TRAVERSE CITY — Wendee Wolf-Schlarf wants her students to be musicians for life.
The Traverse City West Senior High School music teacher and district leader for the performing arts will be one of several people representing Traverse City Area Public Schools this weekend at the annual Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids.
Nine students from West Senior High School, Central High School and West Middle School were named to all-state bands and choirs. Three choirs have been selected to perform, and three educators will present educational sessions during the three-day event. More than 9,000 teachers, administrators, students and speakers are expected to attend.
Wolf-Schlarf said the event is about bringing student-musicians together to "work with highly skilled and respected conductors from around the United States and Michigan."
"There's two elements to the conference," she said. "One is it's an in-service for music educators to come and learn new techniques, to brush up on their skills and what they can do in the classroom. The other is to be inspired by performances."
Being selected to participate only comes after a rigorous and competitive selection process, Wolf-Schlarf said.
West Senior High students Ian Beck, Concetta Brehmer and Robert O'Brien will perform with the high school all-state band. Central students Jack Kernan, Noah Manning, Henry Parvel and Caleb Smith will sing in the jazz honors choir. West Middle students Drew Alexander and Sam Hicks will take part in the middle school all-state band. Two choirs from West Senior High and the West Middle choir, the only middle school choir selected, will also perform.
"Our students love music and are passionate about music," Wolf-Schlarf said. "To be able to come and experience this and be pushed at an even more intense and higher level, it feeds something in them — it allows them to grow and maybe accomplish things they didn't think they were capable of or they had never thought about doing before."
The experience, Wolf-Schlarf hopes, will only serve to inspire the students chosen to attend.
"That is infectious with everybody else in their ensembles back home," she said. "Once they get here, they get to experience new teaching methods or new conducting methods. It makes it exciting for them. It reaffirms their passion, but I also think it makes them love it even more."
TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma will also be honored at the conference. The Michigan Music Education Association named him as administrator of the year.
“The reality is I am fortunate to work for a school system that places a high value on music instruction, has incredibly talented staff and intentionally works to vertically align the curriculum K-12," Soma said. "As a result, our students are recognized as the best of the best. It is easy to be a champion for that.”