Conductors attending conferences often return home inspired, rejuvenated, and full of new insights and music to try.
The music is easy – contact your favorite music distributor and buy it!
The insights are harder. It takes time to integrate novel techniques or approaches into your tool bag. Because conductors overwhelmingly lead frenetic lives, they often lack that time.
The end result is that many of the best concepts are noted on conference handouts, and then never implemented by more than the most enthusiastic attendees.
To get better at this, conductors need to understand the time it takes, and plan accordingly.
Write down every concept and strategy you want to integrate, and categorize them by short-, medium-, or long-term. For example, a new head voice exercise is short-term, because you can do it every day with your singers for two weeks and have it locked in. Enhancing the safe space in your classroom is something that may take months of work.
Once you have categorized these ideas, understand this important truth: you can’t implement everything at once. So select only one or two at a time to begin using in your teaching and conducting. It may take a while to use all the ideas you loved, but when you do, you will have truly integrated them into your teaching.
Research has shown that the reason that new educational approaches are adopted faster and with more effectiveness in countries like Finland is that the educators are given adequate time to learn and adopt them. Take that lesson to heart.
Conductors spend vast time and money to attend conferences like ACDA; the best gift they can give themselves afterwards is a little more time and organized thought to increase the long-term impact of their attendance.
(If I were you and flying home from Minneapolis, I’d get a stack of index cards and use the flight to unpack my brain while it’s still fresh.)