One of the most incredible things about the Directors’ Academy at the Music for All Summer Symposium is the freedom to explore. Whether you want to learn about new concepts, hone your skills as an educator, network with colleagues from around the world, or just observe world-renowned educators doing what they do best, the Directors’ Academy can give you the experience you’re looking for.

I’ve had the chance to observe a number of incredible sessions and rehearsals this week, but my absolute favorite part of the experience so far has been playing in the Directors’ Concert Band. It is so unbelievably awesome to walk into a room where you know that every person in there has the same objective: to learn. Whether that’s learning about quality repertoire (old and new), learning about effective rehearsal techniques, or learning about your colleagues and their programs, this band is exactly what you need.

Richard Saucedo begins every rehearsal with a quick warm up, during which he breaks down some valuable ensemble fundamentals. During Tuesday’s rehearsal, he reminded us all that the value of the warmup goes well beyond getting air and fingers moving. It’s about understanding that we can only perform as well as we rehearse, and if we can get that first concert F sounding incredible, we can translate that to the music we perform. It’s more than teaching our students how to play a great first note – it’s teaching them why the way that first note sounds is important.

The Directors’ Concert Band is a prime example of the level of musicianship that our students can achieve when they learn to think critically and apply fundamental musical concepts to every moment of rehearsal. By developing their understanding and appreciation of the why behind what we do in rehearsal, we foster their love of music and their desire to continue growing as musicians.

When we can get our students past the point of learning to play, we can elevate them to a point of playing to learn.