Special Focus Sessions

2017 Sessions made possible by a generous grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Thank you!!     



– Orff In the Urban (or any) Classroom (Primary)                                                                       
– Orff in the Urban (or any) Classroom (Intermediate)

LeslieAnn Bird.jpgLeslieAnne Bird is a music and movement educator in North Olmsted, Ohio. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Houghton College in New York. In addition to teaching general music for grades K-1 and 4-6, LeslieAnne teaches 5th and 6th grade band and orchestra as well as 4th-6th grade choir. LeslieAnne earned her Orff Certification from Baldwin Wallace University in 2014, and has completed Level One World Music Drumming training.


– Using Music as a Vehicle to Enhance One’s Life

tom-bracyTom Bracy was a band director for the Archdiocese of Chicago for nearly 30 years. During this time, he also worked in other capacities throughout the Chicago area. These positions included a 13-year tenure with Merit School of Music, a Chicago-based community music school. Before joining Merit, he was executive director of the Association for Catholic Music Education. Tom joined the Conn-Selmer Division of Education in January, 2015.


– Small School, Big Program, No Problem: Recruitment and Retention in a Small, Rural District 

joe-carverJoe Carver will be a first year Ph.D. student studying music education at The Ohio State University beginning in the fall of 2016. Joe has nine years of public school experience including eight of those as director of the award winning Johnstown High School “BIG RED BAND”. During Joe’s tenure in Johnstown, the band increased in numbers each year. In his final year, the band program’s membership was at 200 students. (40% of the high school enrollment).

– Beethoven to Beatbox: Building Thriving Orchestras in Urban Schools

Lois Clark-Ramey loves to teach music and has tuned violins, replaced strings, rosined bows, studied scores, and rewritten melodies into string friendly keys for thirty three years. She has discovered the joy of teaching urban young musicians in grades five through twelve and connecting them to the world outside their neighborhoods. She now serves as the Orchestra Magnet Director at Stivers School for the Arts in the Dayton Public Schools.

– What Does “Urban” Music Education Mean: Discussing the Discourse                                                                                
– Inner-City Schools: Keys to Success

dawn-farmerDawn Farmer is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Saint Mary’s College. She holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University, a Masters from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelors from the University of Arizona. She has taught public school music in Tucson, AZ and the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. areas. Dawn Farmer has taught band, orchestra, and general music in grades 3-12, and also undergraduate and graduate coursework.

– Getting to Know our Students: Building Upon Strengths in Urban and Under-Resourced Schools
– Setting Goals and Developing Your Own Definition of Success in Urban and Under-Resourced Settings     
– Urban Music Education: A Counternarrative Based on Contextually Specific Teaching

Kate Fitzpatrick


– The Only Constant is Change: Musings of an Urban Veteran Music Teacher
– Life, Music, and Social Justice for All 

rachael-fleischakerRachael Fleischaker is a doctoral student in music education at Kent State.  She holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis on Urban Education. She is an adjunct professor at the College of Wooster and has taught for The Ohio State University Mansfield Campus. She has taught elementary band and vocal music in the public schools for 21 years, serving the past 19 years in the Canton City Schools.

– Making Music with Today’s Urban Students

Timothy Fuchtman is a graduate of Colorado State U (BM) and Drake University (MM).  He has completed Orff levels I, II, III, and curriculum, Kodaly levels I and II.  His students were selected for All-State Jazz Ensembles in both Kansas and Iowa. He has extensive experience teaching improvisation.  He is currently President of the Cincinnati AOSA, and teaches music K-6 at College Hill Fundamental Academy in the Cincinnati Public School system.

– Building Community through STEAM                                                                                                                                                                       

john-hillJohn Hill is a retired assistant superintendent who began his career as a music educator. He currently serves as an education consultant and is the el Sistema coordinator for the Horizon Education Alliance in Elkhart County, Indiana.  Between serving as a music educator and an assistant superintendent, he has been as assistant principal, a high school principal and a director of curriculum and instruction.

– Something Out Of Nothing: How to be Successful in an Urban District

Lisa Hirzel has spent over 20 years teaching choir, band, general music (and anything else needed) in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, grades pre-K through 12. She holds a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University and a Masters in Urban Education from Cambridge College. Married to Tim and mom of 4, Lisa stays busy also volunteering as a band mom, doing local theatre and singing in her church choir.

