After Hours: Conversations for Music Educators is a music education podcast from Amro Music Stores, Inc. Our After Hours podcast host, Nick Averwater, facilitates engaging conversations each week with band directors, private music teachers, general music educators, orchestra directors, and other music industry professionals just like you. Each podcast guest shares practical advice on things like classroom management in your band program, placing beginners on instruments, band and orchestra recruitment strategies, band boosters, fundraising, and more.
The goal of After Hours is to provide a podcast for band directors, orchestra directors, and music educators with strategies for both "on-podium" and “off-podium” skills that can help create a school music program that you can be proud of. If you can't find what you're looking for in our current episodes, we'd love to hear from you! Send us an email with questions or topics you'd like to see addressed in the podcast.
Did you know we were recently featured in the Top 25 Music Education Podcasts by Feedspot? Check out the article here.
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In this episode, Nick Averwater talks with Mikaela Littleton, Director of Bands at Mill Creek Middle School in Nolensville, TN. It's part of the Williamson County School System, which is just south of Nashville. This week we'll learn more about Mikaela's early influences that encouraged her to become a music educator, some of the lessons she has learned as she begins her fourth year of teaching, and more. Our conversation was recorded July 29, 2022. It's broken up in to two episodes and this is part one.
Mikaela Littleton is the Director of Bands at Mill Creek Middle School in Nolensville, TN. Prior to her position at Mill Creek, Mrs. Littleton served as the assistant director of bands at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, TN. Littleton received her Bachelor of Music Education from MTSU in 2019, graduating summa cum laude.
Under her leadership, the Mill Creek bands flourished through the COVID shutdown and virtual school. In her three years as director of bands, the band’s enrollment has increased 66%, with beginner enrollment increasing 105%. Littleton established the first auditioned Wind Ensemble at the school and all ensembles consistently receive superior rating at concert performance assessment. Littleton enjoys working with the Nolensville Band and assisting with their after-school endeavors, including football games, parades, and performances at Nissan Stadium for the Tennessee Titans.
Mrs. Littleton resides in Murfreesboro with her husband Caleb.
In this episode, Nick Averwater continues his conversation with Benjamin Easley, Director of Bands at Nolensville High School in Nolensville, TN. We'll learn more about Benjamin's approach to maintaining high retention rates in the band program at Nolensville, how his approach to teaching has changed as a result of Covid, and more. Our conversation was recorded July 1, 2022. It's broken up in to two episodes and this is part two.
Benjamin Easley currently serves as Director of Bands at Nolensville High School, the newest Williamson County Schools high school which opened its doors August 2016. Prior to opening NHS, Mr. Easley began his Tennessee teaching career at John Overton High School, where the marching band membership increased by 58% during his tenure. Mr. Easley previously served as Associate Band Director at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, where his ensembles achieved the UIL Sweepstakes Award and the Mighty Ram Band performed his original compositions and arrangements as finalists at the 2012 TX UIL 5A State Marching Contest and multiple Bands of America Regional Championships.
Under his leadership, Nolensville Band membership has increased by 450% since its beginnings in 2016. In addition to consistently earning unanimous superior ratings at Concert Performance Assessment, Nolensville Band performances include appearances at the 49th Annual GMA Dove Awards, ABC World News Tonight With David Muir, Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Nissan Stadium for the Tennessee Titans, and an upcoming performance at the 64th Annual Tennessee Music Education Association Professional Development Conference.
A four-time CMA Music Teachers of Excellence recipient and 2018-2019 Nolensville HS Teacher of the Year, Mr. Easley graduated summa cum laude with a B.M. in Trombone Performance, M.M. in Instrumental Conducting, M.M. in Music Education, and M.M. in Music Theory Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Active as a regional adjudicator and freelance composer and arranger, Mr. Easley designs and arranges for high school marching band programs throughout the Southeast. He currently resides in Nolensville with his wife, Sarah, and their daughters, Ella (8) and Harper (5).
In this conversation, Benjamin mentions The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.
