Music of all kinds rings through downtown

January 14, 2018 GMT

It was all about sound Saturday in downtown Fort Wayne as performers, music teachers and students wrapped up a two-day conference.

The Indiana Music Education Association Professional Development Conference first came to the city in 2011. Since then, the annual event has grown into a showcase of musical performances and learning opportunities for students and their teachers.

The conference draws thousands from around the state, organizers say. It includes classes and concerts from groups such as the Indiana Wesleyan Orchestra.

At Grand Wayne Center, the sound of people testing brass instruments could be heard inside conference rooms as participants took their seats for classes.


Ben Colton, 14, dressed in a black suit with a black tie, had just returned from a performance Saturday morning. A trumpet player from Carmel, Ben said the quality of musicians at the conference was amazing.

“Here, it’s a bunch of good people,” he said.

Booths with displays about college music programs and instruments were set up in conference rooms. Musicians also performed at Embassy Theatre, First Presbyterian Church and the Allen County Public Library.

Lane Velayo, executive director of the music educators association, said the conference has returned to the city each year in part because of those venues. He lauded sponsors including Sweetwater, IPFW and others.

“Fort Wayne’s really done a great job in rolling out the red carpet,” he said.

Velayo said the conference features dozens of performances by thousands of students in middle and high school and college.

“We have the opportunity to enhance the classroom experience for thousands of learners throughout the state,” he said.

That’s exactly why Vivian Szymkow, 19, Madison Simpkins, 18, and Madison McClintick, 19, attended the conference. All University of Indianapolis freshmen, the three attended classes on how to get started in the music industry.

“It’s our first time here,” McClintick said, “It’s been a really great time learning how this works.”

Mark Stachofsky was also at the conference to help ensure students learn more about music and the music industry.

The IPFW voice professor manned a booth for the college, touting a recent announcement of its partnership with Sweetwater Sound.

The soon-to-be Purdue Fort Wayne music technology program will be housed on the Sweetwater campus, officials said this week.

“We’re just getting all the information out : as much information as we can,” Stachofsky said. “Our affiliation with Sweetwater is huge. It’ll definitely bring students in.”