By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

For many of us, the portal to the joys of making music was opened by a band director during our school years. Those first tentative notes became an exciting new skill, shared by other band members as we learned one of mankind’s first art forms. Band directors do that—connect us to our cultural heritage in exciting, personal ways. 

Thanks to lessons, community concerts, contests and marching competitions, our band directors are the musical heart of our communities, often the strongest professional link to the world of orchestras, jazz bands, theater and so much more. They inspire us, they teach us and they encourage us to make music a vital part of each of our lives.

It’s a big job—and band directors, like all of us, need a chance to recharge, to be inspired themselves and to keep growing as musicians and educators. Arts South Dakota is proud to be a sponsor of an opportunity for South Dakota music educators to do just that.

This year marks the inaugural edition of the Band Director Institute, scheduled for July 15-17 at Northern State University in Aberdeen. This is a unique opportunity for our state’s school music directors to sharpen skills, learn new techniques and network with other music educators. They will share the NSU campus with the 20th annual Arts Education Institute. The three-day Band Director Institute will include new music reading sessions, instrument master classes and clinic sessions that focus on a wide variety of teaching subjects for band directors. Music instructors at the institute will also hear from headline clinician Michael Sweeney, Composer and Director of Band Publications for Hal Leonard. 

There’s still time for band directors to register for this great learning opportunity. Just go to for more information and details on joining in the fun in Aberdeen.

Throughout our state, band directors are making a difference in the lives of students and their families. We can all support our local music education programs and show our appreciation for the band directors who bring music into our communities.

Whether you are an educator, an artist, an arts advocate or want to learn more about the arts in South Dakota, visit