Summer Dialogue scholarship recipients
(L-R) Dane Wiskow, Jamie Dickerson, Bailey Cords, Kryston Wisely, and Spencer Gillian

Dane Wiskow

Houston Public Schools

My experience at Summer Dialogue was uplifting and illuminating. Surrounded by new and familiar faces, I knew I was right where I belonged. Every person I have met at St. John’s University was open and kind, allowing me to feel welcome and well-supported. Passion for creating music and sharing our methods to students was strong throughout the whole week.

One of my highlights at Summer Dialogue was going to every session and learning new methods and strategies that I can apply into my classrooms. One of my many takeaways from the sessions was Dr. Deirdre Michael’s session, “Things Not to Do or Say in Rehearsal to Singers of All Ages.” Some of the information includes how we breathe (not sing/support) with our diaphragm, starting warm-ups with humming or “half-yawns,” and engaging with “belly breathing” and “abdominal breathing.” All of these tips were great tools and reminders for what I can do with my choirs.

Another highlight was seeing my past high school choir teacher, Mrs. Stephanie Nolting. It was very nice seeing her again and sharing how lovely our lives have been. She is one of my inspirations for how I became a music teacher and I owe her many thanks for my time with her in high school.

Lastly, I enjoyed our Directors’ Chorus Concert for All-State Choir Students. The songs we performed were powerful and a delight to perform and hear. One of my students in All-State Men’s Choir, William Carlson, loved our performance as I enjoyed his performance on Saturday. Their applause is the most powerful sound, for it is a reminder of how we as musicians and teachers have inspired and will continue to inspire our future generation.

I look forward to the next Summer Dialogue and more in the future!

Dane Wiskow
K-12 Music Teacher & Choir Director
Houston, MN

Spencer Gillian

Monticello Middle School

Summer Dialogues helps me reconnect with my “Why” and get inspiration from educators who share a love for making music with students. It’s a meeting of talented people who are passionate about teaching and love to share their expertise. As a first-year teacher, I gained so many professional contacts by attending this year, and I have built a network of support that will see me through the challenges of being a new teacher. Reading sessions gave me quality repertoire that I can take directly into the classroom. I love being able to connect with directors who serve across the state and have unique experiences to share. I get to see a wider perspective than my own school and background. This year, I particularly enjoyed the director’s chorus which was formatted as a masterclass for teachers of various ages with differing levels of experience. I learned a great deal about communicating musical ideas to an ensemble and supporting singers with intentionality of gesture. For all these reasons, I will be attending dialogues for as many years as I can!