The UNCG School of Music is thrilled to announce the Finding Our Way Forward: Conversations in Music Education, a free, virtual program with dates spanning the Spring 2021 semester. Each hour-long session will feature advice for music educators from masters in the field, along with a moderated question-and-answer portion. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear the wisdom of experts in music education from the comfort of your home; you won’t want to miss it!

Participation is free of charge, but advance registration is required.



Music Educators Are Life Changers
While teaching great music to our students is what we are trained to do, it is the changing of lives that is the most rewarding. As music educators we must know our stuff and we must know every student in our classes and what is needed for each student to succeed in life.


Conductor, Detroit Community Concert Band
CEO, Crescendo Detroit
Wayne State University

Prof. Damien Crutcher is a native Detroiter and a graduate of Cass Technical High School. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Michigan State University, and a Master’s in Conducting from the University of Michigan. Damien studied horn with Bryan Kennedy and Doug Campbell and Conducting with H. Robert Reynolds.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Damien served as Director of Bands and Orchestra at Southfield-Lathrup High School. Under his direction the Southfield-Lathrup ensembles, including the Lathrup Symphony Band have performed in San Francisco, Chicago, the Bahamas, the White House and Carnegie Hall. Many of his students from Southfield Lathrup are currently professional musicians, music teachers and artists across the country.

He is currently the co founder and CEO of Crescendo Detroit. Crescendo Detroit is a nonprofit who’s mission is to transform the lives of school age children, ages 5-18, in Detroit, by engaging kids in intense instrumental music, vocal music and dance programs that promote artistic excellence and character building. It is the goal of Crescendo Detroit to create a neighborhood to college pipeline using the arts.

Damien is a frequent guest conductor and clinician throughout Michigan and Ohio and also serves as the conductor of the Farmington Community Band and the DSO’s Dettoit Community Concert Band.


Motivating Your Orchestra Students During the Pandemic
How teachers can apply self-regulated learning and motivation techniques to keep their students continuing to practice and grow musically while school remains partially or fully online.


Professor and Chair of Music Education
University of Michigan

Michael Hopkins is associate professor and chair of Music Education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he teaches courses in string techniques, orchestra methods, research methods, and the psychology of music. He has been a guest conductor at over 100 orchestra festivals and clinics throughout the United States, and has given over 60 presentations at national, international, and state music education conferences on various topics in string education and music technology. He is very active as a composer and arranger, and has composed and arranged over 70 published works for orchestra. His music is published by Alfred Music Publishing, Grand Mesa Music, Kendor Music Publishing, Inc., and J.W. Pepper’s MyScore. His works have been commissioned by many schools and ensembles throughout the U.S.

He is the author of The Art of String Teaching, a comprehensive string pedagogy resource for pre-service teachers, professional orchestra conductors, teachers of group string classes, and private studio teachers. The Art of String Teaching has a complementary YouTube channel, a pedagogical resource with over 100 videos demonstrating all aspects of string technique.

Hopkins has published articles in the Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music EducationCRME BulletinMusic Education ResearchJournal of Music, Technology and Education, American String Teacher, String Research Journalthe Music Educators’ Journal, and The Instrumentalist.

Hopkins is the director of the Michigan String Educators Workshop and the U-M Bass Bash Festival. He serves on the board of the Michigan Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), and has served on several national committees, including the Collegiate Committee and the Research Committee.


Off the Beaten Path: Inclusive Programming for Orchestras
A presentation and discussion of repertoire outside the traditional European canon by women and composers of color that Dr. Jones has found to be accessible for universities, community orchestras, youth orchestras and/or strong high school ensembles.


Visiting Emeritus Professor
Interim Director of Orchestral Studies

University of Iowa

William LaRue Jones is “one of the most active and versatile symphonic conductors in America today, possessing a unique ability to work effectively with musicians at all levels of performing capability and experience” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).  His conducting schedule includes a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony, and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland) to the Orquestra Sinfonia do Theatro da Paz (Belem, Brazil). He returns annually to China to conduct orchestras and present conducting master classes. Recent engagements include conducting orchestras in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xi’an, Nanning, Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin, Nanchang, Sichuan, and Hong Kong. Other orchestras in Asia include Singapore, and in the Malaysian cities Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kedah, and Penang. In addition, Jones has conducted over 100 all-state orchestras with additional festivals and clinics in each of the 50 United States and each Canadian province.

