Singing Superintendents Bring Nashville Sound to Conference

 Singing Supes 2
by Katie Regan

When AASA’s Singing Superintendents take the stage during the final morning of AASA’s 2014 National Conference on Education in Nashville, attendees will get a send-off worthy of Music City.

“We want to put on a fun, uplifting show,” said group leader David Cox. The Singing Superintendents “love music. Many us were band and music teachers. We know the importance of the arts, and we just want to put on a show that’s great for a setting like Nashville.”

The approximately 30-member group will honor the conference’s host city with hits by country music star Garth Brooks and a medley of American folk songs, among other choices, on Saturday morning, Feb. 15, during the final general session.

Led for the second year by Cox, superintendent in the Allegany County School District in Cumberland, Md., the group will put on the 20-minute performance after only three on-site rehearsals.

“It’s amazing that these folks will give up valuable conference time to practice for this,” Cox said. “And amazing that we perform without a lot of rehearsal time. But it all comes together and it will be a great time.”

Cox, who has performed with the Singing Superintendents on and off for more than a decade, took over leadership of the group last year from AASA past-president Benny Gooden. But managing the group has been no tough task for Cox. As a former band and choral music teacher, a church music director and a music major in college, Cox was a natural choice to lead the Singing Superintendents.

Group members and conference attendees are looking forward to the performance, which is always a highlight of the conference, especially since budget constraints recently forced the 50-year-old group to take a two-year hiatus. Last year’s performance in Los Angeles was the first since 2010.

But for Cox, the opportunity to sing at his professional association’s major national conference is more than just a good time – it’s a chance to remind attendees of the importance of an arts education, especially during a time when most administrators around the country are turning their attention to the Common Core Standards.

“Music is such a connection to every subject area, and the arts will play a huge role as we transition to a framework that emphasizes not just acquiring content but being able to pull pieces together and make sense of it,” Cox said. “Music and the arts will provide those hooks for deeper understanding. The brain is an amazing thing. When you pair music with content learning, it helps kids in their ability to process info and make sense of everything. And that’s one of the reasons we do this – to underscore how enormously important a music education is for our kids.”

(Katie Regan is editorial assistant for AASA’s School Administrator magazine.)