and our students, ACDA is living up to its vision of being an “advocate for cultural and educational change” as we realize the future of choral music.

Thank you, FMC Scholarship Committee, for continuing to provide access to life-changing experiences for educators, directors, and students across the state of Minnesota!

Benjamin Wegner

This February, I went to my first National ACDA Conference since it was in Minneapolis in 2017 and it was due in no small part to the generosity of ACDA-MN and the grant from the FMC committee. Currently, I am a Masters student in Choral Conducting. The grant made it possible to afford registration, travel to and from Cincinnati, and meals. While I was there, the most meaningful experiences were several fantastic sessions, conversations I had with peers outside of sessions, and attending monumental concerts.

The two sessions that impacted me the most were tied to Jason Max Ferdinand’s new book Teaching Beyond the Music. In the initial session that introduced the book, it was very inspiring to hear from real teachers from across the country who were implementing culturally responsive teaching within their ensembles. Between that and Hope Kesling Milthaler’s session about voicing the choir and finding the “home” for each voice, it reminded me how important culture building is within all ensembles and I evaluated how I can do that better within my undergraduate ensembles. 

Finally, it is incredible the network one can make at conferences and discussing topics one cares about with fellow directors is just as rewarding. I met up with a director of an undergraduate ensemble and talked with him about the masters thesis I’m developing regarding music literacy strategies within undergraduate choral ensembles. He talked with me about what he does and his priorities. It was very thought provoking and has already influenced how I’m planning on presenting that thesis.

In conclusion, none of these impacts would have been made possible without the FMC Endowment. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to gather with other professionals and look forward to opportunities that other directors and students will have thanks to this endowment.