The clinicians for the event were Therese Hibbard of the University of Nebraska, Jerry Rubino of the American Choral Directors Association and St. Olaf faculty member Dave Hagedorn. Throughout the day they led students in workshops that largely focused on movement in music and the different ways that performers can feel music and interpret it through body movement.
Associate Professor of music Linda Berger, who coordinated Music Pedagogy Day, said that the primary purpose of the event was to expose students to ways of thinking and types of music that are not often taught at St. Olaf. A large focus of the day was jazz singing, which, as many Oles can attest to, is not a genre of music that gets a lot of attention in the choral department. Berger hopes that students will use this opportunity as a tool to bridge to various styles of music and prepare themselves for the different people and cultures they'll face in the "real world."
First, Rubino challenged students to consider their values. When teachers set foot in classrooms for the first time, not only is it important for them to know where they are coming from when it comes to their own values, but it's also important for them to know how to relate to students and their differing values. Rubino talked with the group about this and gave them insights into rating the values that they found most important.
Hibbard continued with movement exercises. She suggested to the students that music exists not only through time, but also through space. With this she had them doing both stationary exercises and also ones that had them moving across the floor. She worked with the students on interpreting contrasting styles of music and also on the idea of "filling in the space between the beats."
Rubino spoke a second time about sound and style. Instead of suggesting one "perfect" sound for everyone, he brought forth the idea that each individual has their own style to find. In a switch to what many people are taught, he also suggested that rather than having the sound one creates lead to the emotion and character of a piece, it should be the opposite; the emotion and character come first, which lead to the creation of the sound you want.
The second session of the day was spent bringing everything together. Faculty member Dave Hagedorn, along with several musicians from the jazz bands, provided music for the students as they sang and danced their way through "It Don't Mean a Thing (if it Don't got that Swing)." The clinicians gave subtle suggestions that made a noticeable impact on how the students began to feel the music.
By the end of the day, everyone involved had gained a better understanding of what it meant to interpret a somewhat unfamiliar type of music through their bodies, and had hopefully gained insight into how they might go out and share this knowledge when they hit the classrooms.