Nova Scotia Music Educators Association

Unmasking Music Education

October Conferences will be 100% virtual this year.

Every year, Professional Associations begin planning for their October Conference very early in the New Year. The decision to hold virtual conferences was made in the spring of 2021 based on COVID protocol information available at that time.

Conference Registration now closed
 Receipts for conferences will be distributed electronically from NSTU Central office starting the week following the conference.
They will be emailed to the address provided during registration.

When: Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
Contact: Keshia Laffin or

NSMEA Conference 2021 will be completely virtual this year. We hope to be making music together again soon, but the online format has afforded us the opportunity to experience many different presenters. Sessions are coming to you from our own local talent and from around the world. Also available this year: session replays for all conference  participants. Choose the sessions you would like to participate in live and catch the rest at your convenience. Sessions replays will be available for a limited time. We look forward to presenting October Conference 2021.

Conference Fees

Conference Fee $100.00
Retirees / Substitutes $50.00
Pre-Service Teachers $30.00

As per NSTU Operational Procedure 13 E. IV.: receipts of payment and attendance will not be distributed until the conference has concluded.

Session A - 9:45-10:45

A1  “Inclusivity, Equity, Relevance...Are We Doing All We Can?”
Let’s talk about why we do what we do, how we are doing it, and what we might want to do better.
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Cynthia Johnson Turner
Odds were against Cynthia Johnston Turner becoming a musician let alone a professor or Dean of music in higher education. Born in a small rural town in Ontario, Canada, no one in her family played an instrument or sang, although there were rumors that her great paternal grandfather was a magnificent mandolinist. Cynthia asked for a piano for Christmas when she was 8 years old, and because it was all her parents could afford, she received a toy electric keyboard from which she was pretty much inseparable until she started the ukulele in grade school. When she picked up the clarinet and saxophone in middle school, a love affair and a career were born. 
The first in her family to attend university, Cynthia received her B.Mus and B.Ed  from Queen’s University, a M.Ed. at the University of Victoria and a D.M.A. (Conducting) from the Eastman School of Music. She has received numerous teaching, research, and leadership awards. 
Cynthia is currently Director of Bands, Professor of Music, and Artistic Director of “CCE” at the Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia where she conducts the Hodgson Wind Ensemble, leads the MM and DMA programs in conducting, provides strategic leadership in diversity, equity, and belonging initiatives as well as innovative curriculum, and oversees the entire band program including the 400+ member Redcoat Marching Band. She is a sponsored clinician with Conn-Selmer.
Cynthia has guest conducted bands, new music ensembles, and orchestras at several universities and conservatories as well as state honor bands in the United States and abroad. She has recorded with the Innova and Albany labels and continues to actively promote commissions by today’s leading and emerging composers around the world with a focus on underrepresented voices. 
Cynthia spearheaded a community partnership between Athens HipHop artists, UGA composers, and the Hodgson Wind Ensemble, and the reimagining of ‘new music’ at UGA that embraces decolonization, the dismantling of musical “genre,” and anti-racism.
She was recently appointed Dean and Professor, Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

A2  “Connecting and Protecting Your Voice”
Glen will talk about vocal hygiene, the impact of masks on our voices and vocal activity, use of amplification, warm ups for teachers and some quick tips for choirs.
Workshop Capacity: Unlimited
Presenter: Glen Nowell
Glen Nowell is a singer, singing teacher and voice therapist (speech-language pathologist). He has performed in solo recitals, choral ensembles (soloist and chorister) and has spent 18 years focusing on the rehabilitation and habilitation of voices. He has given lectures on vocal pedagogy, vocal health and voice therapy at universities, music conservatories and conferences. He firmly believes that we learn best when we are entertained.