In this episode of the After Hours Director Spotlight, Nick Averwater talks with Benjamin Easley, Director of Bands at Nolensville High School in Nolensville, TN, a town of around 16,000 located a half hour south of Nashville. Benjamin comes from a family of music educators (his father, John Easley, is featured on After Hours episodes from December 31, 2021 and January 7, 2022), so we'll learn more about his early influences, and also learn more about Nolensville's non-competitive marching band model and how it compares with competitive bands in a part of the country where marching band is such an important part of many communities. Our conversation was recorded July 1, 2022. It's broken up in to two episodes and this is part 1.
In this episode we'll be listening to a webinar hosted by Amro Music on August 6, 2022 looking at how Covid has affected the way students learn, and how educators teach. We were joined by Brittany Jerrell from Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna, Tennessee, Kim Webb from Greene County Tech High School in Paragould, Arkansas, and Ben McLemore from Lewisburg Middle School in Hernando, Mississippi. The discussion was moderated by Nick Averwater.
Originally from Hendersonville, TN, Brittany Jerrell is starting her 3rd year of teaching at Stewarts Creek Middle School. Prior to Stewarts Creek, Mrs. Jerrell held a middle school & high school band position in Macon County, TN. Mrs. Jerrell earned a Bachelors Degree of Music Education from Middle Tennessee State University, where she graduated magna cum laude. During her time at MTSU, she served on the executive board of the School of Music Student Advisory Council (SOMSAC), was a section leader in the Band of Blue & Symphonic Band, was a student conductor for the MTSU Trumpet Ensemble, and served as librarian for the MTSU Band of Blue. In addition, Mrs. Jerrell was a brass instructor for Coffee County HS and private trumpet instructor. Mrs. Jerrell was awarded the “Joseph T. Smith Award for Music Education” and was recognized for “Outstanding Accomplishments in Instrumental Music Education.” She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society, Middle Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, Tennessee Music Educators Association, and the National Association for Music Education.
Kim is Director of Bands at Greene County Tech School District in Paragould, AR. The GCT Band serves 450 students in the GCTSD as one of the largest organizations on campus. The Eagle band is made up of several ensembles: Marching Eagle Band, High School Concert Band, Jazz Band, Junior High Pep Band, Junior High Concert Band, Intermediate Concert Band, and Beginning Band. Members are offered multiple performance opportunities throughout the year including Football Games, Marching competitions, indoor stage concerts, and concert assessments in performance and sight-reading. Members in GCT Bands are offered various ways to achieve individually in the region and state bands and solo/ensemble competitions. The Marching Eagle band has received numerous first division trophies and currently reigns as the Grand Champion of the Cabot Marching Invitational for the second year in a row. Their concert bands have received consistent Superior Ratings in Concert Performance and Sight-Reading.
The University of Mississippi, Bachelor of Music, 2011
The University of Mississippi, Master of Music, 2013
Mr. McLemore is currently in his 7th year teaching at Lewisburg Middle School. As well as teaching at LMS, Mr. McLemore assists at Lewisburg High School with the Marching Patriot Band as well as the Lewisburg High School Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band.
In this episode, Nick Averwater talks with Mickey Smith Jr., the 2020 recipient of the Grammy Music Educator Award. He is originally from Mossville, LA, a small town in the southwest corner of the state, and currently teaches at The Greene School in West Palm Beach, FL. He also travels extensively as a guest educator and motivational speaker. This conversation was recorded June 30, 2022.
EDUCA-TAINER Mickey Smith Jr. is a GRAMMY Music Educator Award Recipient that hails from a forgotten community in the Bayou State of Louisiana and now stands on phenomenal stages encouraging educators to SEE THE SOUND & KEEP ON GOING. Mickey is an acclaimed international speaker, saxophonist, author, and master development coach for elementary and middle school band directors as well as a self-management-strategist for educators. Mickey is committed to encouraging and equipping all educators with the tools to Discover Their Sound of significance and Keep On Going with resilience to create a SOUND180 days of school. Smith specializes in motivational keynotes and transformative professional development training sessions for both corporate and educational clients who are ready to engage, educate, and elevate every audience member to excellence. Whether the message is being shared in a School District, a Conference, In-Person or Virtually, Smith believes that everyone has a "sound" (a significance) that has the power to resonate with others and create a shift in the thoughts and perspectives of our next and best. Mickey’s motivational mixture of music & message teaches people how to reach people with consistency, intention, and strategy.
