Category Archives: Education & Teaching

Grammy Flashback

Can you name the somewhat unlikely male/female duo who won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance?

Here’s a hint: Following her untimely death, her legendary singing partner reflected, “She was really the best of all the young artists that I met in the current scene in the last 10 or 15 years.”

Keepin’ it Real: Music [Education] in the Social and Digital Age

Companies large and small go in and out of business all the time, much like the ebb and flow of the tides each day. There is no sector of business immune to it, and sometimes there seems no rhyme or reason for it either. The business of sheet music is no different. Sheet music stores and sheet music publishers rise and fall, rise and fall, akin to a lilting melody in a song.

Some make it and some don’t. Take Carl Fischer sheet music, a tried-and-true music publisher that is celebrating 140 years of service this year to 1,400 sheet music retailers worldwide, Pender’s Music Co. being one of them. Consider this: when the founder of Carl Fischer first opened up for business, he didn’t sell sheet music at all. Carl Fischer, the business, was a musical instrument repair shop, and there is really little in common when comparing band instrument repair with the writing, designing, printing, publishing and distributing of a piece of sheet music.

But what about Southern Music Company, a business that was both a sheet music retailer and a music publisher, too? In February of this year, after 75 years of retailing and publishing, the San Antonio mainstay for music educators, performers and students everywhere closed its doors for good. Of course, it must be noted here that Lauren Keiser Music Publishing eventually took over the publishing division in June, but still, it’s the sign of the times —  rise and fall, rise and fall.

Like Carl Fischer, Pender’s Music Co. is also celebrating an anniversary, albeit only 45 years and counting. And somewhat similar to them, our primary focus in the beginning wasn’t sheet music either. Think soda fountain, art supplies, school supplies and more (a little bit of music), sold right on campus to college students. But even more similar? The acceptance of change, and the willingness to adapt to it, with a little bit of risk-taking for good measure.

That’s what small business is best at. That’s what a family-owned business is best at: the germ of the idea, the drive to make it happen, the willingness to cut your losses when necessary, the stick-to-it-ive-ness to ride the rise and fall, the dare to dream big all over again.

And what does all of this have to do with music education, social media, and the digital age? Quite a lot. Over the past few days, we’ve seen the viral video of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” as arranged and performed by the 3Penny Chorus and Orchestra. The 3Penny Chorus and Orchestra is a volunteer pickup ensemble conducted by Arianne Abela, a choral music conductor and educator who graduated from Yale’s School of Music Masters Program in choral conducting in 2010. And Colin Britt, who arranged the music for the group, was one of her classmates. He is now on the faculty at the Hartt School of Music.

We’ve also seen Korean singer’s Psy “Gangnum Style” as performed by the Ohio University Marching Band. These classically trained musicians, educators and students have put their own spin on popular music of today and shared it via social media to millions of people. Brilliant! It’s certainly a positive spotlight on choir, orchestra, and marching band.

As music educators, music makers, and the companies that supply needed goods and services to them move forward, it will be important for everyone to try and adapt to the changes of how media and information is transmitted nowadays. Embracing technology and its power of connecting people to people and products and services to people will be vital to staying strong both in education and in business. Sheet music, just as recorded music and published books before it, is rapidly transforming itself into a more digital-friendly medium — point of purchase digital downloads, online score and part perusal, streaming sample audio, etc. But let’s not forget that the content — that piece of sheet music with the lilting melody — remains the same, and the value of it is truly immeasurable.

Browse the new Carl Fischer Concert Band titles for 2012: listen to recordings, view full scores, shop online!

Work Backwards for Success

A Choir Teacher Prepares for the New School Year

[by Guest Blogger, Denise Eaton]

We are people of “beginnings” but I have found that teaching requires something more from me. Instead of thinking about the beginning of the year, think backwards. Make a list of the things that went well last year and the things upon which you would like to improve. Be very specific about both your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. One example could be that you feel very good about your ability to teach repertoire, but your classroom organizational skills need improvement. While thinking in that vein, begin planning to implement the “how to’s,” “what to do” and “what not to do’s” which will effect a successful beginning.

