Best Practices of Effective Conductors

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Best Practices of Effective Conductors

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June 8–July 31, 2020

The habits of effective conductors and teachers include meticulous planning, 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. You will learn to affirm the musical capabilities of your students and motivate them to become independent learners.

Please note: 80% of the content is delivered LIVE during 90-minute Zoom sessions on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. Central Time. Attendance at Zoom sessions is required.


Craig Kirchhoff

Kirchhoff,_Craig_headshot_v2_2013Craig Kirchhoff is professor of conducting at the University of Minnesota. Born and educated in Wisconsin, Kirchhoff brings to his position a wide knowledge of both traditional and contemporary literature. He has won critical acclaim from composers Warren Benson, Henry Brant, Michael Colgrass, Karel Husa, Libby Larsen, George Perle, Vincent Persichetti, Stephen Paulus, Verne Reynolds, Gunther Schuller, Joseph Schwantner, Steven Stucky, Elliott Schwartz, Chen Yi and others. Kirchhoff is past president of the College Band Directors National Association, and is an active member of the American Bandmasters Association, the National Band Association, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and the Music Educators National Conference. He also served as the founding editor and principal advisor of the College Band Directors National Association Journal. Kirchhoff has appeared as guest conductor, clinician and lecturer throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and Scandinavia. He is a frequent guest conductor of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and has recorded with them on the Kosei Publishing label.

Reena Esmail

Esmail,_Reena_headshot_CROPIndian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence. Previously, she was named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the S & R Foundation’s Washington Award.  Esmail was also a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. Esmail holds degrees in composition from the Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music. She was Composer-in-Residence for Street Symphony (2016-18) and is currently an artistic director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting music traditions of India and the West.

Stephen Squires

Squires,_Stephen_headshot_2020_CROPStephen Squires is a musician with a career that blends his passions for conducting, teaching and performing. Squires has had the honor to conduct for many exceptional artists, including Frederica von Stade, Samuel Ramey, János Starker, Pinchas Zuckerman, Shmuel Ashkenasi, John Browning, Leon Bates, Stewart Goodyear, Richard Stoltzman, Ani Kavafian, Wendy Warner, James Tocco, Kevin Cole, Vadim Gluzman, and many principal players of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras. Fully committed to conducting the music of living composers, Squires has premiered over 40 new works.

Squires received his musical training at the Preparatory School of the Eastman School of Music and the Crane School of Music, both in his home state of New York. He earned his master’s degree in instrumental conducting and trumpet performance at California State University, Northridge. He completed further conducting studies with Helmuth Rilling, Maurice Abravanel, Daniel Lewis, Tsung Yeh, and at the Aspen Music Festival. Squires has conducted recordings for the Delos, Spring Hill (a division of EMI), MEDR, Editions de la Rue Margot, and Centaur labels.  His most recent recording (in progress) is for the Albany label, featuring the music of Victoria Bond.

Squires is Professor of Conducting in the Music Conservatory at 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 for 19 years, where he received the prestigious Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Alex Shapiro

Shapiro,_Alex_headshot_CROPComposer Alex Shapiro aligns note after note with the hope that at least a few of them will actually sound good next to each other. Her persistence at this activity, as well as non-fiction music writing, arts advocacy, public speaking, wildlife photography, and the shameless instigation of insufferable puns on Facebook, has led to a happy life. Drawing from a broad musical palette that giddily ignores genre, Shapiro's acoustic and electroacoustic works are published by Activist Music LLC, performed and broadcast daily, and can be found on nearly 30 commercial releases from record labels around the world.

Shapiro was a guest clinician presenting workshops on electroacoustic music and inventive uses of new media at the 2013 Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and the 2014 Texas Music Educators Association in San Antonio, and in July 2016 she was the featured guest composer for the University of British Columbia's Wind Conducting Symposium. Her in-depth articles on the topic were published in the June and September 2014 issues of WASBE World, the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. Shapiro also regularly presents workshops on the topic using vivid multimedia presentations that bring the concepts to life.

