So, What’s a Conference Like? with Liz Hannan

As our annual conference fast approaches, we are launching a new series here on the blog.” So, what’s a conference like?” Is a common question from new members and future-members. With such a robust roster of veterans, we decided to send out a few questions to our more seasoned-members and get their take. Today we have Liz Hannan, a member since 2006.

Liz Hannan and other members at a conference.

How did you come to join CMN?

In the late nineties my voice teacher encouraged me to go to the conference when it returned to Petaluma. Just recently she told me it was the best gathering of musicians she had ever attended. Pam Donkin had been encouraging me to join CMN for several years. In her usual spirit of generosity she gifted me a membership in 2006 and encouraged me to attend the conference. I gave her my usual answer, “As a church music director, I just do not have the time!” After hearing so many stories about the energy and excitement I decided to “make the time.”

How have the conferences changed over the years?

The first conference I attended was October of 2006 at Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma.
I knew only Pam Donkin, Greta Pedersen and Johnette Downing. Everything was so organic and homestyle that I felt as though I was at a sing-along at the home of old friends. The sales and silent auction were in another building. There were no announcements during meals and no keynote speaker. Nothing distracted us during the Round Robin and Magic Penny. We had the gift of time to focus on singing, laughing and networking. It was magic…! The only fund raiser was called Give a Gig. We were encouraged to donate our fee for one gig. there was a poster on the wall and very few announcements about it. We simply wrote checks and rejoined the fun. Greta Petersen asked me to meet Sammie Haynes and share music for children’s choruses. Sammie and I have remained close friends ever since. It was warm and sunny as we watched hikers on the hills and listened to softly played guitars and a violin accompany lovely harmony. Very slowly a family of deer walked through the area and we all just froze in a common experience of awe. The bar has continued to rise so now the conference has more tangents with the Keys for Success, Glad Rags,Cookie/Pie Live Auction, Keynote, business meeting and announcements at meals.

What has been dropped that you miss about them and want back?

The generous amount of free time…!

What leadership roles have you played, or workshops have you lead?

Asheville, N.C., 2009  I presented a workshop titled Music for Montessori.
Los Gatos, CA., 2010 I was the chair for the conference.
Hyannis, MA, 2011 I helped with registration.
Zion, IL. 2012, I presented a Song Swap for Early Childhood.
Los Gatos, CA, 2013 I was a buddy to a new member
Leesburg, VA., 2014 I was unable to attend.
Los Gatos, CA., 2016 I will have the pleasure of co-chairing the conference with Kathleen Rushing

What was your favorite location and why?

I truly enjoyed them all…! It is the people who make the conference for me

See you at the conference!


  1. I agree with Liz. Love the Conferences and have only missed one in the last 10 years. It’s too wonderful to miss no matter where in the country it is!
    The networking and comeraderie are fantastic. Such a caring group of people and the singing in umpteen part harmony is soul-feeding.
    And if Liz Hannan is asked to get on stage to help with a song, she is so funny tears will stream down your face! I’ll never forget her helping Wiley Rankin with his dog sing along with Tom Pease. One of the funniest things I ever witnessed. I think that the pic for this piece came from that.

  2. Thank you, Liz, for sharing your story. The conference is indeed a magical time – and an event I look forward to every year! Friendship, learning, laughter, MUSIC! What’s not to love!

  3. Thanks, Liz, for great picture and reminders about how rich the gatherings are!
    Thank you for being so involved in past conferences and for working on 2016.
    Looking forward to meeting you in person!!

  4. love, love, love the gatherings. It’s like being a cheerleader at a camp sing-a-long with your new best friends…..

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