Confession: After twenty-nine years in the profession, I still attend the “Tried and Proven” and “Jump Start Your Year” -type sessions at conventions because I fret over what to do at the beginning of the year. They target young teachers but I am proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. It is crucial that there be a thorough classroom management plan in order to establish boundaries and expectations between you and your students. Procedures for checking roll, getting in seats, distribution of music/materials, picking and putting up folders, etc. must be well thought-out. Anticipate and have a plan for anything and everything your students will “throw” at you and know that it is impossible to over prepare.

Consider the concepts you taught last year, how you would like to build upon them, and any new ones you would like to teach this year. My list consists of:

  •  Continued rhythm growth: Extracting rhythms from repertoire, review of rhythm and relative duration (a very basic presentation of note values), and through selected drills from the Sueta Rhythm Vocabulary (ask your band director – he/she should have Sueta and many more you could use).
  • ŸInterval identification and drills: We begin the year speaking and singing steps and thirds, steps and thirds, steps and thirds. It is impossible to over enforce these basic tenets of sight reading throughout the year. Next we’ll begin the introduction of fundamentals from the SMART Book  in the tonality of the song(s) being introduced.
  • Ÿ Sight Reading: My high school Chorale used to begin the year sight reading The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Since it is four-part, it is at least eight days of sight reading, as everyone learns all four parts. The order of teaching events consisted of : chant text in rhythm, audiatesolfegge, and then sing solfegge.  The “amen” section is a great place to begin as the choir can successfully make the transition from syllables/neutral syllables to text. The song will be a great way to get them singing, but we would also begin some sort of sight singing series, be it SMART, Jenson, or portions of each.
  • ŸRepertoire: [All the time] I’m listening to CDs, digging through my “possible” music stacks, ordering single copies of songs heard while judging, attending festivals, and conventions.  Initially, my “possible” stacks start off high; I put anything and everything I think I might be able to teach plus all that my choir might be able to execute. It is then time to play through the songs, looking at range, harmonies, etc. all the while paying particular attention to exposure of each part.  This helps determine whether the song will show off a choir’s strengths or draw attention to their weaknesses. Eventually, there is a short stack for each choir. After much study and thought to what will provide a varied and interesting program, next is score study and teaching material preparation. It is always good, however, to keep a few songs in reserve; once you have actually heard your choir and you get to know their collective strengths/weaknesses, your repertoire choices could change.
  • ŸAssessment: Implement some creative ways to assess your students. Assign a part learning assignment using technology (Carl Fischer and BriLee have FREE down-loadable part-by-part recordings online); and writing assignments – nothing long and elaborate – merely a tool to get to know students better and to assess their strengths and weaknesses as communicators. In addition to their writing, the students will develop a word bank of musical terms and any vocabulary I use when teaching that they can not readily define. Rhythm counting drills are always fun and can be made into a competition/game between sections.

In closing, I hope that by working backwards, you can move forward as a teacher this year. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, to ask questions and to share your ideas with trusted colleagues in order to get feed-back and encourage dialogue. We are all in this together!

— Denise Eaton, a former TMEA President and active educator, joined the editorial team of Carl Fisher in 2011, where she serves as their choral editor. Carl Fischer, and their sister company, Theodore Presser, are leading publishers of educational choir sheet music, band sheet music, piano sheet music, orchestra sheet music, and much more.
 
 

The Literary Essay & Its Similarity to Sheet Music

What is an essay? When you look up the word ‘essay’ in a dictionary or online, it’s actually somewhat fascinating how the definition and description about it is so similar to what you would assume you’d find when looking up the definition and description of ‘sheet music.’ It’s quite uncanny, really. With a simple word change here or there, or a twist of phrase, what can be said about an essay can be said about a piece of sheet music, or a music composition. Wait. What was that? A music ‘composition?’ Isn’t ‘composition’ a synonym for ‘essay?’ Well, there you go.

