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Where the most Inspired Musicians
become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

Spring 2024 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Mastering Focus and Concentration in the Classroom


February 12-May 3, 2024

Course Code



3 Graduate Credits


$1,125 is due in full with registration. A $15 Early Bird Discount will be applied until January 14.


In an era of technology-mediated relationships and overwhelming amounts of information at our fingertips, we are constantly exposed to attention-grabbing activities that can erode our ability to focus and function optimally in and outside the classroom.  How can we regain a sense of control in our inter-connected and fast-moving world? How do we teach a reward-seeking generation of students and help them survive and thrive in the attention economy?  This course offers practical and proven strategies to reclaim focus, cultivate brain fitness, and optimize productivity for students and teachers alike. The course addresses the most common focus-hindering factors of contemporary life and explores behavioral and cognitive tools to gain control over our brains and behaviors. We will explore building health-promoting habits by goal setting and mindfulness.  At the end of this course, you will have acquired an essential toolkit of science-supported focus and concentration strategies that can be tailored to your performance needs, and that of your students, for any work environment or situation.

The following topics will be discussed:

The Anatomy of Attention

Time Management Essentials

Recognizing Focus-Hindering Habits

Developing Focus-Building Practices

Improving Performance in the Classroom

Implementing Focus Practices in your Classroom

On Well-being and Self-care


Chat Session

Office hours: Wednesdays at 8:00-9:00 PM CST or by appointment.


There are no prerequisites for this course. The course is open to educators in all fields (the topic is applicable to all educational fields).

Required Text(s)

No required textbook. All instructional materials will be provided by the instructor.

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).


headshot of Mariana Gariazzo

Mariana Gariazzo

Applied Flute

Dr. Mariana Gariazzo received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Music in flute performance from Yale University. She has been a recipient of several awards and distinctions in solo and chamber music categories including Fundacion Antorchas, Juventudes Musicales, UNC Orchestra competition, and the Robert Wilson Award for Outstanding Woodwind Performance at Yale. She has been awarded multiple grants including the Innovative Pedagogy Grant, the Arts Enhancement Grant, the Academic Innovation Grant, the High Impact Innovation Practices, and the Advance Climate Together Grant at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Gariazzo’s research focuses on new music by Latin American composers and has served as a guest artist and speaker on the subject at prominent venues and conferences in Europe, Asia, Latin and North America. In solo and orchestral settings, she has performed with such ensembles as the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Oak Ridge Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra at Yale, New Music New Haven, Neither Music, the National Youth Orchestra of Peru, the Academic Orchestra at Colon Theater, the National University of Cuyo Symphony Orchestra, and the National Orchestra of Argentina. She has been invited to present and perform at multiple National Flute Association Conventions, the Texas Music Association Conference, the Puerto Rico Flute Symposium (Puerto Rico), World Flutes Festival (Argentina), the International Low Flutes Festival (USA, Japan), the International Flute Festival of Lima (Peru) and university campuses across the USA.

Gariazzo serves as President of the Chicago Flute Club and chairs the National Flute Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She actively collaborates with composers in commissioning, recording and performing new music for flutes. Her debut CD, Revelations, will be released by MSR Classic Records in 2021.

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Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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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