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Music Faculty Present and Connect at UMEA Conference

From elementary school teachers to professors at universities to budding music education students, a close-knit community of music educators come to the Utah Music Educators Association (UMEA) conference to learn, inspire, and connect. Several BYU students, alumni, faculty, and retirees attended the conference, and three faculty—Professors Nathan Hofheins, Erin Bailey, and Sam Tsugawa—presented ideas and tried-and-true techniques aimed at helping music educators support and inspire their students every day.

The Presentations

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Headshot of Prof. Nathan Hofheins, assistant professor, commercial music.
Photo by Image used with permission of Nathan Hofheins.

Professor Nathan Hofheins’s presentation was called “Inspiring Music Creation Using Affordable Technology.” Professor Hofheins has had many interactions with high school students who are eager to create music, yet often don’t know how to start or where to find the necessary tools. Professor Hofheins says, “I wanted to demonstrate for [teachers] a really user-friendly way of creating music using a digital audio workstation.” Set up with his laptop, a MIDI keyboard, and an overhead camera, Professor Hofheins walked the teachers through the creation of an orchestral piece. He hopes that with access to music composition resources, students will have ample opportunities to be creative.

Dr. Sam Tsugawa presented “Stories From the Orchestra Room,” with Ed Candland (a colleague from Utah Tech University). They shared their experiences growing up as brass players and finding their passion for teaching in the orchestra classroom. Dr. Tsugawa and Candland shared tips they discovered throughout their combined 60 years of teaching orchestra.

In a separate presentation, Dr. Tsugawa also presented practices and approaches to action research—a type of research where teachers research their own teaching practices in their classrooms to determine strategies for improving their teaching. During the conference, Dr. Tsugawa was inducted into the Utah Music Educators Association Hall of Fame, in recognition of his lifetime career achievements in teaching and service over the past thirty years.

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From left to right: Michael Stone (western division president, National Association for Music Education), Sam Tsugawa, and Rob Schmidt (president, UMEA).
Photo by Photo used with permission from Sam Tsugawa.
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Brooke Scott (left) presented with Dr. Bailey (right) at the UMEA conference.
Photo by Image used with permission from Erin Bailey

Dr. Erin Bailey presented a session on promoting psychological well-being in music classrooms. Former student Brooke Scott, who helped Dr. Bailey research well-being, joined the presentation. Dr. Bailey describes self-determination theory as a theory of motivation that states all humans have three basic psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness or belonging, and competence. “Our whole session was [about] this theory, but also about sharing ways that we can make our classroom spaces more supportive of these three needs.” The session was unique because Dr. Bailey was able to speak about her research and teaching experiences, while Brooke Scott, who is now a choir and orchestra teacher in the Wasatch school district, was able to share how she implemented principles of self-determination theory in her classroom.

The Value of UMEA Conference


Professor Hofheins values UMEA for its role in inspiring and supporting current music educators. He says, “To be able to go down there and be with all of these great people and inspiring speakers . . . is a real boost for the music educators who have such a profound influence on youth.”

Although Dr. Tsugawa presents at many conferences across the nation, UMEA is unique because it is full of Dr. Tsugawa’s friends, colleagues, and past students. “What's unique about the UMEA conferences [is that] these are friends that I've taught with for almost 40 years. I have enjoyed the bonding and friendships made there.”

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“What's unique about the UMEA conferences [is that] these are friends that I've taught with for almost 40 years. I have enjoyed the bonding and friendships made there.”
–Sam Tsugawa
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Dr. Bailey loves the sense of community she finds at UMEA and the chance that music educators have to bring their careers full circle at the conference. When Dr. Bailey was a new music educator, she recalls, “I would go to that conference with my notebook and I would take furious notes on everything because, as a new teacher, I was just soaking it all in.” Now as a music educator with more experience, she presents at the conference and gives back. “[UMEA] is a special place,” she says.

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