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All of the courses offered by the Drake University Summer Music Institute will help you to reconnect with the reasons you became a music teacher. The courses offer a great deal of guided practice and practical strategies for teaching more effectively, making teaching a deeply satisfying daily experience. We hope you’ll take advantage of one or more of our 2017 offerings to enhance your skills, creativity, and joy in being a music educator.

You can register online from March 13 through May 15.  
Teachers may register from May 15 until June 9 by paying a late fee of $100.

On campus housing is available. See online registration link for details.

Eventbrite - Summer Music Institute 2017

All Summer Music Institute courses offer rigorous professional development for music educators and focus on teacher strategies that can develop students’ twenty-first century skills.

Questions? Contact Dr. Aimee Beckmann-Collier at or 515-271-2841

 Step-by-Step Inspiration with Choral Songs and Bel Canto Solfeggio

  • designed for elementary, middle school/junior high, and high school vocal music educators (but note that a number of instrumental teachers have taken John’s Bel Canto Solfeggio courses and a testimony of its usefulness by one of them appears below)

Clinician: John Armstrong
June 26-29
Course fee is $325

Teachers may earn 2 EDMA credits (additional $110 per graduate credit hour fee through Drake University) OR staff development credit (additional $35 per credit hour fee through Heartland AEA).

Class meets 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

This is a patient, sequenced course, developed from our highly successful "Step-By-Step Bel Canto Solfeggio" class, that will help you practice integrating the three-step process and lead your choral singers from "basic reading skills" to singing actual songs and choral literature beautifully. This class format has been developed in response to requests from music educators who work with singers and music reading every day. We will implement the Cooperative Learning model so you will be an active participant in the process.

In our Step-by-Step Inspiration with Choral Songs and Bel Canto Solfeggio course, we integrate tone, intonation, line, and phrasing with every syllable and handsign gesture. Our extensive list of warm-ups develop choral blend as well as singer independence. We weave melodies together in patterns, rounds, songs, and choral studies, all of which connect directly with quality song and choral literature. Readers, Round Readers, and Song Readers unfold sequentially from simple to complex structures that guarantee success and enthusiasm for singers at each level and voicing. Rather than isolate music reading, our goal is to relate fundamental skills with the craft of beautiful singing.

Directors practice each new skill, then teach that skill in small groups using a Cooperative Learning model. Directors “learn by doing” with our three-step process. Our pace is determined by your success and the atmosphere is supportive and collegial. Following are comments from last summer’s participants:

Jorie O’Leary: “I have been implementing your solfege techniques in my classroom since Day One this year, and it is going very well! The students are very responsive and eager for the challenges. Thank you for helping me be a more confident solfege user — I’m a believer!”

Jenn Nelson: “Before, I often found myself falling into the trap of using only a certain portion of the rehearsal for literacy skills…I wasn’t doing a good enough job of making the connection for my students from our literacy/theory work to our repertoire…Now, I am building in literacy skills throughout the rehearsal.”

Jaydeane Berns: “Thank you for your time and patience in class as I began to learn this new skill. This has truly been one of the most significantly useful classes that I have taken throughout my career. I have decided to use the Bel Canto Solfeggio approach as my personal professional development adventure as I strive to take my instructional skills to the next level.”

Graciela Burroughs: “I have chosen to document how I am and will continue to incorporate the techniques I have learned in ‘Beyond Survival’ as a string teacher…I have already had great success with using the Pulse Chart with my students. I recognized the potential of this activity right away, and used it on the first day of class…before using instruments!”

  • Directors immediately practice-teach each fundamental hand-sign solfeggio skill in small groups as soon as that skill is introduced "in the air," beginning with the diatonic scale.
  • Directors learn how to read pitch and pulse charts "on the board," then experiment with leading those activities right away.
  • Directors approach each reader, round reader, and song reader as a singer, then work in small groups to practice leading those activities "from the page."
  • The class reads carefully composed songs with song readers as well as choral works that are proven "sure-fine winners" recommended by music educators who have taken Bel Canto Solfeggio Music Literacy-based courses previously. Model lesson plans will be provided subject to refinement by the class.
  • We analyze each piece in detail and discuss viable approaches to the challenges inherent in the work. Directors practice incorporating the process in a collaborative environment, working from a model plan, yet refining the plan to fit individual teaching styles.
  • The Cooperative Learning model provides opportunities to exchange ideas and experiment with various applications of the process.
  • The Reading Choir Singer is the required text for this course (see online registration form). Songs and choral works will be provided by John Armstrong and JW Pepper.

 Kodaly Certification, Levels I, II, and III

  • designed for general music teachers, but open to any music educators

Clinicians: Barbara and Tom Sletto, Kris VerSteeg, Sandy Miller
July 10-21 (weekdays)
Course fee is $650

Teachers may earn 3 EDMA credits (additional $110 per graduate credit hour fee through Drake University) OR staff development credit (additional $35 per credit hour fee through Heartland AEA).

Class meets weekdays 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Level I is a prerequisite for Level II; Levels I and II are prerequisites for Level III. Registrants for Levels II and III must present documentation from the previous level(s) at check-in on the first day of class. Course is
approved by the Organization of American Kodaly Educators.

Curriculum includes:

  • three levels of solfege
  • pedagogy techniques
  • choral conducting and ensembles
  • materials and folksong analysis

Special topics include:

  • older beginners
  • Kodaly and Orff
  • recorders in the classroom

Questions? Contact Dr. Aimee Beckmann-Collier at or 515-271-2841

Fine Arts Events
no events have been scheduled
Fine Arts News
February 15, 2018
Drake University Theatre’s upcoming repertory showcase features two full-length, mainstage productions that vary significantly in style and message. The shows run Feb. 22-25.