As a management-specialist, motivational speaker, expert musician, and experienced educator, I'm dedicated to helping everyone see the "sound" (significance).
--Mickey Smith Jr.
Photo and bio courtesy of mickeysmithjr.com.
In this episode we'll listen to the second half of a panel discussion from Amro Music's Young Directors Bootcamp, which is a chance for band directors who are just starting out to hear from educators who are a few years into their careers. The discussion features Reece Gardner from Arlington Middle School in Arlington, TN, Emma Lang from Trenton Rosenwald Middle School and Peabody High School in Trenton, TN, Nathan Anderson from Green County Tech Middle School in Paragould, Arkansas, and Carlos Serna from Paragould Junior High, and High School, also in Paragould, Arkansas. Nick Averwater is moderator for the discussion. And a quick production note, we did have some questions from the audience, but they were off-mic, so we've edited out most of the actual questions from this recording, but Nick repeats them for the podcast audience and those who were joining us live on Zoom. This conversation was recorded August 6, 2022.
Trenton Rosenwald Middle School
Greene County Tech Middle School
Arlington Middle School
Paragould Jr. High / High School
In this episode we'll listen to the first half of a panel discussion from Amro Music's Young Director's Bootcamp, which is a chance for band directors who are just starting out to hear from educators who are a few years into their careers. Nick Averwater was moderator of the discussion, which was recorded August 6, 2022.
In this episode, Nick Averwater talks with Tyler Swick, a celebrated and award-winning music educator from Robert and Sandy Ellis Elementary School in Las Vegas, whose YouTube channel, Swick's Classroom, has over 14,000 subscribers and has been visited more than 3.5 million times. We thought Tyler's enthusiasm for music education, and his innovative ideas would be just right as a new school year is about to begin. This conversation was recorded on June 27, 2022.
Tyler Swick is a teacher and performer residing in Las Vegas, NV. Swick was recently awarded the Heart of Education Award and is a Yamaha 40 under 40 music educator. His passion for education and all things music can be found on his YouTube Channel, Swick's Classroom. Swick's compositions have been selected for festivals and competitions across the country. Winning 2nd and 3rd place in the 2013 PASIC Composition Contest and selected as the finale to the 2017 Steel Pan New Literature concert.
Photo & Bio credit: tylerswick.com
In this episode Nick Averwater talks with Emily Kelley, Director of Bands at Southview High School in Sylvania, OH, and author of the new book Inclusion in Band and Orchestra, which is part of the Maximizing Student Performance series by the Kjos Music Company. Our conversation was recorded July 20, 2022.
Emily Kelley is the Director of Bands at Sylvania Southview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. Mrs. Kelley received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Bowling Green State University and earned her Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan.
As a child and young adult, Mrs. Kelley had many opportunities to cooperatively engage students with exceptionalities. Her father, Chuck Hage, served as a teacher in a special education self-contained public school classroom for students of varying, developmental delays. Emily enjoyed visiting and working with her dad and his students quite often. Elisa Huss-Hage, Emily’s mother, taught at a community college for many years where she prepared teachers for the field, including courses that focused on meeting the needs of every learner. Additionally, Emily has had several family members with cognitive challenges, including an aunt who lived with her for a significant portion of her childhood. These experiences fostered in her the importance of ensuring equitable educational experiences for all students.
In the process of developing this resource, both Chuck and Elisa, alongside several Sylvania Schools special education professionals and families served as valuable resources and consultants.
During her tenure in public school education, Mrs. Kelley has worked with a plethora of students with many types of exceptionalities. The culmination of those experiences has inspired Emily’s interest in supporting other music educators.
Photo & Bio credit: KJOS Music Company
This week Joel Hurd, one of the producers on the podcast, talks with composer and educator Brady Massey, who spent more than 20 years as a band director in three different school districts in Arkansas (Hoxie, Trumann, and Pocahontas), and is currently Director of Bands at Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Joel talked with Brady just after he had given a talk at Amro University, which is a 2-day event in Memphis for college students and new band directors. Brady's talk was entitled, "Starting The Year On Your Left Foot." Our conversation was recorded April 8, 2022.