– Promoting Healthy Growth and Development in Children and Communities Through Music

margaret-martinMargaret Martin is a doctor of public health. She is Founder and National Director of Harmony Project, a music-based mentoring program that provides instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles. Affiliated programs have launched across seven states. Margaret Martin works within Harmony Project of America to support a growing national network of affiliates.



– Building Your Instrumental Music Program in Urban and Rural Schools

kevin-mixonKevin Mixon began his teaching career in rural and suburban schools in Illinois. His urban instrumental groups in New York were widely recognized for achievement including consistent superior ratings at regional festivals. He is an accomplished composer and arranger with published works for band and orchestra. He holds music education degrees from Syracuse University, University of Illinois, and is a doctoral student at Georgia State University.

Music Without Borders: Making Travel Meaningful and Accessible for Low-Income Families

morales-torresFelipe Morales-Torres is a vibrant young music teacher with a passion for community. He serves as Orchestra Director for Winton Wood City Schools and Assistant Conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Concert Orchestra. In 2014, he was recognized as Young Teacher of the Year by the Ohio String Teachers Association. He came to public school teaching after helping to create Dayton Philharmonic’s “Q The Music,” an El Sistema inspired outreach program.

– From Rural to Urban: Building and maintaining a Successful Choral Program

Brian Nabors is a graduate from The Ohio State University, where he earned his BME.  Following graduation, Brian taught in the Mansfield City School District, the Chicago Public Schools System, and is presently teaching at Shelby Middle and High School. In addition, Brian serves as the musical director for various high school and community productions. Brian also serves as a clinician and adjudicator for the Ohio Music Educators Association.

– The Ur-band Program, Building and Maintaining a Music Program in an Inner Ring Suburb. Our Kids Can!

Jennifer Shauf has a B.M.E. from The College of Wooster and a M.M.E. from Kent State.  She has taught every grade from grades K-12 in her 24 years of teaching.  Her current assignment includes 7-12 band.  She is the director of 4 middle school bands and a middle school jazz band, co-teach Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and Marching Band at Bedford High School. She has been a member of music education delegations to both South Africa and China with Lynn Brinckmeyer.

– Avoiding Urban Music Education Cuts: A Cautionary Tale

Ryan D. Shaw is assistant professor of music education at Capital University, where he oversees the undergraduate music education program. Prior to coming to Capital, Ryan also taught middle school and high school band in Michigan.

– Fostering Social Justice Through Music Education in Urban Communities and Beyond

julia-shawJulia Shaw is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University, an MM in conducting from Butler University, a BME from Indiana University. She has worked extensively with public school and professional children’s choirs, including the Chicago and the Indianapolis Children’s Choirs. An active choral clinician, Julia Shaw has served as guest conductor for numerous All-State and honor choirs.

– Movement from a Muse: Building Blocks for Character and Creativity in the Underserved Classroom
– Mindful Management: Moving Beyond the Obstacles of the Underserved Classroom

laura-stackLaura Stack utilizes her Orff-Schulwerk certification, experience at the Kodaly Institute of Hungary, and performing adventures to spread love through music. After working in Chicago Public Schools and mentoring teachers through the Academy for Urban School Leadership, Laura now teaches at High Point Elementary School (Title I) in Clearwater, FL. In addition to teaching music, she is a national presenter, clinician, and AOSA Movement Instructor.



– African-American Folk Songs and Games for Rural and Urban Students

pamela-stoverPamela Stover, Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Toledo, supervises student teachers and teaches early childhood and general music courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is a frequent clinician and has taught or presented research throughout North America, Europe, China and Australia. She holds a PhD from Indiana University and the Orff-Schulwerk Mastery Certificate from the University of St. Thomas.

– Success in the Small School Vocal Music Program: One Approach to Achieving It

james-vaughnJames Vaughn is in his seventeenth year as the vocal music teacher at Van Buren Local Schools, where he teaches over two-hundred and thirty students in grades six through twelve. Choirs under his direction have received numerous Superior ratings at OMEA Adjudicated Events at both the middle and high school levels. He was recently selected as an Outstanding Music Educator of the Year by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.