Learning to share musical talent

Amber Speer, Staff Writer

The Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) has handpicked students from across the state, including students from East, who display potential in a number of different musical categories to attend a special event.

Several students from Plainfield East were chosen to attend the ILMEA classes at Peoria from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1. This is the third consecutive year in which students and faculty of Plainfield East attended ILMEA.

To enter the contest, students composed their own music, played an instrument, sang, or sent in recordings of themselves explaining why they wanted to be a future music educator.

Rachel Pusateri, a senior in choir, was chosen for the FMES, Future Music Educators Association, part of ILMEA. She submitted a video answering three questions about why she was passionate about becoming a music educator. There were 55 students in Illinois chosen for FMES.

“You can experience a day in the life as a music teacher,” Pusateri said.

“It’s a place where you get to experience what it would be like to be a music teacher and kind of hear from other music teachers on their experiences.”

While at ILMEA, students learn about music in different ways. For three days, students attend conferences and practice performing their music with like-minded individuals.

While future music educators sit in and critique others, students selected for band or choir learn to perform a new song together in their limited amount of time.

Among other categories in ILMEA, there is the composition section.

Jackson Eason, a junior, was selected for an electronic piece that he wrote and produced on his own. His piece fell into the electronic/pop category.

Eason said he had just been looking for professional feedback when he submitted his piece and was lucky enough to place in the competition. 

“At first, when I was making this song, I had no intention of submitting it to ILMEA. I just was wanting to make music because that’s what I wanted to do,” Eason said.

“After I mixed it and mastered it, I was extremely proud of it. I showed [choir teacher Elaine Bennington], and she thought it was really good. She thought I should submit it to ILMEA,” Eason said.

Bennington teaches different choirs along with music production. She, along with the three additional East teachers, attended the event.

Bennington said she is very excited for her students who placed. 

“I love our program. But to see them start becoming musicians and educators and producers beyond high school and to help them see that future for music beyond, I think that’s what I get most excited for,” Bennington said.

The teachers who attended ILMEA had a special treat of their own. While their students learned more about music production and education, the teachers attended the Illinois Music Educators Conference in the same building. 

Band director Justin Koszarek presented at the event [see sidebar story].

Students and teachers said they were excited to participate in conferences where everyone will be just as enthused about music as they are.