Brady Massey (b. 1966) is the Director of Bands at Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Mr. Massey’s background includes teaching all grade levels of instrumental music, from beginning band through university band. His ensembles have received acclaim on the local, regional, and national levels, and are consistently praised on their performances.
Mr. Massey’s professional affiliations include the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association, the National Band Association, the College Band Directors’ National Association, and has served on the board of directors for Dixie Band Camp and Drum Corps South. He is a recent past-president of the Arkansas Bandmasters Association, and has been the recipient of numerous awards in the education field as well as in the music education field.
Mr. Massey is the owner of Ovation by Design, which creates custom music and arrangements for bands and other media, and is the director of the Arkansas Ambassadors of Music, which produces a concert tour of Europe every two years. He resides in Pocahontas, Arkansas with his wife Carol and daughter Makenzie.
Bio credit: C.L. Barnhouse Company | Photo credit: Williams Baptist University
This week Nick Averwater talks with Hunter Durham, Director of Bands in the Rivercrest School District in Wilson, Arkansas, a small town near the Mississippi River around 30 miles north of Memphis. He is originally from nearby Paragould, Arkansas. Hunter has written a guide to sound reinforcement for marching bands. In this episode he'll be sharing his ideas on mic techniques, how to make wise purchasing decisions and more. This conversation was recorded on April 9, 2022.
Director of Bands, Rivercrest School District - Wilson, AR
In the Interview, Hunter references the following:
This week Joel Hurd, one of co-producers of the podcast, talks with Dr. Jennifer Hawkinson, Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Central Arkansas. Before joining UCA, Dr. Hawkinson spent 18 years in South Dakota as a music educator in several school districts, including one of the largest schools in the state, Sioux Falls Washington High School. She joined us at Amro Music as part of Amro University, a two-day gathering of college students and new music educators, where she gave a talk entitled Increasing Retention In Your Music Program. This conversation was recorded April 9, 2022
Jennifer K. Hawkinson is Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Central Arkansas. She holds the Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, as well as degrees from the University of Manitoba (MM, Conducting) and Mount Marty College (BA, Music Education). Dr. Hawkinson previously taught elementary general and instrumental music for 18 years in South Dakota schools from small to large and rural to suburban. She ended her public school career as the Director of Bands at Sioux Falls Washington, one of the largest high schools in the state. She was an adjunct instructor of flute at the University of Sioux Falls and taught students from elementary to adult in her private studio. Dr. Hawkinson enjoys her work as an active guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator with students of all ages.
At UCA, Dr. Hawkinson teaches undergraduate courses in elementary general and instrumental music pedagogy, supervises student internships, instructs graduate courses, and advises graduate student research. She coordinates summer programs in music education for both graduate students and practicing music educators. As a scholar, Dr. Hawkinson’s research interests include student nonparticipation in school music programs through the theoretical lens of constraint negotiation, engaging diverse student populations in school music, virtual music learning spaces, and student-centered pedagogy. She has presented conference and teacher training sessions on the topics of teacher evaluation, assessment in music and other non-tested subjects, fostering creativity in student musicians, and creating comprehensive band programs. Dr. Hawkinson has presented and published as a member of the University of Minnesota doctoral research cohort at the Society of Music Teacher Education conference and in Interval: The Journal of Music Teacher Education.
Dr. Hawkinson’s professional memberships include the National Association for Music Education and Phi Beta Mu. She served two terms as President of the South Dakota Music Educators Association.
Photo & Biography credit: University of Central Arkansas
If you enjoy the content provided through "After Hours", you can support the podcast by purchasing your classroom supplies, books and accessories from Amro Music. We're the greater Memphis area's first choice when it comes to music education materials. Band directors and orchestra instructors know we carry the brands and products they trust to teach the next generation everything they need to know to appreciate music. To place an order or receive a quote, please call or text our Director Services office at 901-302-3315 or email them here.