Desert Skies Symposium

Past Symposia

Desert Skies Symposium 2021, Feb. 18-20

Desert Skies Symposium 2021, Feb. 18-20

The 2021 Desert Skies Symposium on Research in Music Learning and Teaching is open to all music and arts educators, artists, and community members, and focuses on persistent questions in education, the arts, and culture. The conference schedule and sessions are designed to be interactive, with opportunities to be in dialogue with one another about urgent matters in our field, particularly matters of justice, inclusion, and diversity. For the 2021 Symposium, the plenary speakers will be Bryan Brayboy, Natalie Diaz, and Django Paris. Each speaker will be featured in a plenary session, including a dialogue time with participants, and then all three speakers will be  together in a conversation session with each other and conference participants. We’ve asked these three distinguished guests to help us think about indigeneity, justice, and how our work can support transformative change in this moment.

Plenary Speakers:

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy (Lumbee) is President’s Professor of Indigenous education and justice in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. At ASU, he is senior advisor to the president, director of the Center for Indian Education, associate director of the School of Social Transformation, and co-editor of the Journal of American Indian Education. He is the author of more than 90 scholarly documents, including being the author/editor of eight volumes, dozens of articles and book chapters, multiple policy briefs for the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the role of race and diversity in higher education, and the experiences of Indigenous students, staff, and faculty in institutions of higher education.  He and his team have, over the past 17 years, prepared more than 155 Native teachers to work in American Indian communities and more than 15 American Indian PhDs.

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press, and her second book, Postcolonial Love Poem,  was published by Graywolf Press in March 2020. She is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, as well as a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded the Princeton Holmes National Poetry Prize and a Hodder Fellowship. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the United States Artists, where she is an alumni of the Ford Fellowship. Diaz is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.

Django Paris is a Black educator and scholar born on Ohlone homelands in San Francisco, California to a White mother and a Black Jamaican father. Paris is honored to be the inaugural James A. and Cherry A. Banks Professor of Multicultural Education and director of the Banks Center for Educational Justice at the University of Washington. His teaching and research focus on sustaining languages, literacies, and lifeways among Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander students in the context of ongoing resurgence, decolonization, liberation, and justice movements in and beyond schools.  He is particularly concerned with educational and cultural justice as outcomes of inquiry and pedagogy. Paris is author of Language across Difference: Ethnicity, Communication, and Youth Identities in Changing Urban Schools (2011), and co-editor of Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities (2014), Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World (2017) and  Education in Movement Spaces: Standing Rock to Chicago Freedom Square.

Schedule and Desert Skies Final Program 

This schedule is a complete guide to participating in the 2021 Desert Skies Symposium. Each session and paper session room has been assigned its own Zoom link. You can find those links by clicking on each of the session and paper room titles (i.e., “Plenary Session 1,” “Room Three”). 

Additionally, you can find abstracts for each paper session at the top of each session, and you can see lightning talk introductions to the papers by clicking on most of the paper titles.

We look forward to starting the symposium with the Welcome and Orientation on Thursday, February 18th at 9:00 am MST.  During the first session of each day, you can enjoy last-minute announcements as well as answers to questions that have been addressed in previous emails over your morning beverage of choice! 

One of the most enjoyable part of conference attendance is the sometimes-spontaneous/sometimes-long awaited conversations we take up with colleagues and new acquaintances. On both Thursday and Friday, we’ll end the day with a session of “Conversation and Reflection.” We invite you to gather to talk about the day, about questions, about problems, about ideas, and about actions. We’ve designed Desert Skies 2021 to focus on matters of equity and justice, with three plenary speakers who will have much to offer us alongside your thought-provoking papers. 

We’ll have several breakout rooms that you can enter on your own. So, invite a graduate student, senior scholar, close friend, or new collaborator to coffee, dinner, or a drink throughout the day with plans to meet during the Conversation and Reflection session. 

If you’d like to host a conversation on a specific topic, let us know and we’ll set up a room for you. You can tell us about the breakout discussions you’d like to have in advance by emailing your ideas to We hope to generate ideas that can lead to action and transformative change for all of us.  

The conference ends with two sessions for everyone. The first is labeled “Reflection and Calls to Action.” We hope that the conference generates ideas for how each of us individually and all of us collectively might continue to work toward justice and equity in our lives and our profession. Please join us during this time to reflect, think, and act. Finally, the very last session is an “End of Conference Zoom Room Celebration.” We will be very glad to hear your ideas about conference during that time, and, we don’t know about you, but happy hour will have arrived in Arizona by then.

Desert Skies Symposium 2019, Feb. 21-23

Desert Skies Symposium 2019, Feb. 21-23

The School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University welcomes the 2019 Desert Skies Symposium for Research in Music Education to Tempe and the ASU campus on February 21-23. See the links below for further information about the 2019 Desert Skies Symposium.

Call for Papers

Please click on the link below to view the information on the Call for Papers: 

PDF icon Desert Skies Call 2019.pdf

Deadline for submissions is September 30, 2018.


Registration is now open. Click below to register for the 2019 Desert Skies Symposium:
The early bird conference rate of $95 for faculty and $50 for full-time students will be available through January 31st. After January 31st, the conference rate will be $120 for faculty and $60 for full-time students.  

