Music parents challenged, energized at 3rd Annual National Music Parents Symposium

By L. Scott McCormick


“Thank you for a great weekend. I’m already putting many of the ideas I gained to work.”

That was a common sentiment expressed by one of the more than 40 parents who attended the 3rd Annual National Music Parents Symposium in Anaheim, Calif., last month.

Another music parent said: “It is always great to collaborate with other booster groups! It was good to receive confirmation we are doing a lot of things really well, and to receive numerous ideas for areas of growth.”

And this was among my favorite parent comments: “AMP has done it again! The weekend was a great way to really focus on key aspects of our booster organization, with great speakers and hands on exercises. With network opportunities and interaction from multiple groups, we took away very specific things we can immediately apply. We are rejuvenated and excited to move forward and strengthen our group!”

This year’s National Music Parents Symposium registration more than doubled from a year ago. Based on sentiments expressed by this year’s attendees and by those already making plans to attend the 2017 symposium, the 4th Annual Symposium should be even bigger and better as AMP continues to position itself as the leading training and support organization for the nation’s middle and high school music parents organizations.

IMG_2876Conn-Selmer’s Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser got us energized by his opening session on advocacy. For those among you who have been fortunate to hear Dr. Tim at previous AMP-sponsored programs, you know what a dynamo Dr. Tim is!

We were also treated by NAMM’s Grand Rally for Music Education featuring a performance by Grammy Award-winning Canadian Brass and a thought-provoking interview on the importance of music with Weird Al Yankovic.

Our lineup of presenters was second to none with presentations by David Vandewalker, author of Strategic Plans for a Successful Booster Club; Barry Morgan, Solicitor General of Cobb County, Ga. and former booster officer and band director; and Richard Saucedo, retired director of the Carmel High School Band in Indiana.

IMG_2884Richard’s session, titled “The P.A.D. Initiative,” examined the relationship among parents, administrators and the director and featured guest presenters Don Jaramillo, principal at Etiwanda High School, Calif., and Tim Dawson, former booster president of Carmel. This honest look at what these successful relationships look like sparked this ice-breaking comment from one of the participants: “We all have the same director. He or she just goes by a different name.”

Saturday evening the entire entourage was treated to an amazing back stage clinic at California Adventure, presented by the incredibly talented team at Disney Performing Arts.

The parents took part in a vocal recording session for a movie soundtrack. The group was coached and rehearsed by musical director and conductor Tom Griffin.

While a number of music programs represented mentioned having had their groups participate in a Disney Park performance, very few have experienced the outstanding educational workshops Disney Performing Arts conducts.

There was a buzz in the room about how they would go about getting their own students to get to experience one of these truly magical sessions. Thanks to Thomas Schultheis and his team for this wonderful evening.

During the seven sessions presented over the course of two days, a common comment that was heard was: “I could use two more sessions on this topic.”

AMP was thrilled to also provide three showcase sessions during this year’s National Music Parents Symposium. First, was a quick look at the new feature documentary film, “Marching Beyond Halftime,” currently in production. Parents were told how their school’s music program could be included in the documentary through their support.

Second, we were mesmerized by Julie Duty’s presentation. Founder of United Sound, Julie’s session featured opportunities and curriculum to provide musical performance experiences for students with special needs. United Sound is a school-based instrumental music club for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their typical peers. With assistance from student volunteers (Peer Mentors), these New Musicians learn to play the instrument of their choice at a personally modified level with powerful results.

Lastly, the participants received a presentation by Tom Sabatino of J.W. Pepper, another proud corporate supporter of AMP.

As we begin to plan our next music booster education sessions, we reflect on some of the positive accolades that have come in thus far from our participants.

Be watching for your next opportunity to engage your boosters officers in one of our in-person training symposia. Until then, please join us for our next online webinar.

Thank you to Conn-Selmer for supporting the appearances of Dr. Tim and Richard Saucedo. Our deepest thanks to NAMM and the NAMM Foundation’s Mary Luehrsen and Eric Ebel for again hosting our event alongside the massively impressive NAMM Show. Without their support and belief in AMP’s mission, this event could not happen.