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ETM-LA’s Program Team Gets Creative at CASMEC 2024

Tiffiny C. Reckley, Director of Community Affairs & Partnerships

In February 2024, the ETM-LA Administrative Program team attended the California All-State Music Educators Conference (CASMEC). This annual conference brings together educators and clinicians from across the state, as well as around the country, to convene in Sacramento for four days of workshops, performances, and vendor exploration. This year’s theme was “Create. Inspire. Perform.”; the offerings this year were immersive, inspiring, and innovative to say the least. The ETM-LA team who attended eagerly shared their collective excitement and how the conference’s engagement surpassed their expectations.

During this time of year, educators are often at the crossroads of looking forward to starting a new semester, but also feeling the milestone of a semester that has come to a close. Instructional Supervisor Arvi Lapuz shares, “[attending] CASMEC is like visiting a refill station for inspiration, motivation, and passion.” She also cites that as an Instructional Supervisor who supports a variety of teachers in different focus areas, “It was my goal to learn as much as I could, to better serve and support each of my teachers, in their respective roles as general music teachers, band directors, orchestra directors, and choir directors.”  Attending professional development opportunities like CASMEC offers relevant and engaging workshops that Instructional Supervisor Abigail Barrett says, “is such a valuable way to collaborate with other professionals in music education and gather new ideas that fueled my inspiration. There were so many sessions that provided a wealth of applicable information and shareable resources. Some of those sessions included the Orff approach and its emphasis on creativity and exploration in music education, the huge presence and lesson possibilities of literacy in music, and the use of technology to greatly enhance the learning experience.”

Every year, ETM-LA provides its music teachers and music teacher interns over 100 hours of internal professional development. These range from teacher-led workshops, to inviting external experts from the music education field, and even monthly meetings as cohorts where everyone is encouraged to share best practices as a professional learning community. Continued learning is essential to the growth of every educator. Being a lifelong learner is a cornerstone in every educator’s journey, no matter which role you play. Dr. Franklin Gómez has attended CASMEC  for many years, but this is his first as ETM-LA’s Director of Programs. “I would say that this has to be my favorite CASMEC, not only because of the company that I traveled with, but because I was able to attend sessions that made me feel like a child again. I was able to experience all of the professional development sessions as if I was a student in a music classroom, and that to me is the best way of learning and engagement. It is the most genuine way to be inspired, which gives us the opportunity to bring this inspiration back to our music teachers through our own Professional Development Academies.”


Now that the team is back and has had a moment to rest, let’s play a game of 5 Questions with ETM-LA!


I hope you all enjoyed your trip. It sounds like it was so informative and amazing fun!
Overall, what would you say was your favorite part of attending CASMEC?

Gómez: Before we even start with the sessions, I want to start at the beginning of my experience. It all began at the Burbank Airport, where I had the privilege to travel with our ETM-LA Administrative Program Team. It is so important to continue to feed those professional relationships in order to continue to grow together as leaders. I enjoyed our conversations and exchanging ideas on how we can bring everything we learn back to our music teachers. 


Wow, that sounds incredible! Speaking of bringing information back, would any of you recommend
that our music teachers attend CASMEC and other similar professional development opportunities?

Lapuz: As a member of the Program Department, CASMEC has provided me with a larger bank of ideas to use in collaboration with the team for future Professional Development opportunities for ETM-LA teachers. I would recommend attending CASMEC to anyone who is able to.


How does attending a conference like CASMEC help move the mission of ETM-LA forward?

Gómez: I was fortunate to attend and learn from sessions such as Modern Band 101, Hip-Hop Education in the Primary Years, A Korean Musical Journey Movement Activities, and The Adaptive Music Educator, just to name a few. This is all in efforts so that we may continue to provide and ensure that all of our students have access to a high quality music education across all of our schools. It is essential that we continue to be aware that every student that we serve has needs. We continue to attend professional development such as CASMEC, so that we are constantly up-to-date with, [and sharing strategies for],the best paths for engagement and striving towards understanding how our students learn in our classrooms.


What session at CASMEC was most impactful to you and what was the experience like?

Barrett: One of my favorite sessions was, “Elemental Composition”, presented by James Harding. During his presentation he used the wordless picture book “The Yellow Umbrella” by Korean Illustrator Jae Soon Liu to inspire musical improvisation on barred instruments.  The book showed colorful umbrellas from above traveling through various landscapes on the way to school. The images were used as a kind of musical score. The color of the umbrellas would signal different instruments to join and play based on timbre groups (yellow, blue, red, green). The form was cumulative, with more and more umbrellas joining in on each page. As an extension, the way the instruments were played was dictated by the setting. If the umbrellas were on a set of stairs, scales would be played. If a speeding train were to pass, a glissando across the bars. Harding emphasized that connecting music to storytelling can be a great way to engage students and encourage their creativity while also helping students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for music.


Wow, that sounds like such a mind-blowing experience, but I’m sure it is very common at
music education conferences. What is the biggest takeaway from this experience that you think you walked away with?

Gómez: This allows us to be able to bring new ideas back to our music teachers. It helps us to provide them the opportunities for movement, exploration, music-making, while engaging in tried and true strategies for creating a more accessible music classroom.



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Education Through Music-Los Angeles is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide and promote music in under-resourced schools as part of the core curriculum for every child in order to enhance students’ academic achievement, creativity, and overall development.

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