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Thursday, June 28, 2012 - July News

Our music education program is recognized as one of the finest in the country and its international reputation continues to grow. This month, Music Education Program Coordinator Associate Professor Deborah Blair will travel to Thessaloniki, Greece to the 2012 World Conference of the International Society of Music Education (ISME). She will present a research paper on supporting the development of teacher identity through reflective practice at the Music in Schools and Teacher Education Commission (MISTEC). Deb will also present a teacher workshop at the main ISME conference on teaching jazz for elementary school children.

Also attending the conference and presenting will be OU music education doctoral students Shinko Kondo and Spiros Xydas. Shinko will speak on “Musical Communication: Scaffolding in Beginning Piano Learning." It is a qualitative study that considers the role of the teacher and how the teacher may scaffold learners in a way that fosters creative transformation that does not stifle student’s emerging musical competences. The research is based on the social constructivist perspective that believes learning is a profoundly social process.

Spiros will speak on “Composing and Sharing as an Integral Part of a School Instrumental Performance Curriculum.” His middle school students are offered many opportunities to create original compositions throughout the year, which he believes fosters a deeper musical understanding and develops new insights for them as performers, thus enhancing their learning and allowing them to become successful young musicians. You can read more about the conference here.

Professor Blair was one of three speakers representing our music program at OU’s recent e-Cornucopia: Creativity Through Technology Conference, presented by the university’s e-Learning and Instructional Support Services Department. Deb spoke about using iPads in the music classroom and the ways in which their use is changing the processes of performing, creating and listening to music. Also speaking that day were Phyllis White and Jenine Brown. Through their different topics, both addressed the ways open source software and web-based applications now allow non-musical specialists to express their creativity.

Continuing on the theme of recognition, the recent Paint Creek Regional Arts and Culture Awards evening was yet more proof of the strength of our reputation. Rochester Hills mayor Bryan Barnett spoke eloquently of the pride the city feels in being the professional home of so distinguished a scholar as our department chair Jackie Wiggins. Joining the mayor in making the presentation was local businessman and sponsor of the award Gerald Salerno.

In other news, our Technical Director Brent Wrobel recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles, where he was working as lighting director on new pilots for game shows aiming for the fall line-up. Brent has a long-standing freelance arrangement with Team Imagination, a lighting design company. After graduating from University of Michigan, Flint, Brent moved to Los Angeles and worked full time for Team Imagination for two years. “I didn’t like California!” Brent says. Nevertheless, he has returned there most summers ever since. This year he worked on three episodes of Pyramid which is being produced by Embassy Row, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures, for the Game Show Network. He also lent his expertise to the pilot for another game show for NBC, but is contractually unable to supply any details. The show uses a technology never before used on a game show and Brent has signed a confidentiality agreement. We are intrigued! Read more about Team Imagination here

Opera Program Coordinator Assistant Professor Drake Dantzler’s recently completed gig could not be more different. In June he sang Rudolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème for Arbor Opera Theater at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor. About his experience Drake says, “As a teacher, I find it invaluable to perform. It sharpens my artistic ideas, inspires me with new musical and technical concepts, and creates valuable connections for my students, both professionally and educationally.” Drake and his wife Alta Dantzler, who also teaches voice at OU, will spend the rest of the summer teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Many of our faculty are in demand at summer events and camps. Associate Professor Ken Kroesche will teach at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp this month. He will direct a British Brass Band for adults from July 18 – 21. Find more details here or contact Ken via his email

And finally, a reminder that you can see Assistant Professor Anthony Guest on stage at the Flint Youth Theatre as Captain Hook in Peter Pan, opening July 13. We are delighted to be able to pass along the news that alumna Donna Buckley (B.A. Theatre Production ’03) is designing costumes for the production. For more information visit FYT’s website here.

Photo: Gerald Salerno, Jackie Wiggins and Mayor Bryan Barnett at the Regional Arts and Culture Awards. Photo by Eric Haney.