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Where the most Inspired Musicians
become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

Summer 2023 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Acquired Skills of Outstanding Ensemble Directors


June 5-July 28, 2023

Course Code



3 Graduate Credits


$1,080 is due in full with registration.


Guest Teachers are Craig Kirchhoff, Stephen Squires, Bill Jastrow, Don Stinson and Chip De Stefano. Learn from outstanding ensemble directors how to cultivate the habits that will revitalize and invigorate your teaching from the podium. Recharge your enthusiasm for meticulous planning, skill building, score study and meaningful gestures. This course will help you take command of the musical growth of your students and engage their musical imagination. It will teach you how to let composer intent guide your score preparation and set rehearsal priorities. Reset your confidence in the musical capabilities of your students and motivate them to become independent learners. Differentiate your teaching so that you create a more inclusive environment.

This is not your typical conducting class. Roughly half of the course content deals with composer intent, score analysis and rehearsal strategies. The other half will be spent on conducting gesture and expressive movement. Class members will be sharing videos of their conducting so that Professor Kirchhoff and Squires can provide feedback. You will choose two contrasting pieces or sections to conduct (3-minute maximum for each selection). You will record yourself conducting recordings of the two selections to share during class. 

Featured speakers include: (Topics are subject to change)

Monday, June 5:  Introductions and Course Overview

Wednesday, June 7:  Think Like a Composer Bill Jastrow

Monday, June 12: Concepts of Musicianship and Setting Priorities

Wednesday, June 14: Engaging Students in Setting Rehearsal Priorities Chip De Stefano

Monday June 19: Reflecting your values and the values of the people in your ecosystem

Wednesday, June 21:  Empowering All Students to Succeed Don Stinson

Monday, June 26: Skill Building

Wednesday, June 28: Stephen Squires Basics, personal skills, tuning 

Monday, July 3 No class

Wednesday, July 5:  Craig Kirchhoff Emotional Connection Through Movement

Monday July 10: Discussion of Kirchhoff and Squires lectures

Wednesday, July 12: Stephen Squires conducting videos feedback

Monday and Wednesday July 13 and 15: Score Marking and Analysis

Monday, July 17:  Evaluation of class conducting videos

Wednesday, July 19: Meaningful Gestures

Monday, July 24: Preparation for conducting videos

Wednesday, July 26: Craig Kirchhoff conducting videos feedback Q/A discussion, Summary

Guest Instructors:

Craig Kirchhoff

Craig Kirchhoff is Professor Emeritus of Conducting and Director Emeritus of University Bands at the University of Minnesota where he conducted the University Wind Ensemble and guest conducted in the University Opera Program. Prior to his appointment to the faculty of the University of Minnesota, Professor Kirchhoff served in a similar capacity as Director of Bands at The Ohio State University for fourteen years, as Director of Bands at Washington State University for two years, and Associate Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for one year.

Mr. Kirchhoff was the recipient of The Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award and The Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award. Professor Kirchhoff has appeared as guest conductor, clinician, and lecturer throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, Europe, and Scandinavia. He enjoyed a long association with the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra during Frederick Fennell’s tenure as Music Director and he has recorded with them on the Kosei Publishing label. Professor Kirchhoff was awarded the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic Medal of Honor in 2018, was presented with the College Band Directors National Association Life-Time Achievement Award in 2019, and was awarded the Phi Beta Mu Bandmaster of the Year Award at the 2019 Midwest Clinic. Professor Kirchhoff serves as a Yamaha Master Educator.

Stephen Squires
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Stephen Squires is a musician with a career that blends his passions for conducting, teaching, and performing. Mr. Squires has had the honor to conduct for many exceptional artists, including Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, Janos Starker, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shmuel Ashkenasi, John Browning, Leon Bates, Stewart Goodyear, Richard Stoltzman, Ani Kavafian, Wendy Warner, James Tocco, Kevin Cole, Vadim Gluzman, Alexander Fiterstein, and most of the principal players of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras. Fully committed to conducting the music of living composers, he has premiered over one hundred new works.