You see, according to Wikipedia, an essay is “a piece of writing which is often written from an author’s personal point of view.” That’s pretty much what a piece of sheet music is supposed to be, too. The best music is sheet music that is written from the composer’s point of view.

According to About.com, “Essays are brief, non-fiction compositions that describe, clarify, argue, or analyze a subject.” Wow. [Sheet] music is much the same.  A music composition should come from the heart and be honest and true. And certainly there’s no one out there that would argue that music is not a descriptive medium. Additionally, what serious, upper-level music student hasn’t been required at times to analyze a piece of sheet music? And let’s not forget the element of clarity that music can bring to just about any situation. Hence, the existence of love songs, silly songs, sad songs, children’s songs, love gone wrong songs, and more. Music makes going through everyday life better.

The primary definition of essay at Dictionary.com states that it is “a short [literary] composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretive. Again, wow. Sheet music primarily begins with a theme, and certainly music can be very regimented and analytical, yet its speculative elements and how it is interpreted are big components, too. It’s all relative to the composer and the listener, of course, and it’s different for everyone. But that’s exactly why music has such value. Sheet music is limitless.

Essays are an important educational tool as well, and can be written in various forms and styles, like compare and contrast, cause and effect, descriptive, narrative — the list goes on. To wit, sheet music takes on many forms and styles, too. Some we understand, and some we don’t. And therein lies part of the mystery of it all. Whether sheet music is written in an analytical style, or whether it is written in a myriad of contrasts, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the creative endeavor was entered into at all. The process of writing a piece of sheet music includes forming an introduction, developing a body, and a conclusion. Wait. What was that? Introduction…body…conclusion. Sounds like the three primary elements of a good essay.

Enter the Morty Manus “What Music Means to Me” Essay Competition. Deadline is March 25th.

The Magnifica @ TMEA | TCU | TWU | UNT


The Magnifica
Brass Quintet from France @
TMEA | TCU | TWU | UNT Feb. 6, 7 & 10, 2012
 

Pender’s Music Co., Arpeges of France (IMD), and Music 1st are bringing the Magnifica Brass Quintet to the February 2012 Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention in San Antonio. The members will be presenting a master class and evening concert during the TMEA convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. They will also be spending time in the Pender’s Music Co. Booth (beginning @ #1219) throughout the weekend.

In addition to their appearance at TMEA, the Magnifica will also be presenting master classes and concerts at:

UNT on Monday, Feb. 6;

TCU on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 6 and 7; and

TWU on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

All university events are free and open to the public.

Dr. Etienne Stoupy (TWU) & David Begnoche (TCU)

are scheduled guest artists.

NOTE: Magnifica performance music and CDs will be available for purchase at each of the venues.

Where Sheet Music, Competition & Creativity Collide (in TX)

If you live in the state of Texas, and you’re involved in music and education in the schools, then the two acronyms TX UIL and TX PML likely spill freely and frequently from your lips. And even if you’re not from Texas, but are involved in music education somewhere in this great country of ours, then you probably know what they mean, right? Just in case you don’t, though, here’s the information in a nutshell taken from the UIL home page: “The University Interscholastic League (UIL) exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests for schools in Texas.”

As it pertains to UIL music, of course, this includes marching band, concert band, full and string orchestra, both instrumental and vocal solo and ensemble, and choir. Solo and Ensemble music events in band, choir and orchestra are scheduled in 28 TX UIL Music Regions, and portions of the choral and instrumental sheet music to be performed must come from the Prescribed Music List (PML).

Hence, since the performance at least in part must come from the UIL music list that is not of your own making, the sheet music selection itself is a very important part of the process, because no individual soloist or music performance group wants to play sheet music that is either too easy or too difficult. Nor do they want to play from just any sheet music that is on the UIL music list. It needs to be sheet music that is specifically relevant to their group. Picking out what sheet music is to be played at a competition (or in essence, at a mini concert), is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the TX UIL music process. That PML piece must be representative of the overall performance level of either that one person (in a solo), or the entire group of musicians involved. Because it’s all about the competition, right? Or is it?