William Jastrow

Jastrow,_William_headshot_2020Spanning over 40 years, William Jastrow’s teaching experience ranges from a community high school with an enrollment of 450 students, to Neuqua Valley H.S. with an enrollment exceeding 4,000, to the position of Music Education Coordinator for Indian Prairie School District 204, a unit district comprising 33 schools and 29,500 students.  Teaching and conducting responsibilities at Neuqua Valley included concert bands, jazz ensembles, marching band, and the Klangfarben Percussion Ensembles.  Jastrow holds degrees in music education from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University.
A frequent Illinois All-State and NAfME clinician, as well as a district and all-state festival conductor, Jastrow served the Illinois Music Education Association Board of Directors as Band Division President and State President. As an executive officer Jastrow assumed a leading role in the development of a Leadership Conference for exemplary music educators, a Future Music Educators Symposium for high school students, and an All-State Percussion Ensemble.  As past-president, Jastrow was active in promoting a statewide survey on the status of music education, contributed to the planning of “Dream Out Loud”, a joint advocacy initiative with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Yamaha, and authored numerous articles on the vital role that music should play as part of a comprehensive education for all students.
Over his career, Jastrow’s bands have performed for the University of Illinois Superstate Festival, the NBA National Convention, the West Sussex International Youth Music Festival, and the Liberty, Outback, and Fiesta Bowl festivals and parades, as well as for international audiences in Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and the People’s Republic of China.  During his tenure, Neuqua Valley H.S. was recognized as the Kennedy Center National School of Distinction in Fine Arts Education and was a multiple recipient of the Grammy Signature Gold and National Signature School Award.  A 2011 inductee into the Phi Beta Mu Illinois Bandmasters Hall of Fame, Jastrow is a recipient of the John Paynter Lifetime Achievement Award, Illinois State Board of Education "Those Who Excel" Recognition, ILMEA Distinguished Service Award, and NAfME Excellence in Teaching Music Award.

Charles "Chip" Staley

Staley,_Charles_headshot_2013Charles "Chip" Staley began his teaching career at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, IL. Staley recently retired from public school teaching after 30 years in District 204 in Naperville, where he served as a Fine Arts Chair first at Waubonsie Valley and then at Neuqua Valley High School. Over his career, Staley taught wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra and musical theater orchestra. Under his guidance, the Neuqua Valley Fine Arts Department was awarded the National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Neuqua Valley has been honored by the GRAMMY Foundation seven times with GRAMMY Gold status, and was twice recognized as a GRAMMY National Signature School.

Staley’s bands and orchestras have performed at the Midwest Clinic, Chicago’s Symphony Center, University of Illinois’ Krannert Hall, and at concert venues in China, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Staley is the recipient of the John Paynter Lifetime Achievement Award, the Mary Hoffman Excellence in Teaching Award, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra's Music Inspiration Award, and the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Flag of Honor. Staley is a member of the Illinois Music Educators Association Assessment Committee and is an advisor for the Illinois State Board of Education. Staley is a National Board certified teacher holding degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois. In 2019, Staley received a Doctor of Music Honoris Causa from VanderCook College of Music.

Course Details

Best Practices of
Effective Conductors

Course Code 6090

Craig Kirchhoff, Reena Esmail,
Steve Squires, Alex Shapiro,
Bill Jastrow & Charles Staley

3 Graduate Credits

$1,050, due in full with registration

Online Chat Sessions


Required Text(s)

MECA Online Course Details
VanderCook Online is powered by Schoology ( Through this learning management system, you'll be able to interact directly with your instructor, students in your classes, and members of the greater VanderCook Online community.

Summer 2020 MECA courses officially begin on Monday, June 8. Soon after you register, you'll be added as a new Schoology user. Be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you are given credentials, visit to login. On the morning of June 8, you'll have access to your classroom and course material.

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times while others have a flexible meeting schedule; please check individual course descriptions and details. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If you are unable to attend the scheduled live meeting time, please consult your instructor to make alternative arrangements.

You'll have the opportunity to work at your own pace each week while completing assignments and posting responses to discussion questions. You'll constantly be interacting with your instructor and classmates online, and working through new material each week. We know how crazy school schedules can get, so our instructors try to make everything as flexible as possible!

Transcript requests can be made online using the Transcript Request Form. Any inquiries regarding transcripts should be directed to the Registrar’s Office at 312.788.1151. If you are in need a quick turn around time for your transcript please submit the request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


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