MMEA has always been an organization that has influenced who I am as a teacher. Through three decades of attendance at the conference I have seen many amazing performances (also participated in a few of those) and attended countless thought-provoking clinics, which have influenced what I do in my classroom daily. I have seen the tides of change as we progress with what we have known as music education and what it means to us today. MMEA has been, for most of us, the bond that holds us together. The organization has provided and continues to provide opportunities for all levels and disciplines in music education. And we, as a group, continue to explore different avenues of music education that provides access to more students.
My vision for the future of MMEA is to continue the work that has been done as an advocate for all types of music education, and work to include informational resources for those that are struggling with accessibility and inclusion.
Many times, we see only what we are doing in our various disciplines and lose sight of the many opportunities that could be available to our students. Are there ways that we might appeal to students with more than a traditional music ensemble? Or be able to include students outside of our normal scope of band, choir, and orchestra. I would like to see MMEA focus on providing clinics to help those of us that need ideas and examples of what non-traditional music classes look like and how they can function in our schools.
I know that accessibility and inclusion are buzz words in the education world right now. My idea of what those two words mean has changed over the years. We need to work to make sure that all students have access to quality music education, and make sure that the vision of our programs includes all types of students seeing themselves in our programs.
MMEA is currently facing challenges with how it is able to present its annual Inservice and Clinic. I know that the executive board is working through the best possible ways to include everyone and present quality clinics as it always has. If elected, I will strive to do the same because this organization can help all of us become better educators. It would be an honor for me to serve as President-Elect of MMEA, I am always willing to listen to solutions to problems and would do my best to make everyone feel heard and seen.
Denis Swope currently serves as the Director of Bands at Hickman High School. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Denis taught in Marceline, MO for two years before pursuing his master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting. Following graduation, he accepted a position as Associate Director of Bands with Moberly Public Schools, where he served for six years before accepting the position of Associate Director of Bands at Hickman High School. He served in this capacity for twelve years and is now in his twelfth year as Director of Bands at Hickman. His duties have included sharing four concert bands, marching band, jazz ensemble, and leading the pit orchestra for two musicals each year.
During his tenure at Hickman, he has also taught Jazz, Pop and Rock, Intro to Music, and two levels of Music Theory. He has also assisted with beginning instrument classes in the District. Denis is a member of and has served on the board of the Missouri Bandmasters Association.
During his time on the Board for MBA, he has served as Membership Chair, Vice President, President Elect/All State Coordinator, and President, Past President, and Board Member. He is also a member of MMEA, NAfME, MOAJE and Phi Beta Mu. He has also served as the Northeast Missouri Music Educators Association President, and as Vice President for Jazz. In 2020 he received recognition from Inside Columbia’s Magazine as the Gold Winner in the teacher category of their annual Best of Columbia program. In the summer of 2020, he accepted the position of Music Director for the Columbia Community Band.
Denis is married to Julie Swope and has four children: Mackenzie (Son in Law Collin Lamoureux), Brett, Evan, and Mia.