I had the honor of presenting a session at ATMI (Association for Technology in Music Instruction) 2010 conference in Minneapolis, MN. I have never been to a conference of university & college professors. It was very different from K-12 educator’s or industry specific conferences that I have attended.
Sessions were basically in two categories, presentations of research on topics of music education using technology or dissemination/discussion of information from recognized experts. Most presenters were very engaging in the sessions I attended. They used well laid out slides with pertinent information that could be easily read, engaging graphics, interesting transitions, and multimedia content. There were a few where the content was excellent but the information was not presented in a very engaging manner. To be honest some sessions were difficult to sit through. It’s not that the information wasn’t interesting or useful. The presentation was plain old boring. I wondered how anyone could pay for then endure an entire semester with a professor who seemed to have the personality of a washcloth. People, drink some coffee, have some sugar. Do something!
This conference provides a valuable forum for university and college professors to present their findings. For them, this is job security or helps fulfill a requirement to attain tenure. In many instances, just getting up there was what they wanted and needed to accomplish. I would think, however, that they might be interested in getting better at it. One thing that surprised me was there were no forms available to provide feedback to the presenter or to the organizers about the presenter. I would think that a conference full of educators would consider assessment to be important. Personally, I would have brought some forms for feedback for my session had I known there were not going to be any. It was very nice of people to compliment me on my session and I do appreciate it. However, anonymous feedback can provide valuable information for a presenter and the organizers to reflect on for improvement.
Regardless of the few snoozers, most impressive were the attendees and presenters. These people are smart, really smart. They are experienced educators, industry professionals, many have taught K-12 and now teach college, they almost all have a PhD or an EdD, they are musicians and highly experienced at using technology in the music classroom & teaching technology and several were pioneers in technology integration in music education. This was a “who’s who” of music and music technology education. Did I mention they are really smart? I gained more insight and knowledge in side and hallway conversations than I have in many sessions at K-12 or industry conferences. Top it all off with how nice everyone was along with some very funny and fun people and this was a really great time. It was great to see friends & colleagues, people I haven’t seen in years and a few I have wanted to meet for years. Sprinkle on top a little business and rubbing elbows. On the people side, this conference was a cross between First Day Back From Summer Break, Girls/Boys Night Out (depending on the crowd I was with) and First Date.
The CMS/ATMI Technology Lecture/Plenary Speaker was Dr. Elaine Chew of USC (http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~echew/). Her session was entitled De-mystifying Music and Its Performance through Science and Technology. I don’t think I can describe how outstanding this presentation was in every aspect and detail. Her beautifully calm, confident manner had well placed humor. The multimedia slides and transitions to live display were outstanding and well paced. The content was so engaging and simply gorgeous to watch how she and her colleagues were able to conceive and capture a visual representation of music and human expression of music in various stages of creation and recreation. This presentation was a stunningly beautiful and a brilliant display of sheer intelligence, musicianship and grace. It left me speechless. Brava Dr. Chew.
I wish everyone who ever organizes a conference could have seen how well run this was. The brochure was a terrific lean size with a good, clear, easy to follow lay out. A large bulletin board had announcements and the sessions for each day posted clearly in large print on huge pieces of paper. The registration desk was always “manned” or “womanned” with helpful and friendly people. Every session had a person introducing the speaker. There was always AV staff at the beginning of every session making sure all went well. If there was a problem, they were right there helping fix issues even in the middle of a session. One note to consider: please have the mixing board closer to the presenter. Psssst… we are music technology specialist. We know how to work that volume slider. It’s a lot quieter to use that the volume button on the computer. I bet a few of us could even EQ our output when needed.
All in all, I give the 2010 ATMI Conference an A+. This was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.
I look forward to returning in years to come.