As a professional performer, noted for his outstanding technique and musicality, Jones was principal bassoon of the Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Ballet, and was first call associate with the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for over 15 seasons. He has performed under such esteemed maestros as Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Klaus Tennstedt, Antol Dorati, Charles Dutoit, Aaron Copland, Zubin Mehta, Neville Marriner, Edo deWaart, Daniel Barenboim, and Leonard Slatkin, to name a few.

Since 1997, Dr. Jones has been professor of music, director of orchestral studies and conductor of orchestras and opera at the University of Iowa (Iowa City). In 2008/9, the State of Iowa and the University of Iowa selected Dr. Jones for the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. He was also appointed an Obermann Scholar and a Stanley International Fellow in 2008. In 2011, he received the designation of Collegiate Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Jones is currently music director/conductor of the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. He has previously held the position of music director/conductor of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington (MN) Symphony Orchestra. He holds the titles of founder and conductor laureate of Greater Twin Cities’ Youth Symphonies (MN) and conductor emeritus of the 3M Symphony.

For his untiring work on behalf of music and arts education, he has been honored with the 2013 “Medal of Honor” presented by the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic (Chicago). In addition, he has received the American String Teachers Associations Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award, the David W. Preuss Leadership Award, the Sigma Alpha Iota Musician of the Year Award, WCCO Radio “Good Neighbor Award” and the State of Minnesota Governors’ Proclamation of “Dr. William LaRue Jones Week”.

Recognition of Jones’ outstanding gestural skills and score analysis has made him a sought-after teacher of conducting.  He is the founding artistic director of the critically acclaimed Conductors Workshop of America and was the lead member of the conducting faculty of the International Workshops where he also served as conductor of the International String Orchestra. Jones has also presented conducting seminars/workshops internationally for professional/educational associations in Japan, Norway, Australia, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Malaysia, Switzerland, France, Brazil, and China.

In 1972, Dr. Jones founded the Greater Twin Cities’ Youth Symphonies (MN) which he guided to international acclaim during a 25-year tenure. The program became a model for youth orchestra structures worldwide, comprised of eight full orchestras involving over 1000 students annually.

A Texas native, Dr. Jones holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and Kansas State University, with additional studies at The Juilliard School of Music and the University of North Texas.


Thoughts on Becoming a More Musical and Effective Conductor/Teacher
Ideas for improving musicianship, rehearsal effectiveness, repertoire planning, conducting skills, and other various aspects.



Principal Conductor, Wind Ensemble
University of Southern California Thornton School of Music

H. Robert Reynolds is the Principal Conductor of the Wind Ensemble at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California where he holds the H. Robert Reynolds Professorship in Wind Conducting. This appointment followed his retirement, after 26 years, from the School of Music of the University of Michigan where he served as the Henry F. Thurnau Professor of Music, Director of University Bands and Director of the Division of Instrumental Studies. In addition to these responsibilities, he has also been, for over 35 years, the conductor of The Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, which is made up primarily of members from the Detroit Symphony.

Robert Reynolds has conducted recordings for Koch International, Pro Arte, Caprice, and Deutsche Grammophon. In the United States, he has conducted at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center (New York), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Kennedy Center (Washington, D. C.), Powell Symphony Hall (St. Louis), Academy of Music (Philadelphia), Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), and Tanglewood. In Europe, he conducted the premiere of an opera for La Scala Opera (Milan, Italy), and concerts at the prestigious Maggio Musicale (Florence, Italy), the Tonhalle and the Lucerne Festival Hall in Zurich and Lucerne, Switzerland, and at the Holland Festival in the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), as well as the 750th Anniversary of the City of Berlin. He has won the praise of composers: Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Henryk Gorecki, Karel Husa, Gyorgy Ligeti, Darius Milhaud, Bernard Rands, Gunther Schuller, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others for his interpretive conducting of their compositions.