A3  “String Teachers' Box of Tricks”
Are you at the point of exhaustion, desperate to boost your energy levels and set your teaching free? If your goals are to understand, inspire and connect with your students (particularly with your younger musicians), this box of tricks will equip you with activities, stories and songs which you can implement in your teaching immediately. I will also show you how you can take the activity and make it relevant to your students.
Workshop Capacity: Unlimited
Presenter: Laura Carr
Laura formally trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff Wales.
Upon completing her studies, she set upon her career of teaching and performing. Laura’s work in schools in Wales along with the birth of her daughters, inspired her to look at teaching from a new perspective. Laura spent the next 10 years writing an entire curriculum of beginner resources called Stringosaurus, which continues to evolve to this day.
Laura moved to Australia in 2016 and has since set up a unique school strings programme with ages 4-8 at Peter Moyes Anglican Community School.
Laura was very privileged to serve on the AUSTA WA board as Vice President for 2 years and is a passionate advocate for high quality and inspiring music education.

A4  “Hip Hop Culture: Songwriting & Performance”
Maureen will share lessons that she developed inspired from virtual workshops that she participated in with Soul Science Lab. Honouring the deep roots of Hip Hop Culture with the West African Griot Tradition, these lessons strive to widen student perception of what Hip Hop Culture is and means. Using the Song Development Process created by Soul Science Lab, students are led through the steps to create their own song(s), empowering them to tell their story. 
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Maureen Dunn
Maureen Dunn has been an elementary music specialist with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education since 1992.  She has taught in all of the elementary schools in the St. Margaret’s Bay area, proudly being based out of her home school of Tantallon Senior Elementary during this time. Maureen feels fortunate to have begun her elementary teaching career in Halifax where a strong tradition of teaching based on the principals of Zoltán Kodály was established and an extremely supportive music teacher community existed. Her involvement on the provincial executive of the Kodály Society of Nova Scotia - a role in which she continues to serve - eventually led her to enroll in the 3-year summer study program at the University of Calgary, receiving Kodály Certification in 2002.  Always wanting to challenge her knowledge and perception as an educator, she received a Master in Education (Curriculum Studies) from Acadia University in 2014.
Maureen was honoured to have served on the Executive Board of the Kodály Society of Canada in the role as Director and Advertisement Editor, Alla Breve, 1999-2009. She founded the St. Margaret’s Bay Boys’ Honour Choir in 2008, having proudly directed them for 5 years. Maureen’s students have frequently been involved in recording projects over the years with East Coast artists such as Rita MacNeil, Terry Kelly, Lennie Gallant, as well as providing song segments for Seasons 2 & 3 of the award-winning CBC Kids’ show Poko. Maureen feels incredibly blessed to be supported and encouraged on her journey of teaching by the loves of her life, husband Kim, and son, Aaron.
Areas of interest for Maureen within music education are the development of the child’s voice and musicianship, choral singing, traditional music experiences of diverse cultures and communities, and non-directed improvisation.

A5  “Self-Compassion: A Stealth Super-Power”
Many of us have internalized the idea that in order to succeed, we have to be hard on ourselves. However, research shows that self-compassion is actually far more effective than self-criticism when it comes to staying motivated, persisting in the face of challenges, and moving toward our goals with fierceness and optimism. In this session we will explore what self-compassion is, is not, and how to cultivate it in ourselves and encourage it in our students.
Workshop Capacity: 50
Presenter: Karen Bulmer
Karen Bulmer is a versatile tuba player, educator, and workshop facilitator who currently serves as the Acting Dean of Memorial University’s School of Music. 
An active tuba soloist, Karen has performed her original one-woman show, Girl Meets Tuba, which chronicles her on-again off-again relationship with the tuba, in venues across Canada. Karen is also a movement educator and meditation instructor. Her unique Mind/Body Tools for Musicians program combines mindfulness with movement and self-regulation strategies to help musicians access a greater sense of their innate capacity for expression, mastery, and resilience. She is the creator and host of the Music, Mind, and Movement Podcast and blogs about practice, performance, and self-care for musicians at
Karen holds a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the University of Western Ontario, a Professional Studies Diploma from the HARID Conservatory, and both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Yale University. Karen trained in meditation facilitation under the mentorship of Michael Stone, Movement for Trauma with Jane Clapp, and is a certified yoga instructor with additional training in biomechanics and anatomy.

