Music educators conference to focus on symphonic band

The St. Thomas Symphonic Band will attend the annual Minnesota Music Educators Association conference on Thursday. The band has been invited to serve as a demonstration group for guest conductor Scott Teeple.

Teeple, director of bands at the University of Wisconsin, will conduct rehearsal with the band while other music educators from around the state watch his process.

Douglas Orzolek, St. Thomas’ Symphonic Band director, said he is proud that the group was chosen to take part in this demonstration.

“The UST Symphonic Band is the perfect group to help out Professor Teeple,” Orzolek said. “Because the symphonic band has already experienced some of this in [its] regular rehearsals, they will be able to help the music teachers see that this kind of process is quite possible with their own groups.”

Freshman band member Katie Johnson, a music education major, said she hopes to see other beneficial teaching techniques.

During the conference, Teeple will question band members and ask them to share their thoughts about the performance. Orzolek said this will encourage the students to explore the interpretative options and possibilities of a piece of music.

“The fun part is that sometimes those decisions and ideas work out well, and sometimes they don’t,” Orzolek said.

Laura Craig, another freshman in the band, said she is looking forward to getting comfortable with other directors and seeing how other people interpret the music.

“It’ll give us, the band, the opportunity to experience working with another director,” freshman band member Jacob Monson said. “We can learn what he sees in the music so we can adapt to it.”

Orzolek said Teeple has a particular interest in engaging the members of an ensemble in some of the musical decisions that are normally only made by a conductor, a benefit for both the Tommies and the professors.

“While [the students] have the chance to expose others to their music making and passion for band, they will also be helping hundreds of teachers think about how they can make their rehearsals more collaborative,” Orzolek said.

The annual Minnesota Music Educators Association conference takes place Thursday through Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, with the St. Thomas symphonic band participating Thursday afternoon.

Kelly Trussell can be reached at