Category Archives: Teaching Orchestra/Strings

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!

Tuesday’s Tidbits: UIL Orchestra (PML)

While we realize that everyone is not as invested in the Texas UIL Prescribed Music List (PML) as we are, since two of our stores are in Texas, it still merits mention that this year there were many new titles added to the list(s), including music for full orchestra and string orchestra.

And while your particular situation may not require that you perform music from the list, that doesn’t mean that the list, in and of itself, is not indeed still a good resource when you’re simply looking for festival or competition music for other uses. That’s why we highlight it here and on our website, as well as across some of our other media channels (Slideshare, Flickr, Facebook, etc).

Just think about it….some great folks in Texas have done a lot of the work for you: reviewing, listening, and critiquing music, looking for only the best of the best in all levels for orchestra and strings. There are other states around the country that simply adopt the Texas UIL/PML list as their own, and call it day. Now, some people might call that robbery, and some people might just call it knowing when to take advantage of a good thing…..we’ll let you decide that for yourself. In the meantime, view the slideshow, download the pdf, and take a look at some great music for full orchestra and string orchestra.

Texas UIL Orchestra Sheet Music (PML): New Additions for  2011

The full orchestra/string orchestra sheet music titles that were recently added to the Texas UIL Prescribed Music List (PML) [2011].


And here is a link to the pdf brochure, which is on our website (also interactive):


Tipster: Teaching Young String Groups

We came accross this article on the web, and thought it would be a good one to pass along, especially since school will be starting up again in just a few weeks. It’s by Jacquelyn Dillon-Krass from Wichita State University.

Tips for Teaching Young String Groups to Play “In Tune”

by Jacquelyn Dillon-Krass

Music students learn more than music – they learn of life and self-worth. You are a valuable person in the lives of your students. “Don’t under-estimate the importance of your work or the responsibility that your job demands; enjoy it.”

Without a doubt, the most important and most difficult task facing the string teacher is teaching students to play “in tune.” Orchestral educators need to understand that (1) Good pitch never just happens; it is very carefully taught; (2) Poor pitch never gets better on its own; in fact, it usually gets worse; and (3) Concern for playing with good pitch is a never-ending quest, that has to be stressed daily with every group.

A beginner group, playing even the simplest music, should be expected to play with good pitch (first fingers in correct place, whole steps and half-steps obvious, etc.). “All purpose” second fingers (neither high enough nor low enough), so often heard, are simply unacceptable. In other words, there is absolutely no excuse for groups at any level to play out of tune.

If students are trained to be concerned about pitch from the very beginning, and then never allowed to play out of tune in rehearsals, they will play in tune under pressure at concerts. My beliefs and ideas on teaching young students to play in tune follow:

Follow the link below for the tips and the rest of the article from Conn-Selmer‘s Keynotes Magazine…

via Keynotes Magazine – Now Viewing Classroom Technique : Strings : Tips for Teaching Young String Groups to Play “In Tune” by Jacquelyn Dillon.