As with many events planned during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indiana Music Education Association Professional Development Conference was canceled last year to prevent spreading the virus.

But on Jan. 13-15, at the Grand Wayne Center, the statewide gathering is back and ready to safely serve music educators. According to the IMEA’s website, the Professional Development Conference is the largest, most diverse professional development event for Indiana music educators. Music teachers of all levels and classrooms gather at this three-day conference to participate in more than 100 sessions and meetings with nearly 100 clinicians.

Homestead High School Jazz Band will perform at 9 a.m. Saturday.

This year’s conference has specific safety protocols. The event website says that attendees who feel ill are asked not to attend. IMEA will be supplying green, yellow and red lanyards for attendees at the registration desk. Each color has a meaning associated with it. A green lanyard means that the person wearing it is comfortable with close contact, such as hugs and handshakes. People with a yellow lanyard are comfortable with fist bumps and elbow bumps as proper greetings. Red lanyards are for people who want to stay socially distanced.

IMEA is requiring all attendees to wear a mask while attending conference sessions and events.

Education sessions will be socially distanced as space permits.

Changes to this policy could be made before the event, depending on the state of the pandemic. IMEA advises checking the website closer to the event.

On Jan. 13, a pre-conference workshop will be held at the Grand Wayne Center from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be a lunch break during that time. People can register online at conference.imeamusic.org/pre-conference.

The workshop, entitled “Back to Basics: The Building Blocks of Orff Schulwerk,” will feature two presenters — Laura Bercaw Petersen and Betsy Kipperman Sebring.

According to the conference website, Petersen teaches music in Washington, D.C., holds Level III and Master Class certifications in Orff-Schulwerk and has studied at the Orff Institut in Salzburg, Austria. She teaches movement in AOSA-approved levels courses and presents locally and nationally. In addition to serving on her local MAC-AOSA board, she served as Region IV representative on the National Board of Trustees of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. She currently serves as the National Conference chair for the 2021 AOSA Conference.

Kipperman Sebring has taught general music for more than 20 years. She served on AOSA’s national board as one of the Region IV representatives and currently serves on the Executive Board as treasurer. She attended the Orff Institut in summer 2007 and the Special Course 2010-2011. Kipperman Sebring teaches Level II at the University of Kentucky and George Mason University in the summer. During the year, she teaches elementary and preschool music in Washington, D.C.

One keynote speaker that has been announced is Jacob James Narverud. He is an American composer, conductor, arranger, orchestrator and pianist. Known for his eclectic choral catalog, Narverud is internationally recognized for his original compositions, Broadway and popular music arrangements, and new editions of standard choral works from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras.

His music is performed worldwide by choirs of all levels. Among his most performed works are “Ad Astra,” “Dominus Vobiscum,” “Lunar Lullaby” and “Sisi Ni Moja.” Narverud is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and conferences and an active guest conductor and clinician for festivals and all-state choirs across the United States. His music is published by Santa Barbara, Alliance, Carl Fischer, Alfred, G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard and JN Music. Many of his Editors’ Choice compositions are publisher Best Sellers. “Sisi Ni Moja,” performed for the Prince of Wales in 2018, was the No. 1 bestseller for Santa Barbara Music in 2019 and 2020

Many performances will be taking place throughout the day on Jan. 14 and 15. Purdue Fort Wayne University Singers will take the stage Jan. 14 at 11 a.m., North Castle Middle School Eighth Grade Band will perform at 2:30 the same day. The following day will feature performances from many organizations such as the Homestead High School Jazz Band, the All-State Orchestra and the Northern Illinois University Wind Ensemble.

Homestead Jazz Band Director Jason Witzigreuter said that groups who would like to perform at the conference need to audition.

“For the state convention, if you are interested in having your group perform for the next conference, they have an application and audition process,” Witzigreuter said. “So we filled out the application and submitted a recording of our band playing three contrasting pieces. We sent a recording in from something we did last year. Then they gave us a call this summer and told us we were accepted to perform.”

This will be the first time the Homestead Jazz Band will perform at the conference. They will play eight songs, with their entire set lasting approximately 40 minutes.

“We’ve got a variety of jazz styles we will be doing,” Witzigreuter said. “Anything from Latin to swing style to Duke Ellington, some modern jazz, just a big variety of different things that we will be doing.”

The band performs at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Witzigreuter said something special happened this year.

“What that All-State ensemble is is basically a selection of the top jazz students in the state of Indiana,” Witzigreuter said. “They are the first two Homestead jazz students we ever had that were selected into the All-State Jazz Band.”

Lead alto saxophone player Sai Ramani and lead trumpet player Steven Win are the two who auditioned and earned spots in that ensemble.

The All-State Jazz Band performs at noon Friday.

Witzigreuter, who will also be participating in the conference, said they are excited to play for a live audience again.

“Coming off of a year of COVID and kind of an interesting year with kids’ performances and not being able to do a lot of things for live audiences, they are just really excited to be able to do this for the state and have a nice audience to support them,” Witzigreuter said. “That’s been a big thing this year, just being grateful to getting back to in-person performances.”

For more information about the event, including the full performance schedule, visit conference.imeamusic.org.

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