Future Music Educators Honors Symposium

The 2016 PMEA Future Music Educators Honors Symposium (FMEHS) was held March 30th, 2016 – April 2nd, 2016, concurrent with the PMEA Annual Conference in Hershey. This year’s class was comprised of twelve outstanding high school seniors from across the state who will be heading to a college/university to major in music education. Here are thoughts from some of this year’s participants after completing the nearly three day long program. 

Information about FMEHS Registration for 2017 will be available in the late fall.

FMEHS 2016 Group Photo

Top Row (Left to Right): Kristen Johnston, Brianna Kislak, Jenn Morris, Julia Plato, Marie Dykstra, Elizabeth Anderson, Gabrielle Garcia, Brittany Mogollon

Bottom Row (Left to Right): Stephen Tsambarlis, Zachary Stola, Josh Ladonis, Trevor Ward

Future Music Educator Honors Symposium

Kris Laird, FMEHS Program Facilitator

Take a moment and reflect upon your high school and/or collegiate musical experiences, and consider how they have contributed to your love and passion for teaching music. Whether it was that championship performance in high school marching band, the passion-evoking rendition of Agnus Dei in Region Chorus, or that moment in orchestra rehearsal when every member of the violin section had the correct bowing and was able to execute that line with musical grace, our musical experiences play a role in our desire to want to share those moments with our students.

Now, reflect on the experiences you had in high school or college that prepared you for teaching music and the career path in which you find yourself today. Were there any? If so, what did they look like? When were these experiences provided to you? While I have many fond memories of the teachers and role models that have help shape me, when it comes to my teaching experiences or first real introduction to the field of music education, my mind goes to my time student teaching. While student teaching is a crucial step in the growth of any teacher, it is my opinion that we need to provide our students planning to pursue a career in music education with earlier opportunities to grow and to network as music educators.

For eight years, PMEA has been providing such an opportunity through the Future Music Educator Honors Symposium. Offered in conjunction with the annual conference, this program introduces some of the finest Pennsylvania high school seniors planning to major in music education with an up-close and personal look into what teaching music is all about. Through the symposium students are introduced to professionals in our field who share with them the realities and expectations of the daily life as a music teacher. College music students guide them through what to expect in their first two years of study and a panel of music professors offer their tips for a successful first year as a music major.

The symposium students select a diverse array of conference sessions to attend and are blended in, and begin networking with our PMEA and PCMEA members as they attend clinics and concerts throughout the three-day event. This program truly gets to the root of furthering music education among our students as it provides the participants with a unique opportunity to experience music teaching in a whole new way and to begin building relationships with their future colleagues. In many ways this program provides a “jump-start” that our students need to begin a successful career as a music educator.

Now, take a look around your classroom and/or district and consider the seniors who are, or may be, considering music education as a career and picture them in this program. With your help, PMEA can provide an opportunity to begin their path to success through participation in the 2016 Future Music Educator Honors Symposium. Pass along the application information today and watch them grow

For more information, please contact Abigail Young.

Elizabeth Anderson, Loyalsock Township HS

“Being surrounded by people young and old who share the same love of music was amazing. For once, I felt like I was not crazy. I had so many people supporting me and cheering me on to keep chasing my dreams. Through the multitude of sessions, panels, and briefings my knowledge was expanded. I learned what music education really is. It is so much more than conducting a band or choir. My mind was opened to consider the other aspects of music education. I grew so much as a person and a musician…Thank you for providing me with this experience PMEA, and the coordinators of the FMEHS. I am immensely blessed and forever grateful have been chosen for this experience I certainly would not be sitting here today as ready as I am if it were not for those four days spent in Hershey.”

Marie Dykstra, Bethel Park HS

“The experience was the absolute biggest inspiration I’ve ever experienced regarding my future profession. The sense of community I found around me was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced; every person shared the same passion as I do for music and sharing it with others. The experience not only gave me a taste of my future profession, it reassured my utter love and hope for what I will do for the rest of my life. The professional development was an extreme benefit for my future career and will hopefully help me get a job! I got to meet so many future colleagues, something most of my peers would not have a chance to do. Additionally, I was able to decide the perfect college for me by having one on one conversations with professors. The work of Nora, Kris, and Kim was passionate, helpful, and generous–I could not thank them enough for their work. I now have a true passion, a future profession, irreplaceable relationships, and a soul ready to thrive in this world as I leave high school. Thank you for giving me an experience like this. I’m so excited for the future of music education!”

Gabby Garcia, Richland HS

“I learned so many amazing things during my time at the PMEA Future Music Educators Honors Symposium. I went to many amazing, informative sessions. All of the speakers were excellent. No words can express how thankful I am for this opportunity. I have never been more sure about my decision to be a music educator until going to this conference. I am so thankful my choir director recommended the symposium. I will highly recommend this for other students at my school.”

Kristen Johnston, Sayre HS

“After such a fantastic weekend in the Honors Symposium, my decision to become a music educator has been solidified. Each session I attended from ‘The Common Mistakes of Beginning String Students’ to ‘Improvisation in the Elementary Music Classroom’ provided not only a greater understanding of what I may be teaching one day, but also a broader appreciation of the arts and the instructors that teach them… I’ll never forget the future music educator’s symposium and the wonderful experiences it gave me and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for those that made it a reality. I have no doubt that the insights I’ve gained on becoming a music educator will impact my future as a teacher, a role model and person as well.”