Students want to earn that Division One Rating at the region competitions, so that they are eligible to advance to the TX UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest that is traditionally hosted in Austin every year on Memorial Day Weekend. The annual trek is to Austin, because it was the University of Texas at Austin that created the TX UIL in first place in 1910. So consider that. What has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world, has a more than one hundred year history, and the model from which it was created here in Texas is now emulated all over the country.

But is it really all for just the competition? Most certainly not. Yet in almost any music circle, you’ll find there is usually a constant debate about competition, its merits, and how it relates to music and the arts. There is a school of thought that since music and the arts are creative pursuits, why must competition or the participation in music contests be an integral part of it, particularly in the school classroom? It almost seems contradictory doesn’t it? Music | Creativity | Expression. What is competitive in that? How can you measure creativity? Expression?

Yet (again from the internet pages of the TX UIL), “the Music Program [specifically]…is designed to support and enrich the teaching of music as an integral component of the public school curriculum in the state of Texas.” Support…enrich…compete, too…and don’t forget to play or sing that choral octavo or instrumental sheet music as creatively and expressively as you can. Because luckily for us, UIL music and competition have and will continue to coexist beautifully together, because as anyone knows, the heart and soul of a school’s music organization is its concert ensemble, whether it be the top-level choral group, or the elite wind ensemble in the concert band program. It is by no coincidence at all that the best marching band programs are a direct reflection of the best concert bands; that the best a cappella choral groups are an extension of the premiere choir in the school; that the wind trios, brass quartets, and percussion ensembles that compete in the TX UIL music contests are usually formed from the top players of their respective programs.

So play on and compete. Seek and find the best band sheet music, choir sheet music, and instrumental sheet music which speak not only to you, but to your students as well. The time to do it is now. Christmas is right around the corner and the TX UIL music competitions will be here before you know it. Therefore, let the sheet music, competition and creativity collide, and trust Pender’s Music Co. to help you. The result will be worth it.

Helpful links:

Band PML | New Selections for 2011 | Texas UIL (slideshow)
New Texas UIL | PML Concert Band Additions for 2011-2012 (pdf)
Choral PML | New Selections for 2011 | Texas UIL (slideshow)
New Texas UIL | PML Choral Additions for 2011-2012 (pdf)
Orchestra PML | New Selections for 2011 | Texas UIL (slideshow)
New Texas UIL | PML Full & String Orchestra Additions for 2011-2012 (pdf)
Texas UIL | PML Vocal
Texas UIL | PML Instrumental
Texas UIL | PML String

 

 

NEW Freddie the Frog: Beyond the Books | Finally Here!

NEW Teacher’s Book!

[The information below is taken from Sharon’s e-newsletter announcement that the long-awaited book, Freddie the Frog: Beyond the Books is finally in print. Get one now, for the beginning of your school year!]

From Sharon: How do I teach music beyond the Freddie the Frog storybooks?

The storybooks are just the introduction and the connection to Freddie.  Then, the learning really begins with Freddie introducing games, songs, and activities that always build on the foundation of the stories. Kids want to learn anything that Freddie thinks is fun!

The NEW Teacher’s Book outlines the 14 sequential lessons that I developed to teach music concepts, utilizing the storybooks and far beyond. The lessons include when and at what grade levels to introduce each book, how to introduce and review key concepts.  Plus, extension lessons that reinforce the learning.

It comes with a CD-Rom that includes:

Reproducible Student Flashcards

25 Coloring Pages

3 Interactive Whiteboard Lesson flipcharts/PPT files

Freddie the Frog® ClipArt

Assessment Report Sheet

Assessment Teacher Files

Available NOW

Sharon

Freddie the Frog®

-The Mascot of Music Education.

via NEW Freddie the Frog TEACHER’S BOOK is here!.

Other books and supplements in the Freddie Series: