Campfire Discussions

What are Campfire Discussions?

The goal of Campfire Discussions is to inspire open dialogue in which the attendees generate most of the discussion and knowledge sharing. Campfire Discussions begin much the same as a traditional presentation, with a speaker at the front of the room sharing a provoking concept or idea. After about 15 minutes, however, the focus shifts from the presenter to the audience. For the remainder of the session, the presenter becomes a moderator, inviting responses to comments and questions from those around the room and letting the audience dictate the ultimate direction of the conversation based on the moderators’ introductory ideas. Campfire Discussions allow attendees to drive their own learning, listen to multiple perspectives on the same issue, and share experiences with individuals throughout the room. The moderators will offer a summative statement at the end of the session based on the group discussions.

2021 Campfire Discussions:

Let’s Go There: Courageous Conversations on Race in Music Education
Thursday, October 7
1:30–2:25 p.m.                                                                                                                                                       
Highland G

William L. Lake, Jr. (SUNY–Potsdam)
LaToya A. Webb (University of Texas–Austin)

The U.S. Census reveals that the racial demographics in the United States are shifting. With these changes, educators must also reimagine ideals, methods, pedagogies, and practices in order to champion diverse students in the music education classroom.

This presentation will provide an opportunity for conversations surrounding Anti-Blackness (and other intersectionalities), deflected conclusions in demographic statistical research in music education about representation in American music programs, and methods of evaluating current practices to identify areas of necessary improvement.

Attendees will leave the presentation with a collaborative list of evaluation metrics for programs and courses of various types to navigate inclusive missions. This campfire discussion will model critical evaluation of recent literature using Glenn Singleton’s Curious Conversations about Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools in order to navigate institutional challenges concerning diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Moral Leadership: The Role of a Music Executive in a Pandemic
Friday, October 8
1:30–2:25 p.m.                                                                                                                                                       
Highland G

Valentin Bogdan (Mississippi University for Women)
Julia Mortyakova (Mississippi University for Women)

As our institutions went online March 2020 in response to the outbreak of Covid-19, most of us did not know what would happen next. However, those of us in leadership positions knew we had to prepare for all contingencies. Some institutions made decisions early to remain online in the fall, otherwise were waiting throughout the summer to make the decision. Music was in a unique position, due to resounding evidence that certain activities, such as singing, contributed to the spread of the virus. As a result, music departments and administrators had difficult decisions to make: do they sound the alarm of having in-person activities in their field and move to remote learning in the fall even though the institution was aiming for a face-to-face instruction? Or, do they simply follow the lead of the upper administration?

There were music departments and executives who emerged as leaders and advocates for their constituents and who managed to transition their programs into remote learning early-on in the summer. This session will focus on these decisions as examples of moral leadership or making decisions based on what is truly the best decision for the people in one’s charge, as opposed to what may be the easier or politically safe. The presenters of this campfire discussion will use the response to the coronavirus pandemic as an example, a starting point for the discussion about leadership in musical academia and what role moral responsibility plays in making difficult decisions both as music executives and faculty.

Social Justice and the Variable Wind Band
Saturday, October 9
9:00–9:55 a.m.                                                                                                                                                       
Cascade DEF

Joshua Kearney (University of Nebraska at Omaha)
Jared Staub (Plymouth State University)

Historically, music has often reflected the social and political climates of its respective time. Music composed today is no different—often alluding to some of the more prominent and painful aspects of contemporary American society. In recent years, choral compositions referencing social justice issues have become more widely incorporated and more openly discussed. In 2017, Chorus America, an organization focusing on “advocacy, research, and the advancement of the choral field,” launched an initiative in recognition of the need for repertoire that speaks to equity, advocacy, and social justice.

Like their choral peers, students in college wind bands have a variety of ensemble experiences based on many factors: size and enrollment of the institution, locale, politics, college/university affiliations, etc. Outside of the premiere ensembles at many universities, college wind bands often struggle to maintain complete and standard instrumentation due to irregular meeting schedules and rotating enrollment. Programming for ensembles that regularly face these challenges is often a daunting task in its own right, before even considering music that speaks to the current socio-political climate. This campfire discussion will be a forum to discuss challenges as they relate to repertoire and the social justice concert experience.

The Power of the Student Voice: Community, Communication, and Advocacy
Saturday, October 9
11:00–11:55 a.m.                                                                                                                                                   
Highland G

Jenn LaRue (University of Georgia)
Jennifer Snodgrass (Appalachian State University)
Gene S. Trantham (Bowling Green State University)

The music students that populate our college and university campuses want to be instigators of change. They want to feel like their voice matters and are striving to better understand the avenues to where they can have their voices heard. Students are invested in topics such as race and inclusion, equity, and diversity in curriculum, assessment and in musical styles. These issues arise before a student even arrives on campus. What message are faculty and administrators sending to our current students when students see the initial requirements for auditions or entrance exams? Are faculty and administration already stating what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in these two gateway experiences? What changes are currently being discussed and are students being invited to participate in the discussion?

How can both faculty and students foster a sense of community in order to have difficult conversations, a true dialogue that leads to action without fear of retaliation and retribution? If the route of communication is left more open, perhaps the goals and value of the institution are better clarified, leading to a healthier culture for students, faculty and administration. This panel, populated by student members of the Student Advisory Council, seeks to create an open dialogue regarding the power of the student voice and how students can be a part of change and part of the discussion.