Crescendo Student Conference


The PMEA Crescendo Conference is

  • Designed for Middle/Junior & High School Students
  • Virtual Event
  • During The School Day
  • Focused 25 Minute Sessions
  • General Interest Topics
  • Career Focused Sessions To Meet Career Readiness Goals
  • Special Performance
  • All Sessions Will Be Available For Playback After The Live Event
  • Information on Crescendo 2025 Will Be Available in the Fall of 2024

Find Session Descriptions and More Information on Speakers Below

Time 9am-2pm LIVESTREAM Breakout Session 1 Breakout Session 2
9 – 9:25 a.m. Keynote: Defying Gravity; Gaining Leadership Momentum – Marcia Neel    
9:30 – 9:55 a.m. Breathing for Better Music-Making – David Earll The Freelance/Gigging Musician – RJ Heid Developing and Maintaining an Active Performing Career as a Full-time Music Educator – Bob Matchett
10 – 10:25 a.m. Start to DJ with Just a Phone or Tablet – DJ Hapa    
10:25 – 10:30 a.m. Five Minute Mobility for Musicians Video – Morgann Davis    
10:30 – 10:55 a.m. Variety of Career Paths: Performing, Teaching, Arranging – Ben Saylor, Joe Saylor    
11 – 11:25 a.m. The History of Hip-Hop Music and Culture – Brittany Trotter Uketastic Ukulele – Kris Gilbert STOMP-style Body Percussion – Ollie Tunmer
11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. Performance and Interview – WhoPhat Brass Band    
12:25 – 12:30 pm Morgann Davis – Second Five Minute Mobility for Musicians Video    
12:30 – 12:55 p.m. Acting, Writing & Producing for Stage, TV & Film – Stacy Chobosky    
12:55 – 1:00 p.m.  Posture for Musicians – Courtney Coffey    
1:00 – 1:25 p.m. Conducting 101 – Patricia Cornett    
1:30 – 1:55 p.m. Taking Charge of Your Musical Journey – Stephen Cox    







9:00 – 9:25 a.m.

Defying Gravity; Gaining Leadership Momentum – Marcia Neel
Successful student leaders know that networking within a school, or connecting with others in a community, is more like a marathon than a sprint. Networking leads to building quality relationships. Quality relationships lead to the establishment of mutual trust and ultimately, trust leads to support. Once trust is in place, you will have put others at ease and in doing so, they will become more open to all that you represent.

So how do we cultivate relationships through trust? It’s important to understand that people who engender trust exhibit common characteristics and we will explore those traits in this session. The beauty is that in demonstrating these attributes to others, they will be demonstrated back to you in return. We will close with a fun, group activity challenge.


9:30 – 9:55 a.m.

Breathing for Better Music-Making – David Earll

You’ve heard it before: Take a bigger breath; You need breath support; Breathe from your belly, but don’t move your shoulders! But – how can you do any of these things? This session will give you the tools to tackle the single most important fundamental for woodwind players, brass players, and singers – breathing! You’ll learn about how our bodies breathe, how to calm your breathing while you practice and perform, how to perform with your best sound, and gain the confidence you need to become a better performer.

The Freelance/Gigging Musician – RJ Heid

A discussion on how to become and sustain being a full time Musician and Music Educator without a primary employer.

Developing and Maintaining an Active Performing Career as a Full-time Music Educator – Bob Matchett

The session will focus on: ways to continue to grow as a performer while teaching full time, successfully balancing time as an educator and performer, networking within to find work as a performer, and the concept of using “found time” to better yourself as a musician.


10-10:25 a.m.

Start to DJ with Just a Phone or Tablet – DJ Hapa

In this hands on session, DJ HAPA aka The DJ Coach will be breaking down some initial steps to be able to Start to DJ. The session is a taste of the Start to DJ Program that is being introduced to schools throughout the country in an effort to expose more students to the art of DJing.


10:25 – 10:30 a.m.

Five Minute Mobility for Musicians Video – Morgann Davis

This brief movement session will help students prevent injury, improve breathing and refocus using seated and standing exercises that are easy to do in any long rehearsal or practice session.


