Tag Archives: band music

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!

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

 

 

Texas UIL | PML & You

The University Interscholastic League was created by The University of Texas at  Austin in 1910. It facilitates educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests, and has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. In particular, the Music Program of the UIL is designed to support and enrich the teaching of music as an integral component of the public school curriculum in the state of Texas.

And while your area may or may not have its own version of the UIL, there’s no doubt that the resources available from them can and are helpful to most educators, whether from the state of Texas or not. The TX UIL has been in the process of revising its Prescribed Music List, and recently, more than 100 titles were added to the band division of the list. Scroll through the slideshow below to review the latest additions, as well as to click through to audio files and pdf sample scores (where available).

Music from Glee: It’s Not for Singers Only


The Fox TV show Glee continues to breathe new life into many classic ’70s and ’80s-era songs, as well as heighten the awareness of music and the arts in our modern-day schools. It’s the glee club that’s usually in the spotlight of the series, but luckily for today’s instrumental educators, there have been several band arrangements that have been produced, in addition to the chorals, that correlate with the show.

Therefore, the entire music department can get in on the re-popularization of many of the iconic rock songs and power ballads of decades gone by, as well as enjoy fresh, innovative versions of some of today’s hottest songs.

So, Glee-k Out! at your spring concert this year. There are plenty of arrangements to choose from, and the band (and the audience) will love it!

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Additional Songs, featured in the TV Show Glee:

Grade 1

Any Way You Want It (Journey)

Grade 1+

Defying Gravity (Wicked)

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)

I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables)

Lean On Me (Bill Withers)

Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)

Grade 2

Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)

Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)

Time Warp (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Grade 2+

Tribute to Journey (medley)

Grade 3

Defying Gravity (Wicked)

Hello, Goodbye (Beatles medley)

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Midweek Newspeak for Band and Instrumental, the series, posts to www.pendersbuzz.com a couple of times a month, with information from our staff, our publisher partners, guest bloggers and more. Come back to this site, or access it from our main Home Page, to find out the latest buzz!

OMEA & Student Motivation

The Oklahoma Music Educators Convention/Conference begins this week, so preparations for the Pender’s Music exhibit are in the final stages. There are many interesting clinics that are to be presented in the Band Division. One of them will feature Harry Haines (Professor of Music, Emeritus) and Russ Teweleit (Associate Director of Bands), from West Texas A&M University. They’ll be addressing student motivation and assessment.

The clinic will also include audio and video recordings of three band/wind ensemble classics: Armenian Dances (Reed), Lincolnshire Posy (Grainger), and La Gazza Ladra (Rossini). The young bands featured in the audio and video are from Professor Haines’s public school teaching days, which just goes to show you that the classics, aged though they may be, never seem to lose their allure, for both audiences and students alike. They challenge the students, and impress the crowds. What’s not to like about that?

Who: Harry Haines & Russ Teweleit, Clinicicans

What: Student Motivation

Where: Oklahoma Music Educators Convention ( OMEA, Tulsa, OK Convention Center)

When: 8:00 to 8:50am, Friday, January 21st, 2011

Midweek Newspeak for Band and Instrumental, the series, will post to www.pendersbuzz.com a couple of times a month, with information from our staff, our publisher partners, guest bloggers and more. Come back to this site, or access it from our main Home Page, to find out the latest buzz!