Local Teacher, National Influence
Mr. Witt Trains Music Teachers at National Conference
Last January, Wray’s band director, Mr. Matthew Witt, sent a proposal to the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) suggesting a session for the association’s yearly conference. When he received the reply, it was not only approved, but Mr. Witt was invited to present the session. Honored and humbled, Mr. Witt worked through the coming months to create a presentation with accompanying handouts to help other music teachers incorporate music composition into their teaching. On Thursday, November 10th, Mr. Witt completed his presentation at the NAfME conference located in Grapevine, Texas.
“I knew the importance of teaching music composition to all of my students, and that’s why I created the composition project. I also knew that a lot of band and choir directors like myself rarely found a way to incorporate composition when they are so busy with concert preparation. My goal was to show them how to teach composition through a project-based approach, and with minimal sacrifice to rehearsal time.”
A national perspective from music educators from around the nation shows that music teachers are slowly moving away from the “sage on the stage” model of teaching, to more of a “guide by the side” approach. The composition project approach that Mr. Witt presented is in line with this model by allowing students to express their own ideas and creativity without a director always telling them exactly what and how to play.
After his session, Mr. Witt was able to attend a variety of other sessions from music education experts. “I came back from the conference full of new ideas for the students.” Mr. Witt is most excited about the idea of non-traditional ensembles such as rock band or mariachi, and how curriculum already exists for these kinds of groups.
Mr. Witt plans to attend the national conference again next year, and will be applying to present a session again on another unique aspect of his teaching that he has brought to Wray.