10:30 – 10:55 a.m.

Variety of Career Paths: Performing, Teaching, Arranging – Ben Saylor, Joe Saylor

As two brothers who grew up in a musical family but chose different career paths, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of various avenues in the music and education industries. Ben Saylor teaches music at an elementary school and arranges music. Joe Saylor performs as a jazz drummer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Both had to learn how to balance these careers with family, as well as other interests and ambitions. They will discuss how they have navigated these challenges and share insights for students who hope to pursue similar goals.


11 – 11:25 a.m.

The History of Hip-Hop Music and Culture – Brittany Trotter

Within the span of five decades, Hip-hop has grown from a new art form to a culture-defining superpower. Join Dr. Trotter as she discuss the evolution of hip hop and its impact on American music and culture.

STOMP-style Body Percussion – Ollie Tunmer

Stomping, clapping and everything inbetween! This fun, high-energy session will include rhythm-based warms, the learning of a funk style routine, rhythms from a range of cultures and participants’ own ideas.

Deliver by ex-STOMP performer Ollie Tunmer, this session will get you moving and grooving.

Uketastic Ukulele – Kris Gilbert

BRING A UKE! This session will focus on playing the songs you know and love! We will cover beginning and intermediate chords, tablature and soloing. Resources will be shared for participants future use. We will have tons of fun jamming as well!


11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.

Performance and Interview with the WhoPhat Brass Band

WhoaPhat brass band is based out of Philadelphia and is known for bringing the energy to every party, parade, festival or wedding. They are known for participating in the famous New Years Parade, along with playing for celebrities such as Howard Stern and Paul McCartney. After their performance, Crescendo attendees will have a chance to ask them questions.


12:25 – 12:30 p.m.

Second Five Minute Mobility for Musicians Video – Morgann Davis

This brief movement session will help students prevent injury, improve breathing and refocus using seated and standing exercises that are easy to do in any long rehearsal or practice session.


12:30 – 12:55 p.m.

Acting, Writing & Producing for Stage, TV & Film – Stacy Chbosky

Screenwriter and TV producer (and former actress) Stacy Chbosky will discuss how to break into professional writing and acting. Topics will include whether or not to study drama in college and how to segue from studying writing and acting to working as a professional writer and actor. Stacy will take Q&A’s from the audience – and she is happy to discuss meeting Ariana Grande while working on the pilot of “VicTORIous” ;)


12:55 – 1:00 p.m.

Posture for Musicians – Courtney Coffey

There are many things that contribute to excellent musicianship, but one often gets overlooked–the posture! Posture is the key to opening airways, increasing tone and endurance, and more! Come improve your playing instantly with this 5 minute workshop.


1:00 – 1:25 p.m.

Conducting 101 – Patricia Cornett

Students will explore the role and life of conductors and how they influence sound. Participants will explore the development of a vivid aural image, and the fundamentals of how the body works in this fast paced session.


1:30 – 1:55 p.m.

Taking Charge of You Musical Journey – Stephen Cox

Students have the enormous power and responsibility to shape the future of their music education and of the musical ensembles in which they participate.

How do you exercise control over your destiny and how do you help shape the success of your school and ensembles? Today we will discuss student ownership and leadership in music programs with ideas, strategies, and time for questions.

Stacy Chbosky

Stacy Chbosky is a writer, producer and actress, best known for “The Poughkeepsie Tapes,” “Waco: The Aftermath,” and “Joe Pickett.” She is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning children’s book, “Who Owns the Sun?” published when Stacy was just 14 years old (and still in print today). The book was adapted into a short film by Disney Educational and a ballet (from Pittsburgh Youth Ballet) narrated by James Earl Jones. In 1991, Stacy was named one of the 20 “Best and Brightest High School Seniors” in the country by USA Today. After graduating Valedictorian from Upper St. Clair High School, Stacy studied musical theater at Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her BFA in 1995. Stacy frequently collaborates with her husband, John Erick Dowdle, and her brother-in-law, Drew Dowdle. Before Stacy pivoted from acting to writing, the Brothers Dowdle killed her 5 different times in 4 different movies. As of 2023, the trio hosts “The Showrunner Show” podcast and are developing a true-crime limited series at Hulu.