Conference Schedule Outline and Locations

Desert Skies 2019 Abbreviated Schedule

Final Program

Desert Skies Symposium Final Program 2019


Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

Session 8 

Session 9

Session 10


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, is the main airport serving the Greater Phoenix area. It serves more than 40 million passengers a year, and goes to more than 100 domestic and international destinations, making it one of the 10 busiest airports in the U.S. With about 1,200 daily flights – about 500 nonstop – Sky Harbor is one of the most convenient airports and is about six miles from the campus and the conference hotel. 

The conference hotel (the Graduate) has a free shuttle (on the hour). Click here for directions from Sky Harbor


The conference hotel is The Moxy in Tempe, a newly-renovated boutique property. The Moxy is a 10-minute walk from the ASU Memorial Union, where sessions will be held. Book early to ensure a place, as Spring Training folks will be coming to town at about the same time.

Book your group rate for International Desert Skies Symposium

You will find the information for your online reservation link below. If you have questions or need help with the link, please do not hesitate to ask. We appreciate your business and look forward to a successful event.

Event Summary:

International Desert Skies Symposium

Start Date: Wednesay, February 20, 2019

End Date: Monday, February 25, 2019

Last Day to Book: Friday, January 18, 2019

Hotel(s) offering your special group rate:

  • Moxy Phoenix tempe/ASU Area. 199 USD - 199 USD per night

The Moxy Phoenix Tempe/ASU Area

Phone: (480) 968-3451
Address: 1333 S Rural Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281

Conference Rate: $199/night, includes wifi and self-parking

*Must reserve before January 18th in order to get the group rate
**Mention you are with the International Desert Skies Symposium

Reservation Link: The Moxy

Local Restaurants

Click below for local eateries and restaurants near ASU's main campus: 

PDF icon desert_skies-_where_to_eat_.pdf

Instructions for Presenters 

The Desert Skies Symposium has used the following presentation format for several years, and we will continue with this format for the 2019 event.

Sessions are 90 minutes long and include up to five to eight papers. 

Each 90-minute session begin with one-minute lightening talks by each of the presenters to the entire group.The lightening talks are overviews to help attendees select breakout sessions. Abstracts will be available online, which also aids attendees in selecting sessions.

Presenters then go to one of the five to eight presentation tables/spaces, where authors present seated at a table to six to ten attendees.

Three break-out times of 25 minutes follow the lightening talks. 

In break-out sessions, individuals present and discuss their research with a smaller group seated at the presenter's table. Typically, presenters do not read entire papers; rather, this is a more informal presentation of your research in a format of your choice, with the aim of engaging discussion and questions from those who have selected your session. Some presenters choose to use slides and/or audio/video clips using laptop computers. Others chose to provide handouts or an outline. Neither is required. Additional ideas are welcome.  The idea is to engage in conversation about your research. 

After about 25 minutes, groups rotate, and presenters repeat to a new small group, then another rotation occurs. In other words, you will present/discuss your research three times, each time to/with a different small group of attendees, during the same 90-minute session.

Desert Skies Symposium 2017, Feb. 23-25

Desert Skies Symposium 2017, Feb. 23-25

Conference Schedule Outline and Locations for February 23-25

February 23: 11 am to 6 pm.  The Graduate Hotel, 2nd floor conference room 

February 24:  8:30 am to 5:00 pm.  ASU Memorial Union, Cochise room

February 25:  8:30 am to 1:00 pm.  ASU Memorial Union, Alumni Lounge

Conference Program

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_program.pdf

Conference Abstracts

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_1.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_2.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_3.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_4.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_5.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_6.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_7.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_8.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_2017_session_9.pdf

Desert Skies Symposium 2015, Feb. 19-21

Desert Skies Symposium 2015, Feb. 19-21

Symposium on Research in Music Education
February 19-21, 2015
Tucson, Arizona

The Symposium

The Desert Skies Symposium on Research in Music Education is the longest-running symposium on music education in the United States and draws prominent national and international researchers and pedagogues. The Symposium provides a forum for researchers to share the results of their investigations with K-16 teachers. This biennial event, (held in February of odd-numbered years) is attended by K-12 teachers and graduate students, as well as national and international professors, and independent scholars.

Schedule Outline

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Registration 5:30

Opening Speaker: 6:00

Research Session 1: 7:15-8:45

Reception: 8:45-9:45 (Light refreshments served)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Keynote Speaker: 9:00 - 9:45

Discussion/Questions 9:45 – 10:15

Research Session 2: 10:30 - 12:00

Lunch: 12:00 - 2:00

Research Sessions 3 and 4: 2:00 - 5:15

Evening is on your own

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keynote Speaker: 8:30 - 9:15

Discussion/Questions 9:15 – 9:45

Research Sessions 5 and 6: 9:45 – 12:45

Conference ends: 12:45

PDF icon 2015_overview_-_desert_skies_session_format.pdf

PDF icon 2015_symposium_-program_final_v2.pdf

PDF icon desert_skies_advisory_board_meeting_minutes.pdf


Desert Skies Symposium 2013, Feb. 21-23

Desert Skies Symposium 2013, Feb. 21-23

Desert Skies Symposium 2011, Feb. 17-19

Desert Skies Symposium 2011, Feb. 17-19

Desert Skies Symposium 2009, Feb. 19-21

Desert Skies Symposium 2009, Feb. 19-21

Desert Skies Symposium 2007, Feb. 15-17

Desert Skies Symposium 2001