[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at AllCityPhiladelphia.org, February 21st, 2017]
By Dotan Yarden
All City opens the doors to new musicians each year. Most of them are high school freshmen and sophomores, but this year we have a new Concert Band conductor. CAPA senior and All City principle bassoonist, Dotan Yarden, interviewed Dr. Confredo. Here is his report.
Dr. Confredo is the Director of Graduate Programs in Music Education at Temple University’s Boyer School of Music & Dance. No stranger to youth education, she taught music at the elementary and secondary levels before becoming a professor, and she is still an active guest conductor in honors festivals across the nation.
Parents Make a Difference
Dr. Confredo was lucky enough to grow up in a household buzzing with music, where her parents encouraged her to start piano in second grade. “When I was in junior high school,” she reminisced, “a bunch of friends and I went to a high school football game. I was mesmerized by the sound of the marching band.” She sought out the junior high band director after that, and “incessantly bugged him” about joining the band. Despite financial difficulties, her parents figured out a way for her play bass clarinet. Just six months later, she auditioned into an honors ensemble similar to All City.
“By 9th grade, I knew I wanted to teach music,” she said with wide eyes. “I met with my high school guidance counselor who asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. I told him, I want to teach music. ‘Why would you want to do that? You can be anything you want.’ I replied: “I wanna do this.”
Today Dr. Confredo is busy conducting everything from honors festivals for students as young as fifth grade, to the community band she founded at Temple University. The T.U. Night Owls includes a diverse array of musicians, from music education majors learning a new instrument to retired people looking to rekindle their love of music, and everything in between – including a few All City members.
“Each group has a different mission and a different end result. If I were to be the same conductor for these different kinds of groups, then I wouldn’t be very effective. You have to be able to reshape your own process and approach to be successful. For young kids, it is important to be their number one cheerleader.” She also helps them with ensemble etiquette and technique. When students get a bit older, instruction shifts to reinforcing musicianship skills and grasping expressiveness. “For the community band,” she explained, “Everyone is different, so we focus on learning together… I want to be the best musician that I can be. If I go to bed at night, and can say to myself that I have not learned something today, then I have not been paying attention.”
Why add All City to an already busy schedule?
“Public outreach is a really important part of my job. The more I work with young people, the better teacher I am. Part of my role [as a professor at a major research university] has to be bridging the gap between research and practice.” Her major goal for all city this year is to have a spectacular performance. She also cited the importance of getting the lay of the land. Dr. Confredo remarked that she “felt a real sense of positive energy” at the first All-City rehearsal, “like everybody wanted to be there, and that came through in their playing.”
Dr. Confredo still performs regularly, primarily on saxophone. She was in a classic rock band for a while, and plays jazz with her husband. She also subs in different groups around the area. “I don’t play nearly as much as I want to, but I still do play, which is a very cool thing.”
One more very cool thing: We are privileged at All City to have dedicated conductors who love what they do. Experiencing their passion projected into the air at our rehearsals is an essential aspect of making the music come alive. This intense drive for perfection and growth is something we will be able to take with us anywhere we go.