2023 ASTA National Conference

Pre-Conference Workshops in Orlando

For in-depth education, register for one of our pre-conference workshops.

Wednesday, March 15
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Orlando, Florida

Separate fees apply; workshops are not included in conference registration.

Keep checking back for updates as they become available!

ASTA National Teachers Orchestra

Location: TBA

Join us for a day of community music-making and relationship-building through the art form that we all love! This enjoyable pre-conference session will feature a full day of interaction with colleagues through string orchestra rehearsals and a planned culminating informal performance. The day of planned rehearsals will include rehearsal technique strategies and conversation with lots of playing and musical interaction. Participants will gain new insights and rehearsal techniques while rehearsing and playing the repertoire. It will be an active day!  Teachers are encouraged to exercise your primary or well-developed secondary instrument skills for this event. Repertoire will include pedagogical compositions, arrangements, and eclectic styles, as well as great standard repertoire. Music will be distributed one month before the conference so participants can prepare ahead of time. Instruments will be available upon request. Performance attire will be “business casual.” 

Conducted by Creston Herron
Director of Fine Arts, Klein ISD, Klein, TX 

Creston Herron is the Director of Fine Arts in Klein ISD and Conductor of the Shepherd School Campanile Orchestra. Orchestras under the direction of Mr. Herron have garnered national recognition and earned multiple national titles, including being named Grand Champions of the ASTA National Orchestra Festival, Texas Music Educators Association State Honor Orchestra, Grand Champions of the New York Orchestra Cup and invited group at The 75th Midwest Clinic held in Chicago, Illinois. 

Next Steps: Strategies for Supporting Social, Emotional, and Mental Wellness in the Music Classroom

Location: TBA

The mental health crisis has arrived in our classrooms, as well as in our own lives. This session will provide teachers a chance to engage in hands-on practices that can bolster their resilience, address student social, emotional, and mental health, as well as advocate for more sustainable school policies. Learn strategies designed by a mental health counselor and educators with a range of mental health certifications who integrate their training into their teaching practice. 

Dr. Rachel Dirks, Director of Orchestral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Kansas State University, is an active conductor, clinician, and educator.  She has conducted all-state and regional orchestras throughout the U.S., and has presented sessions for ASTA, Midwest, NAfME, and numerous state conferences. Dr. Dirks currently serves as chairperson of the ASTA Wellness Committee, an organization which endeavors to further the discussion surrounding health and wellbeing in the music classroom.

Dr. Tawnya D. Smith is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Boston University where she teaches graduate courses in research, curriculum, arts integration, creating healthy classrooms, and the arts and ecojustice. She has served in leadership capacities at the state, national, and international level, and has published in the areas of music education, expressive arts in education, and social justice in music education. She is co-chair of the NAfME ASPA for Music Teacher Health and Wellness.

Dr. Laura Talbott-Clark is associate professor of violin at Oklahoma State University. A Mindfulness-Based Wellness and Pedagogy clinician, she is pursuing a M.S. in Mental Health Counseling. Research interests include musician wellness, the application of contemplative practices to DEI issues in tertiary education, and the music of women composers of the Federal Music Project. She has presented sessions at CMS, ASTA, and state MEA conferences and can be heard on Navona Records.

Museum Specialist at Kansas State's Beach Museum of Art, Nate McClendon's focus is community building through intentional events and dialogue opportunities. He also serves as a SEL and DEIB educational consultant. He has taught strings in USD 383 (Manhattan, KS) and band in Clark County School District (Las Vegas, NV). Additionally, Nate worked as the Education Programs Manager for the International Association for Jazz Education and as a pastor at Westview Community Church (Manhattan, KS).

As embedded psychotherapist to the College of Music at the University of Colorado Boulder, Matthew Tomatz has served hundreds of musicians. He draws on experiences as a psychotherapist, educator, musician, yoga/meditation instructor, and group facilitator to address challenges that musicians experience. Matthew has developed a unique and potent technique to assist musicians in becoming dynamic performers and pioneered a group therapy model that he calls Developing the Whole Musician.

Professional Practices: A National String Project Consortium Collaboration

Location: TBA

The NSPC wants to ensure that our next generation of teachers is motivated and prepared to discover a stringed instrument job within diverse communities across the country. We encourage all preservice teachers to join us for a day filled with professional practice skills that will organize your job preparation and help you feel confident in your first few years of teaching. String Project directors and master teachers will meet, as well, to discuss String Project-specific professional practices of management, recruitment, and retention.

Moderated by Elizabeth A. Reed
NSPC Executive Director 

String Projects: Leading a dual legacy: Training tomorrow’s string educators while providing accessible string instruction opportunities for youth and adults. The NSPC is committed to furthering its dual legacy established in its original sites with the following: 
1. To prepare emerging string instrument music educators for success through hands-on teaching experiences, deliberate mentorship, and collaborative professional development while directly addressing the national shortage of highly qualified string teachers. 
2. To provide equitable access to inclusive and high-quality string education opportunities for students of all ages in communities of varied backgrounds and needs. 