Courtney Coffey
Courtney Coffey has been involved in the marching arts for over a decade as a performer, instructor, designer, choreographer, and tech. The journey to becoming a leader in the marching arts space after coming up through a small and under funded program led Courtney to create Simply Colorguard, a central location for students and instructors alike to have access to information and tools that are not normally accessible.
Patricia Cornett

Patricia Cornett is the Director of Bands at Temple University where she conducts the Wind Symphony and teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting. Previously she was Director of Bands at Cal State Fullerton where she conducted the Wind Symphony, Symphonic Winds, and taught courses in conducting and music education. Dr. Cornett was also a high school band director for five years in New England. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan, Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, and Bachelor of Music dual degree in music education and saxophone performance from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Stephen Cox
Stephen Cox is a highly passionate music educator, band director, teacher, speaker, clinician, and a halfway decent juggler to boot. Having experienced the power of music education as a student, Mr. Cox has dedicated his life to the cause. Growing up in rural Texas, he recently spent a decade teaching in Eastland, TX, an historic rural town with a population of about 4,000. While the Eastland bands garnered state and national recognition as an exemplary small school program, dedication to the community, students, and celebrating what makes rural education special is what led to Mr. Cox to be recognized as the 2022 Grammy Music Educator of the Year.

Since this recognition, he has turned his attention to reviving the band program on the Fox Tech campus in downtown San Antonio, TX, relaunching the concert band program, jazz program, and starting a innovative popular music program. He travels frequently as a band clinician and speaker on the topics of student motivation, technology, rural education, jazz/popular music education, and small school band pedagogy.

Mr. Cox is married to Visual Arts Educator Stephanie Renee Cox and together they raise three children, Aubree, Chuck, and Caesar.

Tik Tok/Instagram: StephenIsSleepingIn

Morgann Davis
Morgann Davis operates Davis Flute Studio in Lancaster, PA and teaches at Millersville University and Franklin & Marshall College. She is a certified yoga teacher and meditation instructor, and has completed trainings in anatomy and myofascial release. Morgann blogs regularly about teaching and working as a musician, and enjoys working with musicians to address the physical and mental challenges of performance.
David Earll

Dr. David Earll serves as the Professor of Tuba/Euphonium at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.  Additionally, David also performs with The Northern Lights Duo, The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra and CCO Brass Quintet as Acting Principal Tubist, Sam & Dave’s Brass Extravaganza, with The Syracuse Symphony/Symphoria, and the Ithaca Brass and has also performed with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, the Tallgrass Brass Band, the University of South Dakota Faculty Brass Quintet, and the Paris-based Opus 333 – Quatuor de Saxhorns. Before his appointment at Ithaca College, Dr. Earll served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and at Mesa Community College.

David maintains an active schedule as a soloist, chamber musician, and clinician.  Beyond his active work in North America, David makes regular appearances abroad, and has performed recently in Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Israel.

David has received awards for his musical artistry and his research, including the 2016 International Clifford Bevan Award for Excellence in Research and the Northern Trust/Piper Enrichment Award.

David Earll is an International Willson Artist and performs exclusively on Willson tubas.

For more information, please visit

Kris Gilbert
Kris Gilbert is a multi-faceted educator and musician from upstate NY. She received her Bachelor’s in Music Education from the Crane School of Music, her Masters in Music Composition from Binghamton University, and her CAS in College Teaching from SUNY-Potsdam. Kris has taught for 26 years in upstate NY and currently teaches 6-12 Modern Band, Co-Teachers HS Band and HS Chorus, and teaches 6-8 Chorus in the Windsor Central School District in Windsor, NY. Kris is a highly sought-after clinician, guest conductor, accompanist, music director, composer, arranger, and technology trainer. She is a Google certified educator, Level 1 and 2 as well as a Google certified trainer. In addition she is also a certified Apple educator. Her educational interests include music technology, technology in education, instructional design, modern band/popular music education and instrumental music education. Her major instruments include: flute/woodwinds, piano, electric bass, ukulele, trombone and percussion. Minor instruments include: Guitar, High Brass, and Low Brass. In her free time, she has music directed over 140 musicals in the Binghamton, NY area.
RJ Heid

