Needless to say, it is impossible for one person to attend every single event that the conference has to offer. (Fortunately, there will be 15 members of Ithaca College ACDA in attendance, and we'll all be in different sessions at different times. I already can't wait to compare notes with my peers!) I've never been to the ACDA National Conference before, but I imagine it will be like a musical theme park, with lots to do in a short amount of time. So, how does one approach a musical theme park? Strategically, of course! There is a considerable amount of planning that must be done on the attendee's part before the conference begins.
For anyone who hasn't been to an ACDA conference, here's what happens in the weeks leading up to the event: Once you've registered, you get a Program Book in the mail that lays out the agenda of the entire conference in great detail. The times and places of all events are listed in chronological order, and it's up to the attendee to choose the sessions that interest them the most. I received my Program Book several weeks ago. Being a first-timer, I was not prepared for the challenging and rather overwhelming experience that is the ACDA Program Book. Upon opening it, I saw a list of more concerts happening over a four-day span than most people see in five years. I saw anywhere from five to ten events that were scheduled to happen simultaneously each hour for each of the four days. My first thought was, "Well, I guess eating and sleeping aren't that important..." But I knew I was going to have to prioritize in order to have the best possible experience at the conference.
The first step in planning is to make decisions. Ask yourself...Which interest sessions are an absolute must? Which concerts are most appealing to me? Which receptions have free food? Those are the first things to be placed on your personal agenda. Once you've got your definite choices, you can start planning the rest of your time around those events. It would be very possible for an attendee to fill every second of every day with events from 8am until midnight, but there is something very important to take into account when creating a schedule for a conference like this: networking. Communicating with fellow music students, up-and-coming composers, world-class conductors...at the end of the day, that's what the National Conference is all about! So as I made my schedule, I resisted the urge to squeeze as many interest sessions as possible into each day; I made sure to set aside a few hours each day to simply walk around and interact with others, and I'm actually really excited to see what sorts of connections I'll make with people from the choral world!
Recently I met with a fellow ACDA member, and together we made a schedule of everything we want to hit while we're in Salt Lake City. Having a set schedule will save us time running around the convention center; we're ensuring that we have enough time to transport ourselves from one place to the next, and we're saving ourselves a lot of stress in the process! I'll be glad to be able to savor every moment of these four days, because we're in for some incredible experiences. Our "game plan" includes two conducting master classes, performances by internationally renowned choral ensembles (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the King's Singers, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, to name a few), workshops led by prominent American choral conductors, group discussions with other music students from all over the country, and so much more. We are absolutely ecstatic about all of the opportunities that are about to unfold.
The ACDA National Conference promises to be a mentally, emotionally, and musically enriching experience for all in attendance. Here at Ithaca, we are particularly excited to be the official bloggers for the conference. Stay tuned to hear about all of our wonderful adventures! Salt Lake City, here we come!!!!
WRITTEN BY: JULIANA CHILD (Freshman)
Involvement in ACDA: first-year member
Favorite thing about choral music: The communication! There is beautiful, natural, human communication on so many levels with choral music...from conductor to singer, from alto to soprano, from choir to audience, from poet to composer...everyone has a message to share, and everyone else in the web of connections listens and responds to that message, and that's when the magic happens.
One thing that you are excited about for Salt Lake City: I am thrilled to have this opportunity to meet and learn from so many experts in the field of choral music!