Brianna Kislak, Delaware Valley HS

“As I sit back in my room following the Future Music Educators Honors Symposium, I feel different; I feel more sure of myself. The last several days have been filled to the brim with informative seminars, incredible concerts, and insightful panels, and now that I am home at first I am not sure what to do. But tomorrow morning I will wake up again and walk into school with a newfound understanding and an even stronger passion for music education… The most important thing that I have taken away, however, is that my career as a music educator will influence thousands. I hope that throughout my entire career I can impart on my own students the same passion for music that my teachers have left on me. I hope to give them lessons that they can take far beyond the classroom. I am choosing a career that is vital to the next generation, and after the Symposium, I am more solidified in my decision than I ever have been.”

Josh Ladonis, Berwick Area HS

“… the people I met there I will remember forever. I also learned many skills which I

plan to use later during my career, one of them being: how to advocate for music programs. Seeing people who were in this career was also insightful. After all the best way to learn able anything is through those who are successful at what they do.”

Brittany Mogollon, Cambria Heights HS

“The Future Music Educators Honors Symposium was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had no idea what I was going to do at the symposium, or if I would get along with the other members. Little did I know that I would learn so much, and meet so many great people. The symposium really showed me what being a music educator looks like, and it strengthened my desire to become one. I realized, almost immediately, that this is where I belonged…   

I cannot express how thankful I am that I was awarded this experience. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. The friends that I made and the things I learned, have no price, but is one of the most valuable things I’ve done in my life.”

Jenn Morris, Berwick Area HS

“The Honors Symposium was easily one of the best experiences of my life and was a great way to end my PMEA career. I went into the symposium with the idea that I wanted to become a high school band director right out of college and then work myself up to a music professor. While my long term goal still is to become a college music professor, I think it would be more fun to become a middle school director beforehand. The symposium also taught me how important it is to network and get to know others in this field… Overall, through the symposium, I learned a lot about the profession that I am going into, however, the people I met was the best part. I made lifelong friends with the other symposium members and was able to meet and get to know some great directors such as Kris, Kim, and Nora. Ironically, even though the symposium was a fabulous experience, I sometimes am sad when I reflect upon it because I wish I could go back. You can expect more Berwick kids to be attending in the years to come because I had a great experience and will advocate for it forever.”

Julia Plato, Palmyra Area HS

“The PMEA Future Music Educators Honors Symposium changed my outlook on my future forever. The panels, convention, and sessions were all extremely informative and exciting, but the opportunity to meet the current and future music educators is what made this experience so incredible. Every time I had a chance to speak with a music teacher, I always heard them speak of how their job is the best one out there. They enjoy every moment and find a way to make each struggle a stepping stone in their path to success. Hearing of their passion for their career made me realize that I can make my excitement for music something that I do every day for the rest of my life. It helped me feel more confident and less afraid about my decision to major in music education… I felt more excited that music education is truly alive and thriving across the entire state of Pennsylvania. It also helped me realize that it is up to us to keep music education alive in public schools.”

Zachary Stola, Berwick Area HS

“When I walked into the Cocoa Board Room for our first meeting on Wednesday night, I was incredibly unsure about what I was going to experience. I was extremely nervous, but excited; little had been said about the FMEHS, besides little hints that I ‘wouldn’t regret it’ and it would be even more insightful than my previous experience as an All-State musician. In short: This was an awesome event I wish I could go to again… The symposium really gave me a depth of knowledge and insight that only this program could have done. Though now a memory, it is something that will remain with me through college and for the rest of my life as something eye-opening, engaging, and motivating… PMEA will hold a special place in my heart, and the FMEHS is the icing on the cake in my ending as a student. As I go off to college, I will remember all of these experiences and bring with me information I otherwise would’ve been blank on.”

Stephen Tsambarlis, Baldwin HS

“I learned so many useful tips and tricks that I could use with my ensembles now and in the future. One thing in-particular that stood out to me was the ‘Tips for a Successful Wind Ensemble’ seminar. I learned how crucial warming up is to an ensemble and how much time we should spend on it. The experience I had with Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Future Music Educators Honors Symposium is something that I hold close to my heart. I met some of the most wonderful future music educators in my program which will undoubtedly help in my future endeavors. Thank you to Nora, Kris, and Kim, whose tireless efforts made this program what it is. Thank you so much for this gracious opportunity.”

Trevor Ward, Troy Area JSHS

“A plethora information, performances, conferences and meetings may come to mind when I think about the PMEA Honors Symposium, but It can be better summarized as one of the best musical experiences in my life. The detail and instruction to one who is pursuing a career in music in amazing, even unheard of. The relationships between professors, teachers and college students that I built were also very comforting and have made me excited to move on in the next stage of my journey with friends already waiting for me… Through these experiences the symposium has cemented any and all doubts that music was what I want to do for my life. Furthermore, it gave me a special resurgence of musical passion into a soul already enthralled with music… To all who had a hand in giving me one of the greatest experiences of my life, thank you. I will be seeing you in future PMEA Festivals and Conferences. And through the experience I’ve been blessed with, maybe I’ll send my future students to the symposium, as my teacher had done with me.”