Programming Historically Excluded Composers

Location: TBA

ASTA members are excited to engage their students with works from black, brown, indigenous, and Asian composers (BBIA), whether living or historic. But finding music by BBIA composers that fits a string classroom can be tough to do, particularly works for younger players. Come join this pre-conference workshop and learn strategies for working with BBIA composers and finding access to their music. Participants will learn how to make use of the databases and search tools that are currently available; consider programming options and suggestions for their school and community; and interact with contemporary composers who work in the school ensemble space. 

Dr. Rob Deemer
is a composer, conductor, educator, author, and advocate. He is a Professor and the Composition area head at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where his advocacy for underrepresented composers led him to found the Institute for Composer Diversity where he serves as its Director. Deemer also serves as the Chair of the Council for Music Composition and the Chair of the Repertoire Diversity Task Force with the National Association for Music Educators. 

Allyssa Jones (M.M. Music Education, Northern Illinois University) is a nationally recognized DEIA facilitator. A recipient of a Surdna Fellowship for her creative work, Allyssa’s credits include five solo recordings, two original musicals and compositions for numerous theatrical productions. As a former K-12 music supervisor and the current Director of Vocal Ensembles at University of South Florida, Allyssa founded Rising Tide Music Press to respond to the needs of emerging BBIA composers and those seeking their work. She serves as chair of the NAfME Council for Innovations and is a member of ACDA, Chorus America, JEN, and BMI. 

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate is a classical composer, citizen of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, and is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition. The Washington Post selected him as one of “22 for ’22: Composers and performers to watch this year” and raved about his rare ability to “effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism.” His commissioned works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Colorado Ballet, and many more. 

Tate was appointed a 2022 Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductee, 2021 Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State, and is a governor-appointed Creativity Ambassador for the State of Oklahoma. He won an Emmy for his work on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority documentary, The Science of Composing, and his music was featured on the HBO series Westworld. Tate served as Guest Composer, conductor, and pianist for San Francisco Symphony’s Currents Program, and was a Guest Composer for Metropolitan Museum of Art’s program Home with ETHEL and Friends. 

Tate’s middle name, Impichchaachaaha', means “his high corncrib” and is his inherited traditional Chickasaw house name. Learn more at www.jerodtate.com. 

Suzuki Practice: An Introduction to the Suzuki Method

Location: TBA

What does it mean to practice the philosophy and method of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki as educators and as learners? This session offers an introduction to the principles and philosophies of the Suzuki Method, as well as practical applications for in-school and after-school group learning settings. 

Sponsored by the Suzuki Association

Rolando Freitag currently teaches at the Orlando Suzuki Music School, where he offers Suzuki Teacher Training courses as well as individual and group lessons, and serves as director for the Florida Music Institute. He has extensive experience working with students of all ages and ability levels, and has taught lessons, workshops, and teacher training courses throughout the Americas. Mr. Freitag earned his MM in Violin Performance from Penn State University and BM in Violin Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory. He has completed the Foundations of Positive Psychology Specialization from the University of Pennsylvania and holds the Certificate of Achievement from the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

James Hutchins grew up in the Suzuki Method, has been a Suzuki teacher for over 25 years, and is a proud Suzuki dad. James has taught at workshops, institutes and classes around the world, including South Korea, Iceland, Peru, Lithuania, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Belize, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the States. He also teaches Suzuki pedagogy at East Carolina University. James has served as a guest clinician at the 67th Suzuki Method Summer School in Matsumoto, Japan. His studio has performed for state engagements and public events. James has performed for Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki at their home in Japan. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wonderful and gorgeous wife and his fabulous and entertaining son. 

Oscar Soler teaches Suzuki strings in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District in Texas. Soler has taught at the Aber Suzuki Center at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Boulder Suzuki Strings, American Suzuki Institute, the Festival Muchas Músicas in Mexico City and others. Soler is an avid performer, including as violin soloist with The National Repertory Orchestra, Orquesta Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, and Virtuosi de Caracas. He has been a member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, among others. Currently, Soler enjoys performing in the ROS/CAR duo with his wife, harpist Rosalie Gilbert. He served on the board of directors of SAA from 2017 to 2020. Soler earned a BM and MM in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy, both from the Cleveland Institute of Music with Kimberly Meier-Sims and Paul Kantor. He is a native of Caracas, Venezuela.


State Leadership Workshop

Location: TBA

*This session is only open to ASTA State Chapter presidents and presidents-elect, or a chapter board member attending on their behalf. State Leaders will receive a separate registration link.

Join ASTA President Rebecca MacLeod, ASTA President-Elect Karin Hendricks, and facilitator James Weaver for this workshop geared to support you in your ASTA leadership. Dr. Weaver will cover a range of topics relevant to managing a state arts organization, provide opportunities to sharing of best practices across the states, and time to make music together. Lunch will be provided.