In 2019, Robert Reynolds was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, and he has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Duquesne University. In addition, he holds degrees in Music Education and Performance from the University of Michigan where he was the conducting student of Elizabeth Green. He began his career in the public schools of Michigan and California before beginning his university conducting at California State University at Long Beach and the University of Wisconsin prior to his tenure at the University of Michigan. He received the Citation of Merit from the Music Alumni Association of the University of Michigan for his contributions to the many students he has influenced during his career and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Band Alumni Association. He is also an Honorary Life Member of the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association.

Professor Reynolds is Past President of the College Band Directors’ Association, and he is the very first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from that organization. He is also Past President of the Big Ten Band Directors’ Association. He has received the highest national awards from Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Beta Mu, the National Band Association, and the American School Band Directors’ Association, and he was awarded the “Medal of Honor” by the International Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic. He is the recipient of a “Special Tribute” from the State of Michigan, and he was a member of the National Awards Panel for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for over 10 years and in 2001 received a national award from this organization for his contributions to contemporary American music. He is also listed in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and his frequent conducting appearances have included the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, Northwestern University, Manhattan School of Music, as well as the Wind Ensemble at the Tanglewood Institute.

Robert Reynolds has been a featured conductor and lecturer at international conferences in Austria, Australia, Norway, Belgium, England, Holland, Slovenia, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. He has conducted in many of the major cities of Japan, Spain, and Sweden including concerts with the Stockholm Wind Orchestra, the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra and professional wind ensembles in Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain. Many of his former students now hold major conducting positions at leading conservatories and universities, and several have been National Presidents of CBDNA.


Now What? Embracing a ‘New Normal’
A conversation and brainstorming session with practical tips, opportunities and ideas on ways to re-invigorate our curriculums, rehearsals, and performances. Are there takeaways that you would like to hang onto as we move forward next Fall?


Professor of Conducting and Director of Bands
Texas Tech University

Dr. Sarah McKoin is the Director of Bands and Professor of Conducting at Texas Tech University.  Her responsibilities include Conductor and Musical Director of the TTU Symphonic Wind Ensemble, administrating the graduate program in wind conducting, teaching conducting and wind literature, and overseeing all facets of the University band program, which includes 5 concert bands, the 400 member Goin’ Band from Raiderland, and other athletic bands.

Under Dr. McKoin’s direction, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform for the third time at the 2017 Texas Music Educators Association Conference, and has been featured at the Southwest Regional Conference for the College Band Director’s National Association in Las Cruces, NM.  Dr. McKoin’s ensemble has recorded world premiere recordings of the wind music of Chen Yi on the Naxos label released in 2015, as well as Narong Prangcharoen’s work Chakra on his compilation CD entitled “Phenomenon,” released on the Albany label.

Dr. McKoin maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician and has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Recently, she served as a clinician for a band festival in Thailand, and has worked for the Asian Pacific American School Honor Band in Guangzhou, China comprised of 100 students from Korea, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Kuala Lampur, Shanghai and other Southeast Asian cities.  She has guest conducted in Taipei, Taiwan and has traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to serve as producer for the world premiere recording of Roberto Sierra’s Fantasia Correliana with the Castellani-Andriaccio guitar duo.

Prior to her appointment at Texas Tech, Professor McKoin was the Director of Bands at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and held appointments at the State University of New York at Buffalo and SUNY Fredonia. Additionally, McKoin spent nine summers in residence on the conducting faculty at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, North Carolina as the Director of the Transylvania Wind Ensemble, and has taught at the Interlochen Arts Academy.

Dr. McKoin holds her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin as well as degrees from Wichita State University and Michigan State University. She has served as President of the Southwest Division of the College Band Director’s National Association as well as President of the Big 12 Band Director’s Association.  She is a member of TMEA, TBA, Phi Beta Mu, Pi Kappa Lambda and holds honorary memberships in Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.