Mr. Squires received his musical training at the Preparatory School of the Eastman School of Music and the Crane School of Music, in his home state of New York. He earned his graduate degree in Instrumental Conducting and Trumpet Performance at California State University, Northridge. Further conducting studies were with Helmuth Rilling, Maurice Abravanel, Daniel Lewis, Tsung Yeh, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Squires has conducted recordings for the Delos, Spring Hill (a division of EMI), MEDR, Editions de la Rue Margot, Albany, MSR Classics, and Centaur labels.
Stephen Squires has enjoyed a more than forty-year career as a Professor of Music. He is currently Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. Prior to this appointment he served on the artist faculty of the Northern Illinois School of Music, where he received the prestigious “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.”

Mr. Squires’ current professional appointments include Music Director of the Fox Valley Symphony (Aurora, IL), Music Director of the Millar Brass (Evanston, IL), and Music Director of the Illinois Brass Band (Arlington Heights, IL). He is the former Music Director of the Illinois Chamber Symphony, and for more than thirty years, the Resident Conductor of the Elgin Symphony. Mr. Squires has guest conducted the Chicago Symphony, the Syracuse Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, the Columbus (OH) Symphony, the Rockford Symphony, and the Chicago Composers Orchestra. In addition, he is an accomplished recital accompanist, freelance trumpeter, and frequent guest conductor.

Bill Jastrow
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William Jastrow’s professional experience comprises 40+ years of vocal and instrumental music teaching and music education administration in Illinois public schools. A retired member of the Indian Prairie School District 204 music faculty, Bill maintains an active schedule as a conductor, clinician, arranger, and music education advocate. He has appeared as a clinician/conductor at numerous district, state and national music conferences and festivals, including the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference and as conductor of the Illinois All-State Band.

From twelve years, Bill served as a member of the Illinois Music Education Association Board of Directors, first as Band Division President and then as State President. In addition, Bill has authored numerous articles for the Illinois Music Educator on the vital role that music must play in a comprehensive education for all students. As ILMEA Past-President, Bill contributed to the planning of “Dream Out Loud”, a joint advocacy initiative with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
and Yamaha Corporation. Currently, Bill serves on the Board of Directors for ARTSpeaks, a nonprofit association dedicated to raising community awareness of the critical role that quality public school arts programs play in developing the competitive edge 21st century students need for success.

Bill holds degrees in music education from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University. He has been recognized as a Most Influential Educator by the Indian Prairie Educational Foundation, received special recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education for “Contributions to Education,” honored by the National Association for Music Education with a Teaching Music Award, and inducted into the Phi Beta Mu Illinois Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

Don Stinson
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Don Stinson is the author of High Needs, Monumental Successes: Understanding: Teaching Music to Low-Income and Underserved Students, available from GIA Publications. As a former low-income student teaching at the school he attended, Don strives to advocate for students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Don is the Director of Bands at Joliet Central High School in Joliet, IL, only the fifth director in the band’s 111-year history. He has the distinct pleasure of leading a program that serves a diverse population in socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds. The band has appeared several times at prestigious state and national festivals. In 2021, the band was invited for a special performance at the 75th Midwest Clinic. Don has received several recognitions, including the Yale University Educator Award, multiple citations of excellence from the National Band Association, and the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award. He is a 2021 Yamaha’s 40 Under 40 Music Educator and a recipient of the Dr. William P. Foster Project Community Development Award. He is a member of the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmaster’s Fraternity, the National Band Association, the American School Band Directors Association, and the Illinois Music Educators Association.

He is a National Board Certified Teacher. Don hosts the music education podcast The Bandmasters Podcast, found at Don is the president of Legacy Fine Arts Inc. NFP, a non-profit that provides music mentoring and programs for underserved youth. His writing can be found on the Yamaha Education Suite. For more information, please visit

Chip De Stefano
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Chip De Stefano received both his Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance and Master of Music Education Degrees from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, he studied conducting with John P. Paynter, Steve Peterson, and Don Owens, trombone with Frank Crisafulli and Art Linsner, and music education with Bennett Reimer, Donald Casey, Jim Kjelland, and Peter Webster.

