LAPS Foundation Sends LAMS Band Director Ryan Finn To World’s Largest Music Conference

LAMS Band Director Ryan Finn with his students. Courtesy/LAPS Foundation


Last fall, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation awarded nearly $11,000 for LAPS educators to pursue professional development opportunities in their fields. One of the recipients, Los Alamos Middle School Band Director Ryan Finn, recently attended the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

The renowned conference hosts thousands of music educators from around the country who work together attending workshops, clinics, and other professional developments. According to Finn, there were almost 20,000 band and orchestra directors from all over the world in attendance.

 “I had a fantastic time,” Finn said. “I had no clue how incredibly HUGE Midwest is. I witnessed some truly inspiring performances by some of our nation’s finest young musicians. I had the opportunity to hear talks and lectures by both up-and-coming band directors of note and world-renowned directors.”

Finn pointed out that the relative isolation of Los Alamos Public Schools and the state of New Mexico in general can be adverse to the ongoing professional growth of any professional. Educators must have opportunities to travel outside their locality to gain valuable tools and resources, and network with other professionals in their field.

He was able to learn and gain inspiration from many of the presentations and clinics offered.

“One particular talk I went to was led by William Owens, a well-known composer for student band music,” Finn said. “The talk was setup to allow Mr. Owens to teach about re-writing parts of a score in order to help accommodate smaller size bands. Not only is this something I do regularly here in Los Alamos, but I also am an amateur composer. The points he made were eye-opening and allowed me to see some fresh approaches.”

One of the main goals of the LAPS Foundation is to provide these types of professional development opportunities to district educators through grants offered twice annually. Not only does it allow educators to grow as professionals, but also they bring back the knowledge and inspiration they have gained and implement it into their curriculum, which directly benefits their students.

“I hope that I have incredible opportunities such as this again in the future,” Finn said. “I feel I am a better educator and musician due to them.”

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has donated more than $1 million to fund opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments in the Los Alamos public schools.

The Foundation raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values that excellent public education is every child’s right, and that excellent public education systems depend on: a well-informed and supportive community, caring and competent educators, a supportive and responsive school environment, and sufficient financing to achieve educational goals.

To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit or call 505.500.6501.

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