6067 Orchestra Curriculum & Design: If Your Build It, They Will Play and Learn!

One of the many joys of being a music teacher lies in the ability to structure curriculum and instruction based on student and community needs. Join master teachers Georgia Ekonomou and Denise Odegaard as they offer invaluable insight into building a successful multi-level and multi-layered orchestra program. This course features hands-on experiences creating student-centered activities that build on the collective knowledge of pedagogues, composers and master teachers.


Instructors: Georgia Ekonomou & Denese Odegaard


Described by her colleagues as a musician who will energize an ensemble like no other conductor, Georgia brings excitement and love for music from the podium that is truly amazing. The results of her work can be seen in the students she teaches; she encourages them not only to become better musicians, but better people as well.

Mrs. Ekonomou has been a String Educator/Conductor for 38 years. Presently, she is on the Orchestra faculty at The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, Georgia). She is the former Director of Orchestras at The Paideia School (Atlanta, Georgia), where she conducted The Paideia Chamber Orchestra and The Paideia Junior Chamber Orchestra. Her teaching career began in the Fulton County Schools (Atlanta, Georgia).  In 1980, Georgia became the Director of Orchestras at The Lovett School (Atlanta, Georgia).  While at Lovett, The Lovett Chamber Orchestra performed at the 1990 MENC National Conference in Washington, DC; the 1997 GMEA Conference (Georgia Music Educators Association) in Savannah, Georgia; and at the 1997 IAJE Conference (International Association of Jazz Educator’s) in Atlanta, Georgia. 

In 1991, she was awarded The Lovett Schools “Woodward Award” for excellence in teaching. Her groups consistently received Superior ratings at State and National competitions. In January 2017, Ekonomou was awarded the “Georgia/ASTA Lifetime Achievement Award”, in honor and recognition of her contribution to Musical Excellence in the state of Georgia.

Ekonomou has served as assistant conductor for the “Georgia Tech Orchestra”, the “Atlanta Emory Orchestra” and the “Georgia University Orchestra” (the combined orchestras of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University).  During the summers of 2014 and 2016, she conducted the Intermediate Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Summer Music Festival.

Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern University. At Northwestern, she studied Violin with Samuel Magad (concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony), and performed in the Northwestern Chorus with Margaret Hillis (conductor/founder of the Chicago Symphony Chorus). Following Northwestern, she received a Master of Music Education from Georgia State University.

A violinist, she performs with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and has performed with the Woman’s Jazz Orchestra of Los Angeles, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, the Emory Chamber Players and other ensembles throughout the US and Europe.

Mrs. Ekonomou is a member of GMEA, ASTA, and NAfME and has served on the advisory committee for the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and on the national Membership committee for ASTA.  She is active throughout the United States as Conductor, Clinician and Adjudicator.  In July 2016, she was appointed Southern Division Representative to the NAfME Council for Orchestral Education.


Denese Odegaard, NAfME President (2016-2018), is currently the Fargo (North Dakota) Public Schools Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist, and has taught orchestra for 35 years.  National service includes board member for both the American String Teachers Association Board (ASTA) and the National Association for Music Education Board (NAfME). While on the ASTA Board, she was chair of the Committee on School Orchestra and Strings and received the ASTA Citation for Leadership twice.  

Her involvement in NAfME includes serving as North Central President and Research Advisor for the 3-5 grade standards writing team.  She was Executive Director of the North Dakota Music Educators Association for ten years. 

Odegaard authored Curriculum Writing 101: Assistance with Standards-based Music Curriculum and Assessment Writing for Band, Choir, Orchestra and General Music (GIA), co-authored the ASTA Curriculum (Alfred), and has contributed to several GIA, NAfME and Corwin publications.  

She has presented curriculum and assessment sessions at international, national, and state conferences including Midwest, ASTA, TMEA, TODA, AMLE,  and three Symposiums on Assessment in Music Education. Odegaard has been trained in mentoring through the New Teacher Center (CA), instructional coaching through NSDC, mentoring with the New Teacher Center (CA), Backwards Design with Jay McTighe, Curriculum Mapping with Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning with Jan Chappuis.




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Course Information

6067 Orchestra Curriculum and Design: If You Build It, They Will Play and Learn!

Dates: July 17-21
Graduate Credits: 3
Tuition: $990 due in full with registration
Location: VCM - TBD
Hours: Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Register online by Friday, April 14, and save $50 per class!
Register online by Friday, May 19, and save $25 per class!
Only registrations received and paid in full by 12:00 noon CDT on the dates above (April 10 for $50, May 15 for $25)  are eligible for the discounts. Balances paid after initial registration do not qualify.

VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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