Post TMEA/TI:ME and MMEA Thoughts

The last few days have been a whirlwind for me. Using a combination of personal days and a single professional development day, I was able to miss three days of school to present sessions at TMEA/TI:ME and MMEA. I feel blessed because both sessions were packed and feedback has been very positive. I try to make sessions entertaining, useful, and applicable at all kinds of levels. Those presentations will be uploaded soon, although the session notes are available in the “past presentations” section above. So, let me mention a few of my thoughts from the session.

  • TMEA is gigantic. 26,000+ music teachers attend the festival, and I’ve been told that only the Texas Band Directors conference is larger (Apparently, the Texas ACDA is also big). You could take the conferences I’ve seen in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and they wouldn’t match Texas. Barb Freedman, one of the leading music education technologists, said, “I tell teachers that they need to attend at least on TMEA.” I agree wholeheartedly. Stephanie Sanders, another music education technologist, stated that the tour guide on one of the boats in San Antonio said that the TMEA conference was the largest conference all year in San Antonio.
  • My #1 place of learning at conventions remains in the vendor area. TMEA brought that to a whole new level, where the vendors stretch further than the eye can see. Special highlights for me were visits with the staff at MakeMusic (both at TMEA and MMEA…shout-outs to James, Bob, Beth, Bruce, and Michael), Notion (Jim Boitnott, CEO), and Air Turn. Texas draws a number of vendors that I’ve never seen at another show. Also…a lot of networking happens on that vendor floor.

One wing of the two gigantic vendor areas at TMEA

  • You need to see what MusicFirst is doing. They are offering packaged solutions from a number of vendors based on cloud-based solutions for incredible prices. Jim Frankel, another leading music technologist (his writing can be found at, along with other major music technologists Dr. Joseph Pisano, Richard McCready [TI:ME educator of the year], and Amy Burns) is leading this initiative.
  • I have mentioned this in a previous post, but Notion for the iPad is going to be made equal to Notion for Mac/PC. I find this amazing–but I believe it. The CEO/President of Notion was wonderfully candid about his company and their plans. As I mentioned in my last post about Notion being the only option for notation on the iPad, I’d love to have that CEO as a boss–tough, high expectations, honest, and rewarding.
  • You are going to love SmartMusic on the iPad. They are still showing a build from December that was tweaked to be excessively stable for MidWest, and I had a chance to see two different current builds at both TMEA and MMEA (the MMEA version was 4 days newer than TMEA, and already had some bugs worked out). I’ve heard these things said on the vendor floor to other people, so I am going to mention them now (in the middle of a long post). First, SmartMusic on the iPad will not be fully featured when it comes out this Spring, but it will be fully featured in the fall. The initial version will be able to access every piece of literature that SmartMusic offers right away in the Spring, however. Second, there is going to be a changing of price structure and registration of SmartMusic from per-computer to per-person. There will be news releases from MakeMusic about all these things in coming weeks–as well as new branding for the company.
  • I love networking. MMEA is my home turf, so I when I attend MMEA, I know a lot of people that I’ve met over the years. Meanwhile, TMEA and TI:ME was all new territory for me. It was a great joy to be able to visit with people that I follow on Twitter and via their blog posts, including Catie Dwinal, Sarah Mayer (admittedly, I had met Sarah at WMEA), Stephanie Sanders (I don’t think she has a blog, but can be found at @Stephdon on Twitter), Barbara Freedman, and the combination of Dr. Joseph Pisano, Amy Burns, and Richard McCready (these folks all blog at These are the some of the “major” players in this field of music education technology, mostly located on the East side of the USA. It was a pleasure to meet more of my peers in this field–and even more enjoyable to hear contrasting ideas about how things should be done in music ed tech. That’s how we learn–new ideas from new people, mainly coming from networking. Also, there was a special surprise for me at MMEA where I finally had the chance to meet Susan Bujold, the choir director at Hertiage Middle School (West St. Paul, MN), who teaches at a 1:1 iPad school, and uses those iPads in choir. She is a member of TI:ME, and it is wonderful to know that I have another expert in the field of music education technology within driving distance. I’m looking forward to future collaboration with her, as she teaches middle school (I do not) and she has 1:1 experience (I do not).
  • In regards to my new friends at TI:ME, I was particularly impressed in how they welcome new members and young members, and counsel them in their activities–as well as how to start to turn some of this work into some kind of financial benefit. It was visible mentoring–a wonderful thing to see! Some organizations ignore young teachers…TI:ME embraces all. I’ve seen it in action.
  • My favorite statement from an attendee at one of my presentations: “I have two things to immediately apply on Tuesday when we get back to school.” I love hearing that.
  • That said, If anyone that attended a session–and enjoyed it/learned from it/benefitted from it–and would be willing to send me an e-mail with positive comments, I would like to start a list of comments that I can put on the blog and also include with applications as I apply to speak at other conventions.
  • As you attend these conferences, remember that most of the presenters–unless they represent a specific company or publisher–are not paid for presenting, and in fact, often have to use their own personal time (sometimes leave without pay), they have to pay for their transportation [and flights] and hotels, and they even pay the standard convention fee and professional organization dues. I’m asked quite often how much I get paid to present, and the answer is that I pay in order to present. I do so partially to give back to my profession (which is why this blog is free) but also to open future doors. So…if you ever attend a “rough” session (they happen!)–keep in mind that the presenter is doing so on their own time and dollar–and be kind!
  • The biggest surprise from one of my sessions: experiencing my first regional app. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was contacted by nine people about the Tonal Energy Tuner, which was developed by the creator of Thumb Jam, and created by a Texan. It’s a good app ($3.99 right now), but the regional loyalty to the app was surprising. I’ll be mentioning the Tonal Energy Tuner wherever I speak from now on!
  • New toys: I left TMEA with three new toys. First, I now own an AirTurn device. I won’t tell the whole story, but I also left without my PageFlip device, and I learned some bad things about the background of the PageFlip device. Second (and third), I now own a GigEasy iPad holder, as well as a portable microphone stand. I’ll have to buy a second GigEasy to use at school for student check-in with QR codes.
  • Finally, again, just a word of gratitude to all of my colleagues who are so open to the technology which is so rapidly changing education (as a whole) and has the potential to radically change how we “do” music education–not for the sake of change, but because it will enhance education, and help us to take our students further than we ever have before. What a great time to be a music teacher!

San Antonio at night

The River Walk at night in San Antonio–Beautiful!


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