The Magic of a CMN Conference

Joanne Hammil (center) received CMN’s Magic Penny award at our 2011 conference. Pictured here with her son and daughter.

Thinking of attending our International Conference, Oct. 18-20 in Los Gatos, CA? Nanci Schneidinger, 2013 conference co-chair, reflects on her memories of past conferences.


I’m not sure how I originally heard about The Children’s Music Network.  I think it was through an email group called “Fun Music Ideas,” run by a fellow named Thomas.  Someone must have written a little blurb about CMN and the upcoming conference.  I was a new mother at this time, and also new to the world of children’s music. I remember calling CMN’s office and talking to Caroline Presnell, who was CMN’s administrator at the time. She was very helpful, answering all my questions and concerns.


I attended my first CMN “gathering” in 1999 at the Walker Creek Ranch, California.  I brought my “young” 80-year-old mother with me so she could help out with my daughter. I think she was also looking forward to it since Malvina Reynolds was being honored with CMN’s “Magic Penny” award for lifetime achievement in children’s music. My mother had taken guitar lessons from Malvina back in the late 1950s.

Laurie McIntosh takes our breath away with a song.
Laurie McIntosh takes our breath away with a song.


What stands out in my mind from that first conference was the beautiful singing, the beautiful environment, and the warmth of the conference attendees. Everyone was friendly and made me feel at home. The workshops were great! I gathered a ton of new material for my budding business and picked up a lot of CDs so that I had new songs to sing to my daughter.


My second conference was in 2001. September 11 was still on all of our minds. I remember standing in a big room holding hands with others while Ruth Pelham led us in her incredibly beautiful song, “What do I do.”  It was moving and emotional for all.


I continued as a member of CMN, participating in many, many regional gatherings and made a lot of wonderful friendships.  Each time I attend a conference I see familiar faces and make new friends at the same time. I feel like it’s a homecoming. We really are one big family. Our conferences are like family reunions.


This past summer while camping next to a peaceful lake in Oregon, I lay in my sleeping bag looking up at the stars. I pulled out my ipod, put the headphones in my ears and found an old recording of the 2001 CMN conference. We were being led in “Where are we going and how will we get there.” I closed my eyes and I was back in that room with all my CMN buddies singing in harmony. I began to cry, overcome by the beautiful spirit of the song.


So I ask you, where are we going and how will we get there?  We’re going to the 2013 CMN conference at the Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA. We’ll get there by plane, car, train and foot.  We’ll get there, and we’ll sing and laugh, learn and grow and hold each other’s hands in friendship.  


384348_300376993328751_12713620_nWe have some amazing workshops lined up, a wonderful KN address with Bev Bos and an important posthumous Magic Penny tribute to our beloved Tom Hunter, songwriter, educator, CMN member, and all around amazing person.

Nanci Schneidinger is the co-chair of the 2013 CMN Conference on October 18-20 in Los Gatos, CA.