Session B 11:00-12:00

B1  “Teaching Performance through Composition”
I provide the musical building blocks whilst you and your students compose with form, texture, timbre and expressive techniques. Add performance elements to create a unique piece for your next concert - each one a world premiére!
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Jodie Blackshaw
Jodie Blackshaw (b. 1971) grew up in the Riverina region of NSW, Australia and her attachment to rural Australian life is evident in her music.  
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Music (Composition), Blackshaw has passionately searched for a compositional approach to wind band that offers students the opportunity to create as well as perform.  Throughout her teaching career she collected hundreds of student compositions and as a result of this, plus an eclectic teaching career encompassing one-on-one teaching, classroom music and ensemble direction, has found that the most influential teachers on her compositional voice have been her students.
In 2006 Jodie won the inaugural Frank Ticheli Composition Contest and since then has created a distinct portfolio of works that are performed throughout North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Jodie is also an advocate for equality and in late 2018 curated the website that features a collection of diverse concert programs created by revered conductors for the wind band medium.
Jodie completed her PhD in Composition in 2020 at the Australian National University under Supervisor Dr. Christopher Sainsbury and Associate Supervisor Professor Craig Kirchhoff. Her studies identified a point in the compositional process that provides composers with a distinctiveness according to the focus of their initial musical sketches. In some cases, composers commence with rhythm, for others, it is harmony or melody; in Blackshaw’s case, it is timbre. Hence as a result of this all-important study, she now self-identifies as a “colour-first” composer.
Blackshaw is fanatical about producing quality, meaningful works for band and is frequently commissioned by various groups throughout the western world to do just that. She desires that her music not just be "another piece, but an educational and spiritual journey for both the players and the director". To find out more about Jodie and her works please go to:

B2  “Superheroes Unite! Making Music Advocacy Work for YOU!”
Advocacy is becoming an increasingly vital part of what we do as music educators. But, with all of the demands of the classroom, advocacy may be a bit lower on our to-do lists. In this session, come hear about how organizations at all levels are advocating for music programs. You will walk away with a toolkit of practical strategies you can use to advocate for you, your music program, and music education in general.
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter:  Heather Fraser, Meghan Hila and Sheila Aucoin
Heather Fraser: Heather Fraser maintains an active career as a choral conductor, music educator and collaborative pianist. She is the Artistic Director of the Annapolis Valley Honour Choirs (150 singers Grades 3-12), the Aeolian Singers (Halifax based women’s choir), and music specialist in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.  Heather is also an active clinician, presenter and adjudicator. Passionate about the power of music to build community and foster our humanity, she was Program Director for the NS Choral Federation for seven years. She is now serving as VP Advocacy for Choral Canada and is humbled to be a part of such an invested team working on behalf of our diverse choral community.  Heather has studied conducting and choral pedagogy with mentors across Canada, the USA and the UK. She was honoured to be the first conductor in Pro Coro Canada’s emerging artist program (2016), a Conducting Fellow with the Canadian Chamber Choir (2015), and was Apprentice Conductor of the National Youth Choir of Canada (2010).
Meghan Hila:  Since 2014, Meghan Hila has been the General Manager of Choral Canada, the national arts service organization for the Canadian choral community. In January 2019, Meghan was promoted to Executive Director. Meghan has extensive experience in arts management and has worked for organizations such as the National Arts Centre Orchestra & Dance, University of Windsor's School of Music, Windsor's Capitol Theatre, the Kiwanis Music Festival of Greater Toronto, Bowman Media, Talisker Players, and Choirs Ontario. Meghan has a Bachelor of Music Therapy (Voice) degree from the University of Windsor, as well as a Certificate in Arts Management. Meghan has performed as both a volunteer and professional choral singer. Until recently, upon becoming a new mother, Meghan was singing with the Orpheus C​hoir of Toronto directed by Robert Cooper and the St. Thomas Anglican Church Evensong Choir directed by Matthew Larkin. 
Sheila Aucoin: NS Music Teacher and part of the working group leading choral Canada’s National Advocacy Survey.
B3  “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Revisiting Our Physical Structures”
How can we find more freedom and ease in our movements? How can we address students’ individual playing and singing habits in a group setting? What do we mean when we use words like “posture” and “alignment”? These are some questions we will explore in this session as we rediscover the relationship between our own physical structures. This is a hands-on workshop, so please bring your instruments, speaking and singing voices, etc.
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Fran Farrell
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Frances Farrell pursued her music studies in Winnipeg, graduating with both Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Manitoba. She subsequently earned a Master's Degree and Artist's Diploma in Vocal Performance from McGill University. Frances recently graduated with her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Toronto. Her doctoral dissertation, Improvisation in Choral Settings was subsequently awarded the Outstanding Dissertations Award by Choral Canada in 2018. Currently, Fran is based in Halifax where she teaches high school music and conducts two senior high choirs as part of the Halifax Regional Arts Program. Fran has also worked as a choral clinician in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. Recently published works include Winter Proverbs, which was awarded first prize in Chor Leoni’s inaugural C4 competition (2017) and is published by Cypress Press, several contributions to Volume Five of the Teaching Music through Performance in Choir series (2019), Painter of Wintertime (2019),a commissioned SATB arrangement of a song by local singer-songwriter Robbie Smith found on the Naming the Twins website, and an article for the book The Choral Conductor’s Companion (2020). Most recently, her composition A Rose by Any Other Name (SSAA, piano), was commissioned and premiered by the Aeolian Singers. Fueled by a desire to work with musicians, Fran is also studying to be an Alexander Technique teacher through the Total Vocal Freedom Pro Certification Program.

