Tag Archives: music education

NAfME Celebrates Music in Our Schools Month

nafme_stackedMarch is Music In Our Schools Month®. 

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has named March as Music in our Our Schools Month®.

Schools and communities around the nation will participate in activities and initiatives geared toward heightening awareness of how music empowers and enriches the lives of our children.  The year’s theme is “Music Education – Orchestrating Success.”

The association is currently soliciting stories from students, parents and teachers who have been positively affected by music education in their schools.  The stories will be archived on the association’s advocacy blog and will use them in its efforts to garner Congressional support for its proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act which is designed to protect and promote music education.

Interested parties may submit their stories here.

Learn more about Music in Our Schools Month.

 

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.
 
 

Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons – NYTimes.com

New York Times Blog:

When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music.

Read on… Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons – NYTimes.com.

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

 

 

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.

Choral Students: Submit Text for an Upcoming Choral Arrangement!

Heritage Music Press continues to celebrate the value of music education and quality music for ensembles everywhere, and they’re inviting students to become part of the compositional process.

Through June 30, 2011, Heritage Music Press will accept submissions from students enrolled in any choral ensemble to be considered as a text for a future choral publication. The winning submission will be used by one of their composers to create a new composition for their Fall 2012 release. The student who submits this text will receive a $100 prize, and his or her choral ensemble may be given the opportunity to premiere the piece. Good Luck!!!

Best Communities for Music Education

There are only a couple of days left to participate in NAMM’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) Survey: Amid a backdrop of arts education budget cuts, now more than ever, a “Best Communities for Music Education” designation can help sustain and grow your music program.

The NAMM Foundation annually recognizes schools across the U.S. that support music education and provide opportunities for children and young people to learn and grow with music. Their survey has been conducted annually since 1998.

The Survey: It’s online NOW for schools and school districts, and will be available until March 13, 2011.

The List: The projected announcement of the BCME final roster is Monday, May 2, 2011.

_______________________

Choral Cache Thursdays, 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!

 

What Music Means to Me

Many of the people that work in the music industry outside of music education are or were educators themselves. Maybe they’re musicians, either professionally or recreationally; or perhaps they came to the industry through some other musical connection. The music industry is quite varied, and includes retail, wholesale, recording and technology, artist management, publishing and royalty rights, and much, much more.  And while there are indeed folks that work in the music industry that do not have any formal music training, for those of us that do, it’s that much sweeter when we can toot our horn for one of our own.

As so many music educators know, you don’t leave your trade at the back door of the school when you head home for the day. It’s a part of your everyday life, and it’s a part of who you are, both at home and at work. It identifies and defines you, by some measure. Other hobbies and interests can lure you away from music of course, but isn’t it funny how even the other endeavors somehow manifest themselves with a musical twist? And isn’t it glorious when they can co-exist so beautifully together, in harmony? A perfect example is Pender’s own Richard Rejino, the General Manager of the Dallas/Carrollton store.

 
Richard has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from West Texas State University, and a Masters degree in Piano Performance from the University of North Texas. He’s worked in print music retailing, as an owner and/or manager, for nearly 29 years. Richard also loves photography – it’s probably his biggest hobby. He loves his music, and he loves taking pictures. The result of that combined synergy? What Music Means to Me.  This project was initiated by Richard to raise public awareness of the value of music in education and in the quality of life, giving a voice to music students to express the power of music through their own experiences.

Written testimonials (in their own words) of musicians, from middle school students to senior citizens, are combined with Richard’s photography in a book that is informative, inspirational, and quite telling, on the power of music in people’s lives. The project, now available in book form, was even named a ‘Gotta Have It’ item at the recent National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show in California. NAMM is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the global music products industry, and What Music Means to Me was chosen as an item that should be in every music retailer’s store. Beyond the selling, though — the book and its pictures are insightful and revealing; they remind us all of the value of music in every day life.

Pender’s Piano Prose for Piano/Keyboard, the series, will post to www.pendersbuzz.com about once 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!