Great Time to Teach Music

Mike Lawson • Perspective • March 1, 2019

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I’m fresh off two amazing “MEA” conferences where, as executive director of TI:ME (, I oversee the production of professional development training sessions that teach music educators to integrate technology into the music classroom.

The organization’s 2019 events are sponsored by IK Multimedia, SBO, Music First, Sweetwater, Hal Leonard Corp, Soundtrap, AVID, Samson, and Romeo Music. We hold our busiest two conferences nearly back-to-back, making for a grueling travel schedule in January and February.

First, there is the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, and that is just days before the Ohio Music Educators Association conference. At Winter NAMM, SBO was joined by an awesome new team of music educators, with one returning to lead the charge, Dr. George Hess, who orchestrated our blitz of the show exhibit floor in search of amazing new tools for teachers to use in their music programs. With this fresh set of eyes on NAMM, they found some really cool things, which you’ll see in this issue’s cover feature. The innovation at NAMM, with an eye toward music education, never ceases to amaze me each year. Some things are just ingenious “Why didn’t I think of that?” products, and others are improvements to existing ideas or technology. Has there ever been a better time to be a music teacher, with all of the amazing tools, resources, instruments, and more available to you? For that matter, has there ever been a better time to be the student of teachers who use these new tools for innovation in classroom learning? I don’t think so.

Two days after NAMM, I flew to the frozen sub-zero tundra that is Cleveland, Ohio for OMEA and the TI:ME Central Regional Conference. In spite of the weather there were only a couple of canceled sessions, and in all, TI:ME delivered over 1200 professional development training hours on a wide range of topics integrating technology into the music classroom.

And a few days after I was home from Ohio, I flew to the much-warmer San Antonio, Texas, for the Texas Music Educators Association conference. This show is massive, 500,000 square feet of exhibits, plus concerts, professional development sessions of all kinds, and of course, the annual TI:ME Pre-Conference Day, held on Wednesday, February 13, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which is attached to the Gonzales Convention Center downtown. This year, we had 440 teachers who paid for the extra day of training, followed by an awesome reception in the Lonesome Dove Room along the San Antonio River Walk at the convention center, where TI:ME had Gavin Tabone of the Barton Hills Choir ( give a Q&A keynote, followed by the gathering of nine of TI:ME’s previous Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year recipients, with this year’s honor going to Shawna Longo, from the very music tech-savvy State of New Jersey.

Throughout the week, TI:ME delivered over 3400 professional development hours of training to the attendees who attended sessions held on the pre-conference day through the final day on Saturday. You know what’s really exciting about conference season and helping to produce these “PD” sessions? Seeing the awesome enthusiasm from music educators at all levels, from primary grades, through middle school, through high school, through college programs. They show up interested, ready to learn, with questions, they take notes, hang around after to ask questions, and really want to make their programs better.

When teachers have an infectious excitement about music and intense desire to learn better methods to teach with, it flows into their classrooms, their curriculum, lesson plans, and ultimately, their students. That is exciting, and encouraging. Stay curious, keep learning, and share that knowledge. Your students notice.



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