B4  “Elementary Explorations”
Featuring activities for upper and lower elementary, this session will focus on Orff processes (Imitate-Explore-Create), adapting lessons to fit your classroom, and simple ways to include structured, creative tasks in the daily life of your elementary music classroom. 
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Jenny Trites
Jenny Trites (she/her) is an Orff specialist, composer, choral musician, and pianist based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). She studied at Memorial (B.Mus, B.Ed) and Acadia (M.Ed), and regularly seeks out additional opportunities to deepen her understanding of music pedagogy.
Jenny currently teaches music at Westmount Elementary, accompanies the Girl’s Honour Choir, and co-directs the Fairview Orffestra. She is a regular collaborator with Xara Choral Theatre.

B5  “Songwriting For Everyone”
Learn how to write a song using your own creative power within.  No experience necessary.  You only need a willingness to be open-minded and try something new.  Come to this session with an idea, a dream, a poem or a thought and watch how it transpires into a song!
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith's powerful voice and introspective pop/rock songwriting have earned her a wide following through years of touring in Canada, the United States, and Europe. A prolific and passionate artist, her full-length albums include Unveiling (2019), A Christmas Wish (2018) Live In Concert (2018), 11 (2016), The Journey (2014), and Stronger Now (2012), as well as the book November (written about the band’s tour in Europe 2017) and the live DVD Sarah Smith: Plugged and Unplugged (2015).
Sarah is a seasoned road warrior, playing close to 300 shows per year. Along the way, she has shared the stage with artists including Carole Pope, Sass Jordan, Biff Naked, Emm Gryner, Joel Plaskett, David Wilcox, 54-40 and many others. Whether it’s just her and her acoustic guitar or her full band, she is simply a mesmerizing performer.
Sarah has won many awards throughout her career, including: Best Adult Contemporary at The Toronto Independent Music Awards, Best Rock Artist at the London Music Awards and Best Singer/Songwriter & Best Rock Artist at The Jack Richardson Music Awards. 

