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Community, Connection and Commitment: The Value of Conference Attendance

Community, Connection and Commitment: The Value of Conference Attendance

This January, the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia has five music education faculty presenting at the Georgia Music Educators Association’s In-Service Conference. Why is nearly an entire area of a music school devoting time and effort at the start of a semester to not just attending, but presenting at a conference?

“These state conferences are good for community-building, self-efficacy, sense of purpose, idea-sharing, and personal development,” said Johanna Royo, assistant professor of music education at the Hodgson School.

According to Royo, the benefits of simply being a member of a NAfME organization are substantial, but there’s no substitute for the connections and experience of conference attendance.

“So many music educators, being so specialized, tend to feel isolated—there might be 1-2 per school, if that,” said Royo. “Some feel misunderstood by non-music colleagues.”

Being in a collegial environment where questions can be immediately answered and knowledge freely exchanged fosters reassurance, curiosity and stronger educators, not to mention the career opportunities that can arise from that face-to-face interaction.

Emails can be lost in the shuffle, phone calls not returned, but committing two or three days to learning and connection ensures engagement and pays considerable dividends.