As Day One of the 6th Biennial Andover Educators Conference comes to a close, the word that comes to mind is inspired.

1009868_10151445567332452_779859805_nFirst of all, let me just say the campus at Iowa State University is absolutely beautiful. In fact, just the drive up I-35 from the Des Moines Airport was pretty darn beautiful; lush green farm land, tons of trees, fluffy clouds … love it! And, arriving here on the Summer Solstice (not to mention the weekend of the Super Moon) was cool because it was still light out well after 9 pm. The last time I was here was several years ago while on tour with the New York City Opera, National Company. It was the dead of winter so it looked a little bit different then. This lovely lake area is literally right outside the Music Hall (Dept. of Music) and I could easily spend hours just sitting here, enjoying the peace & quiet and the swans. But I digress … back to my conference highlights for the day.

The morning began with five long time Andover Educators presenting Hour 1 of the course “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body.” I loved this concept of sharing the hour and tag teaming, so to speak. I also loved how each presenter had their own style for sharing the material. A favorite moment from their presentation today was this definition of music: “Music: an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.”

The next class for me was Hour 2, or the “Balance” hour of the course, which was also really terrific. I cannot stress enough what an opportunity it is to experience the presentation of this material by a variety of different AE’s. I’ve seen the course, 6 hours in all, presented by two different people; a flutist (twice) and a violinist. Both were outstanding. Having the opportunity to experience so many different colleagues and their style and presentation is invaluable. It will surely shape how I present the course in the future, in a new and different way.

In addition to Hours 2 – 5 of  “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body” being presented by 4 different people, simultaneously, plus the Hour 1 presentation by 5 people, we as Licensed Andover Educators are also give the choice to attend a series of Round Table Discussions. The one I attended was centered around shorter Body Mapping presentations. Listening to a table full of AE’s who have been at this for a lot longer than I have certainly gave me all kinds of insight and lots of great suggestions to incorporate into my teaching. Really inspiring. Sitting around with a group of respected colleagues and bouncing ideas around for how we do what we do is pretty awesome. A fellow AE said something which really resonated with me, and when she did, a few of us quickly started typing and scrambled for their pencils to write it down immediately. “The most secure teacher, is a teacher who learns with their students.”

I wasn’t able to catch Hours 3 and 4 of the course, but did get to Hour 5, “Legs” which was not only chocked full of great information, it was super fun, too. Something else that resonated with me today was the reminder that we must take all of our joints through their complete range of motion everyday. Not doing this is why many of us (yes, I include myself in this) experience pain, limitation and in some cases, injury. This is so very important and we need to remember this. I now have a few fun and really helpful activities to try when I present this course next month at the CSU, Summer Arts Comprehensive Flutist Seminar in Monterey Bay.

Tomorrow is really going to be action packed: Supervised Teaching/Lesson, Instrument “Petting Zoo”,  Alexander Technique lesson with Jim Brody, Muscle Function Workshop with Dr. T. Richard Nichols, and Performance Anxiety with Noa Kageyama.

Stay tuned …