Session C 1:30-3:00

C1  “Music with Messages: The Impact of Activism through Art”
Much of Alex Shapiro's genre-bending catalog of multimedia electroacoustic band works exemplifies the powerful connection between arts, technology, and activism. 21st century music education and performance benefit from the ability to bring elements together. Among the positive results is the raised awareness of myriad topics among musicians and audiences. This presentation will demystify technical issues, and explore creative approaches that link composers, conductors, musicians, and audiences to the beauty and challenges of the world around them.
Workshop Capacity: Unlimited
Presenter: Alex Shapiro
Alex Shapiro is known for her genre-blind acoustic and electroacoustic pieces, including a significant catalog of electroacoustic wind band works for musicians at all performance levels. Published by her company Activist Music LLC and distributed by Hal Leonard LLC, Alex’s music is heard daily in concerts and broadcasts across the U.S. and internationally, and can be found on over thirty commercially released recordings.
Ms. Shapiro is noted for her seamless melding of live and recorded sounds, and for her innovative uses of multimedia in performance and music education. A widely published author and frequent guest lecturer on topics ranging from technology, copyright, diversity and inclusion, music education, and the music business, Alex advocates tirelessly for other artists. She is the Symphonic and Concert writer member of the Board of Directors of ASCAP, and serves on the Board of Directors of the ASCAP Foundation and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

C2   “New Songs and Online Resources for Elementary Music Class”
Spice up your elementary music class with new teaching songs (including llamas, a singing yeti, a flamboyance of flamingos and a howling wolf!) and learn new game songs to teach melodic and rhythmic concepts. Find out about online resources that will help you as you teach music classes from a cart, online or in person. Discover new ways to access concert repertoire and teaching activities. 
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Donna Rhodenizer
Donna Rhodenizer’s enthusiasm and passion for top quality, child-centered music has been at the forefront of the music she has been creating for over three decades, supporting elementary-aged singers and their teachers in music classrooms around the world. Her concert repertoire is well-loved by teachers and students alike. In 2020 she composed over 70 simple songs and game songs to aid teachers as they teach melodic and rhythmic concepts in music class. Donna’s  imagination endears her to children and her passion for music education makes her an invaluable resource to her teaching colleagues. 

C3  “Doing What The Pros Do: Empowering Our Students to Own The Artistic Process”
In this session we will talk about the four pillars of The Artistic Process: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting; and how to expand the ensemble-based music curriculum to go way beyond just getting ready for the next performance or the next competition with the purpose of assisting our students in the discovery and identification that they too are artists who go through the same sacred processes as the pros.
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Elizabeth Fortune
Elizabeth Fortune is the Director of Orchestras at Seattle’s Ballard High School.   From 2002-2018, she was the Director of Orchestras and Eclectic Strings at Seattle’s Washington Middle School. In addition to teaching in Seattle Public Schools, she is director of the award nominated educational programming at the Wintergrass Music Festival. Over her tenure, Fortune has been striving to bridge the gap between classical and roots music in the educational setting. At Washington Middle School, she built the strings program into a comprehensive four-tiered curriculum for string players of all levels, including two roots music ensembles. Her string ensembles regularly perform with noted guest artists and participate annually in regional and national classical and jazz festivals. She is also the co-host of a popular music education podcast/ Facebook Live show called “The Beth and Kelly Show.”
In 2020, Fortune was appointed as chair of the National Association for Music Education’s Council for Orchestral Education.  In 2019-2021, Fortune was a member the American String Teachers Association Board of Directors.  In 2018, she was a recipient of the Country Music Association’s Music Teachers of Excellence distinction. In 2015, Fortune was one of 25 semi-finalists out of 7,000 nominations for the Grammy Music Educator Award. Fortune received her Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees with an emphasis on Music Education and violin performance from the University of Montana. She is also an active contributor to the Washington Music Educators’ Association, and the International Bluegrass Music Association.