Ronald J. Heid (RJ) is a Pittsburgh-based Musician and Educator. He currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Percussion at Seton Hill University, Grove City College and Percussion Instructor at Franklin Regional Middle/High School. Regional theater work includes Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Front Porch Theatricals, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Robert Morris University. RJ is a highly sought after drummer, having had the privilege of playing concerts, masterclasses and cabarets alongside the legendary Stewart Copeland (the Police), Mendelssohn Choir, Composers Jeanine Tesori (Shrek), Stephen Flaherty (Seussical, Ragtime), John McDaniel (The Rosie O’Donnell Show) and upcoming fall of 2023 Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell); Artists Billy Porter, Kelly O’Hara, Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee, Clay Aiken, and many others. As a studio musician, RJ has collaborated on many percussion, pop, folk, etc.. compositions/recordings, and is a regular performer with Commercial Entertainment Bands across the country. RJ holds a M.M. in Percussion Performance and B.M. in Music Therapy from Duquesne University.

Bob Matchett

Mr. Matchett is a music educator and former director of bands at Seneca Valley Senior High School in Harmony, PA. At Seneca Valley, Mr. Matchett has conducted the Wind Ensemble, Concert Winds, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble I, and the “Raider” Marching Band. Additionally, he has taught AP Music Theory, Basic Music Theory, Jazz Improvisation and low brass lessons. Currently, Mr. Matchett is the music teacher at CV Elementary School in Zelienople, PA.

As a freelance trombonist, Mr. Matchett has performed and toured with many groups including: the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, The Temptations, The Pittsburgh “CLO” Broadway Series, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Kristin Chenoweth, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, The Altoona Symphony, Warren Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, the Butler County Symphony Orchestra and numerous others. Mr. Matchett has also had the privilege of recording with Nancy Wilson (where he can be heard on the Grammy Award winning album, “Turned to Blue”), the New York Voices, the Three Rivers Jazz Orchestra, the Billy Price Band, The Vindy’s, and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Robert is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Trombone Project and The Bone Forum.

Mr. Matchett has been teaching private lessons since 1990. He has been an adjunct faculty member at Slippery Rock University, Youngstown State University, Messiah University, Westminster College, and Thiel College. Mr. Matchett received his BME and MM degrees from Youngstown State University and done additional studies at Ithaca College, Messiah College, and the Eastman School of Music.

Marcia Neel

Dynamic, energetic, exciting — these are the words used to describe Marcia Neel, one of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field of music education today.  This began years ago when she was a secondary music educator whose ensembles were known for consistent quality and attention to artistic detail.

She has carried that philosophy and constant search for perfection into everything she does — particularly when it comes to the complex art of school- and district-wide program building, where all of the pieces relating to standards-based curriculum, including instruction, scheduling, recruitment and retention, professional development and student achievement, come together to form the ideal, sequential program.

Neel cares about serving schools and school districts by providing just this type of guidance. From building or refining course syllabi to organizing a K-12 Master Music Education Plan that results in increasing the numbers of students served through an enhanced, relevant curriculum, Neel has done it all as the Secondary Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator for the Clark County School District (CCSD), headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the course of her 14-year tenure, she led the Secondary Arts Education program to an astounding level of growth and enrollment. The standards-based Mariachi Program, implemented in 2002 in the CCSD, has grown from 250 students to almost 7,000 today. Neel is currently president of Music Education Consultants and senior director of education for Yamaha Corporation of America.

Neel’s enthusiasm for engaging more children in music-making is contagious, and providing these opportunities through an organized, well thought-out vision and unified approach is her passion.

Hapa Perdue
DJ HAPA sits at the intersection of music, education, and technology. He’s shared stages with artists as diverse as his musical selection: Michael Jackson to Snoop to Miles Davis’ Electric Band. Dubbed “The DJ Coach,” HAPA leverages his 25+ years of DJ and entrepreneurial experience blended with a sociology degree from UCLA to mentor aspiring DJs from 192 countries with his industry leading, project learning based curriculum and book. With a mission to help others find their passion and unlock their potential, HAPA creates access through building programs for aspiring DJs in schools (Start to DJ Program) and online in virtual reality (TRIBE XR).
Joe Saylor, Ben Saylor

Born and raised in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Joe Saylor is one the most dynamic and exciting percussionists of the modern era. Playing music since the age or three, Saylor has had an extremely distinguished career in which he has traveled the world sharing his love of music with artists of all kinds. Since 2015, Saylor has been a member of The Late Show Band and can be seen nightly on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Saylor is an alumnus of both Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School.

Ben Saylor studied Jazz Performance and Education at William Paterson University of New Jersey and earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2016 respectively. He has arranged music for marching bands and other school ensembles, the PMEA All-State Conference, Indonesian pop singer Eva Celia, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Saylor remains active as a composer/arranger – publishing projects on Twitter and Instagram as @bensaylormusic. He also serves as the music director at Word of Grace Fellowship in Indiana. Saylor was the Band Director at United High School for five years and now teaches music at Horace Mann Elementary School in Indiana, PA. He lives in Indiana with his wife, five children, and American Brittany.

Brittany Trotter
Prize-winning flutist Dr. Brittany Trotter leads a diverse career as an educator, soloist, and collaborator. She is the Assistant Professor of Flute and Program Director of Woodwinds at the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton, California. Known for her versality and nuance, she performs in the flute sections of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Stockton Symphony Orchestra, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, and Colour of Music Festival Orchestra.

Equally versed in post-classical contemporary music, Brittany has performed contemporary works and presented workshops at festivals and conventions including the New Jersey Flute Fair, Kentucky Flute Fair, Florida Flute Association Convention, Rochester Flute Fair, Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention, and the National Flute Association Convention where she was a featured soloist in the 2020 virtual summer series celebration concert series. Brittany won prizes in competitions held by the Music Teachers National Association’s Woodwinds Young Artist Competition for the states of West Virginia (2017, 2016), Wyoming (2015, 2014), and Mississippi (2009) and was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

In demand as a clinician, she frequently performs, teaches, and serves as a guest lecturer at universities across California and the United States. Recent appearances include Bowling Green State University, Tennessee Tech University, Virginia Tech University, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Southwestern Oklahoma University and Missouri Southern State University.

A Recipient of the NFA’s 2020 Graduate Research Competition for her dissertation entitled, “Examining Music Hybridity and Cultural Influences in Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine and Fanmi Imen”, Brittany continues to actively study the merging of western classical music, diverse culture, and modern popular music. Recently, She has presented a lecture recital entitled “Flute & Hip Hop” as part of her artist in residence with Unisound of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and at the 2022 National Flute Association Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

Devoted to modeling engagement in the broader community, Brittany serves as co-program chair of the Mid-Atlantic Flute Convention, National Flute Association’s (NFA) Junior Soloist Competition Coordinator, and serves on the development committee of the Umoja Flute Institute, NFA’s career and artistic development committee, and publicity chair for the Flute New Music Consortium.

A native from Laurel, Mississippi, Brittany has received degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (B.M., B.M.E.), University of Wyoming (M.M.), and West Virginia University (D.M.A., Certificate of University Teaching).

Ollie Tunmer
Ollie is a drummer, percussionist and the director of ‘Beat Goes On’, a percussion workshop company specialising in STOMP-style Body Percussion and Afro-Brazilian Percussion. They deliver workshops and PD sessions throughout the UK and internationally.

Ollie is a former cast member of the hit show STOMP and their sister show ‘The Lost & Found Orchestra’. He is also an ex secondary music teacher and combines these to create experiences that are beneficial, memorable and great fun!

WhoaPhat Brass Band
WhoaPhat brass band is based out of Philadelphia and is known for bringing the energy to every party, parade, festival or wedding. They are known for participating in the famous New Years Parade, along with playing for celebrities such as Howard Stern and Paul McCartney. A wide array of events have had the privilege of hearing their music, and they hope you enjoy as much as they did.