Mr. De Stefano is currently in his 27th year as Director of Bands at McCracken Middle School in Skokie, Illinois. Under his direction, the McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band has received first division ratings at all district and state organization contests of the Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA) and has made multiple appearances at the Illinois Music Educators Association (ILMEA) All-State Conference, University of Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festival, CBDNA-NBA North Central Division Conference, and NAfME North Central Division Conference. In 2006 and 2013 the Symphonic Band received an invitation to present a concert at the Midwest Clinic: An International Band and Orchestra Conference. In December of 2006, the John Philip Sousa Foundation awarded the McCracken Symphonic Band the prestigious Sudler Silver Cup.

As a published arranger and composer, Mr. De Stefano has received commissions from the marching bands of Northwestern University, Samford University, the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, the University of Idaho and dozens of high schools from across the United States. His works have been performed on ABC’s 1996 Rose Bowl Halftime Show, Live! with Regis and Kathy Lee, and WBBM News Radio 780. Mr. De Stefano’s works are available from FJH Music, LudwigMasters Publications, Grand Mesa Music, Kagarice Brass Editions and

Mr. De Stefano has had chapters published in Foundations: The Fundamental Elements for Building a Successful Middle School Band Program, Teaching Music Through Performance in Middle School Band, and Whatsoever Things…The Life and Teachings of John P. Paynter all published by GIA Publications. Chorales and Beyond, co-authored with Timothy Loest and Kevin Lepper is published by FJH Music. His professional affiliations include the Illinois Music Educators Association, Illinois Grade School Music Association, the National Band Association (Board of Directors, Middle School Representative), All-Illinois Junior Band (Board of Directors), Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and he was recently honored with membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.

Mr. De Stefano is active nationally as a clinician, guest conductor, and adjudicator. He’s conducted honor bands, festivals and camps in Singapore, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and throughout Illinois. In addition, he has presented conference sessions at the Midwest Clinic (2008, 2021, 2022), ILMEA Music Education Conference (2003, 2005, 2008, 2016), Iowa Bandmasters Conference (2010), Nebraska Music Educators Association State Conference (2011), New England Band Director Institute (2016), Arkansas Tech University Band Director Workshop (2013), NBA/IGSMA Band Director Workshop (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021), Illinois State University Band Director Workshop (2012, 2019), DuPage County Music Clinic (2009, 2014, 2021), and multiple webinars and online panels. Mr. De Stefano is a recipient of over twenty National Band Association Citations of Excellence. He was awarded the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award in 2001, the IGSMA Barbara Buehlmann Young Conductor Award in 2004, the IGSMA Cloyd Meyers Memorial Award in 2011, and the Skokie Award for Artistic Excellence in 2016.


Chat Session

Zoom Discussions on Mondays 4:00-5:00PM and Wednesdays 4:00-6:00PM Central Time (Required)



Required Text(s)


Learning Platform Information - Online Courses Only

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

The evening  before your class begins, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. 

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

More information about Schoology can be found at

Please see specific software/hardware requirements in the course description.

Online course grades are available within two weeks of the course(s) completion.  If you need a transcript, please CLICK HERE to access the online transcript request form. For a faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


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Charles "Chip" Staley

Charles “Chip” Staley is the Department Chair of Large Instrumental Ensembles, serves on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Antiracism (IDEA) leadership team and conducts the Wind Symphony at the Merit School of Music in Chicago. Staley is the Founder and President of ARTSpeaks, a non-profit arts advocacy organization, supervises student teachers at Roosevelt University, facilitates the “Alive Inside” program for AgeGuide, co-founded the Birch Creek Wind Ensemble Retreat for adult musicians, and teaches graduate coursework at VanderCook College of Music. Under Staley’s leadership, Neuqua Valley High School was twice recognized by the GRAMMY® Foundation as the National GRAMMY® Signature School and was awarded the 2009 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award. Staley holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign and Doctor Honoris Causa from the VanderCook College of Music. He has been awarded the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Music Inspiration Award, the John Paynter Lifetime Achievement Award, the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Flag of Honor, the Illinois Music Educators Association Mary Hoffman Excellence in Teaching Award, and the American School Band Directors Association Edwin Franko Goldman Award.

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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