C4  “Hip Hop Chronicles”
The Hip Hop Chronicles course provides a cultural and historical overview of the origins of hip hop music from West African oral traditions to its birth in the South Bronx, NYC. The timeline marks important genres in the history of Black music that contributed to the development of hip hop and highlights prominent songs and artists from each genre. It outlines core elements of hip hop culture plus information about each form’s role/function in hip hop music. 
Workshop Capacity: unlimited
Presenter: Soul Science Lab
Together as Soul Science Lab, Chen Lo and Asante Amin specialize in performance, large scale music and multimedia productions and culturally responsive educational experiences. Working at the intersection of music, culture and technology, the music artist duo has developed and delivered numerous arts education workshops for students, educators and intergenerational community audiences for the past 7 years. Lo and Amin collaborated to produce and facilitate arts programs with premier arts institutions including Lincoln Center, Harlem Stage, SXSWedu, Classical Theater of Harlem and others. The pair have been tapped to bring their unique approach to music and cultural arts education to a series of international organizations and conferences as well, including Music in Schools and Teacher Education Commission (MISTEC) in Dublin, Ireland,  Dare to Dream Ghana, Create South Africa and in the International Hip Hop Symposium at Saõ Paulo University in Brazil.
Soul Science Lab has been featured in’s Black History Month series and's publication The Creators Project for their poignant 360 video, "I Can't Breathe." The duo also has a series of album projects, including Footprints, The Visitor: Alter Destiny, Plan for Paradise, kids music EP Soul Science Academy and their live multimedia concert retrospective of the Black experience in America, Soundtrack ’63.  They have performed in several concerts and festivals nationwide over the last seven years, including shows with the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, Apollo Theater, Mass MoCA, Afropunk After Dark, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM),'s Many Rivers to Cross Festival, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning and others. 
Most recently, Chen Lo and Asante collaborated with Carnegie Hall to create a unique set of music education curriculum based on the music and themes of their forthcoming visual album, Make a Joyful Noize, that challenges students to examine how artists respond to the world around them. The pair created a hip-hop songwriting, production and performance digital course series, Page to the Stage, which offers master classes, complete with a culturally responsive curriculum, video tutorials and resources to engage young learners in the world of hip-hop. In 2020, Soul Science Lab was tapped to lead workshops for music educators across the US on the history of Black American music and the various techniques of creating and performing Hip-Hop music in Carnegie Hall’s Summer Music Educators Workshop. Prior to this program, Soul Science Lab was featured in Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers 2019-2020 program, where they co-created a custom Hip-Hop music and culture curriculum along with supporting audio visual assets for K-2 students, used in hundreds of classrooms across the US. 
About Chen Lo 
Artist // Educator // Visionary
Chen Lo is a multi-talented artist, songwriter and educator. He has toured extensively performing and conducting music workshops and master classes in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria,
Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Honduras, Ireland, South Africa, Swaziland, Senegal, Vietnam and Brazil. Through his music and multi-media production company, Soul Science Lab (SSL), he released a series of album projects, including Footprints and Plan for Paradise. SSL has also performed or produced work with premier arts institutions like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, Brooklyn Academy of Music, MassMoCA and the Classical Theater of Harlem. In addition, he is an experienced arts educator that has developed and implemented arts education curricula nationally and globally. He served as the head of music production for the Academy at Urban Arts Partnership and the musical director for FreshEd, a music integrated academic program for English and Social Studies. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of CodeScty, a startup that uses hip hop to teach computer science concepts. Chen Lo’s holds a Bachelors of Arts from Penn State in Media Studies and an interdisciplinary Masters from New York University in Art and Social Change. He continues to make great music, spread love and make history.
About Asante Amin
Multi-instrumentalist // Composer // Educator
Asante Amin is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and musician educator. With over 13+ years of experience as a teaching artist, Amin has taught, lectured and facilitated interactive music arts education programs in schools and with numerous community organizations. A passionate teacher who has taught in every capacity from teaching fundamentals of instrumental music in band to digital music production and songwriting.  Placing a strong emphasis on history and culture, Asante is known to fuse these elements into his teaching, particularly in his music theory and band programs with Urban Arts Partnership, Family Dynamics and the Quest Youth Organization. He is the Music Director and a founding member of CodeScty, an interactive learning experience which uses original Hip-Hop music and engaging activities to teach computational thinking and computer science concepts to youth in grades 6-12. A MetLife Meet the Composer award winner, Amin is a musical director ahead of his time.

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