January is a busy time for the Truman State University music department. Students start preparing for spring recitals, new ensembles begin and Wind Symphony I advertises their program to high schoolers. One constant staple of January, however, is the Missouri Music Educators Association conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. The majority of music education majors, along with most music professors, journey down to the four-day conference to learn more about the field of music education and attend workshops and performances.
This year was different, though. Not one, but two Truman music ensembles performed: the clarinet choir and the faculty rock band.
The clarinet choir, under the direction of Jesse Krebs, has the opportunity to audition to perform every four years. This year they performed four pieces, including one with a guest soloist and one written by Ron Shroyer, the grandfather of choir members Jordan and Lucas Shroyer.
“Playing it myself, that alone was very cool,” Jordan Shroyer said. “It’s a little extra special when it’s someone in your family. Getting to perform on a statewide stage in front of so many people was also just really special.”
Joining the clarinet choir in sendoff to MMEA was the all-faculty rock band, led by music education professor Jocelyn Prendergast. The band consisted of seven music professors, and they performed three songs from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Panic! At The Disco, providing workshop material in between each song.
Prendergast discussed how in the traditional music education setting it is usually traditional western music, and not other genres like pop, vernacular or folk, that are put in the spotlight.
“By doing this pop band, I felt like it was putting this music in the academy, in a central place, where I think it also belongs to be,” Prendergast said.
In addition, every four years there is an all-collegiate band directed by a guest conductor. This year, several Truman students participated in the ensemble, including junior Holly Peters, who played alto clarinet.
Peters said the band had about four two-hour rehearsals each day.
“It’s a really cool experience because you get to see all these people who are doing the same thing that you’re doing, or you want to be doing,” Peters said.
After MMEA was all over, students and faculty walked away with knowledge that will help them in their field.
Each year is filled with new things, but the music department at Truman was pleased to have a special participation role this year.
“We got a standing ovation at the end, so I think it was successful,” Krebs said.