NMU music students attend Annual Michigan Music Conference


Photo Courtesy of Mark Flaherty, Music Department Head

MUSIC CONFERENCE – NMU Jazz Combo (pictured below the staircase) performing after attending the collegiate reception at the 18th Annual Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids. NMU NAfME (pictured at the top of the stairs) also attended the collegiate reception.

Ryley Wilcox

The NMU student National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) chapter, NMU jazz combo and the NMU arts chorale, traveled downstate last week to the 18th Annual Michigan Music Conference hosted at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The conference featured concerts, performances and informational sessions. In addition to the conference, the music groups got to tour and perform through high schools and venues throughout the state. 

Jondular Schertz, president of the NAfME chapter at NMU, and a secondary education and music major, said the trip gave the music department a chance to show off Northern’s musical talent. 

“The trip was a great way for us to share our music programs and to join other music educators and college students to learn and grow as musicians and educators,” Schertz said.

The NAfME advances music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all, according to their website

“I learned so much and I have so much more knowledge to bring back and share about something I’m passionate about,” Schertz said. “It enhances our education by giving us opportunities to further our growth as music educators.”  

The arts chorale toured around Grand Rapids, singing to high school choir programs. On Thursday, the group was used in a demonstration for conducting a masterclass.

The jazz combo also played for high schools throughout Michigan, as well as the New Holland Knickerbocker Brewery. 

The tour allowed for Northern students to share the opportunities in music that are available at Northern. 

“The students we interacted with all had different levels of knowledge of NMU and our music department, but after the tour we were able to give many high school students a taste of the wonderful music department we have at NMU,” Schertz said.

The tour also acted as a recruitment opportunity for the department.

“Some of these kids don’t even know where NMU is, much less that we have a wide variety of music ensembles and a whole music department,” Schertz said.

Afterwards the group attended the NAfME collegiate reception. The main focus of the reception was to announce the new executive board and for networking with other music educators in the state, Schertz said. 

After touring, the music education majors attended informational sessions on various topics at the annual music conference.

 The informational sessions gave them a chance to learn subjects not typically covered in the classroom, including neurodivergence in music educators, music outside the classroom and how to start non-profits for community ensembles.

“Not very often do we sit down in band class and talk about how to create a cover letter, but because of this conference we were able to learn more in such a short period of time,” Schertz said.

All of these opportunities on the trip allowed for the music program students at Northern to gain new experiences.

“Between the singing and attending the conference sessions, I feel more rounded out as an education student,” Schertz said. “It’s just one of the many reasons I love studying music at NMU, because of experiences like this.”