Conference Reflections and Expectations

The conference continues to draw nearer, and members old and new are looking forward to it. Today we tried a new take on our continued reflections on the experience. We asked Val Smalkin, who has never attended, to reflect on her time with CMN and this year’s Keynote Speaker, Stuart Stotts to share his feelings about the event and CMN.

The 2014 Conference
The 2014 Conference photo by Kayte Deioma

From Val:

How did you come to join CMN?

I joined once a long, along time ago…early 90’s but it was not a good fit for me then. I’ve always been aware of CMN and was delighted to join again a few years ago for camaraderie and amazing song resources.

How have the conferences changed over the years?

As this will be my first conference I’m not sure…but I do remember one that was to take place in a camping ground and thus I did not go as I am not a camper…I’m too attached to comfort…

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

I’ll be offering a workshop on “Circle Singing” which is not the same at rounds. It’s a fresh way of composing a sort of ostinato based music on the spot with voices. Loads of fun!

What were the fundraisers you felt have really worked well?

Just ask me…I’ll give!

What was your favorite location and why?

Well, my favorite location would be Cockeysville, MD, but I think I’m the only one who would like that!

From Keynote Speaker, Stuart Stotts:

Stuart at a past conference.

CMN offers a unique opportunity for musicians who focus on children’s music and education to share ideas, songs, stories, opinions, fun, and skills. One of the best things about conferences past is the late night singing followed by joke telling. The energy just doesn’t stop. It’s great to be one of the last ones up, as I have been many times.

I was at the first CMN gathering, in 1990, and it was amazing. Small, maybe 40 people. It opened my eyes to whole new worlds of possibility for singing and songwriting. It completely altered my life. I’ve lead song writing workshops, and also one on arts integration. I’ve always wanted to help musicians connect to what’s going on in schools, without giving up their souls. I’ve also helped with the round robin, which is a blast and a chore. I remember standing next to Pete Seeger. Listening to Ella Jenkins. Feeling in the presence of legends, and also feeling their authentic and down to earth sensibilities and love of music. I love Dave’s cookies. They are the best fundraisers, and he is so generous and kind.

See you in Mt. Zion!


1 comment

  1. I am a new CMN member and will be presenting at this years conference. I’m looking forward to meeting fellow musicians who work with children, and am hoping to glean new ideas from them. My own children will be attending and we are making this conference a family event!!

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