APRIL 2008 $5.00
Connecting with Students through Music Technology
Survey: Recruitment & Retention Commentary: Student Leaders
FROM THE TRENCHES: Bob Morrison shares a remarkable story of the life-long impact one high school music program has had on its students.
UPCLOSE: OWEN BRADLEY In this SBO interview, Owen Bradley provides some insight into precisely how the latest technology is revolutionizing not only the creation and production of music, but also the role of music educators in this new and rapidly evolving world.
PERFORMANCE: TRUMPET PRACTICE David Allison, principal trumpet for the South Carolina Philharmonic, outlines successful practice techniques for student trumpet players.
SURVEY: RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION The latest SBO survey takes stock of current trends in music program recruitment and retention.
COMMENTARY: LEAD BY EXAMPLE Robert Stein, founder of Standing O – Marching Arts Specialists, highlights the necessity of solid student leadership in the marching arts.
TECHNOLOGY: POWER-USER APPLICATIONS, PART 2 Dr. Kuzmich wraps up his introduction to power-user applications in the second installment of this two-part series.
HOW TO BUY: CLARINET To help parents and beginning students, SBO publisher Rick Kessel gives an overview of what to look for when purchasing a clarinet.
Columns 4 6 50 52
Perspective Headlines New Products
54 55 56
Calendar Playing Tip Ad Index
Cover photo by Mark Scott, North Port, Fla. SB&O School Band and Orchestra® (ISSN 1098-3694) is published monthly by Symphony Publishing, LLC, 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1, Needham, MA 02494 (781) 453-9310, publisher of Musical Merchandise Review, Choral Director, Music Parents America and JAZZed. All titles are federally registered trademarks and/or trademarks of Symphony Publishing, LLC. Subscription Rates: one year $24; two years $40. Rates outside U.S.A. available upon request. Single issues $5 each. February Resource Guide $15. Periodical-Rate Postage Paid at Boston, MA and additional mailing offices. Ride-along mail enclosed. POSTMASTER/SUBSCRIBERS: Send address change to School Band and Orchestra, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Copyright © 2008 by Symphony Publishing, LLC, all rights reserved. Printed in USA.
2 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
Another Bright Idea.
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A Time to Be Proactive
t’s extraordinary to think it was only in mid2006 that the state of California announced an enormous package of $105 million in recurring funding for arts education along with a onetime award of $500 million to rebuild programs, which included funds for instruments, sports, and art equipment. Unfortunately, there has been a tectonic shift with the current sub-prime mortgage crisis, increased oil prices, the weak U.S. dollar, and an economy caught in a difficult recession, especially in California. These large packages of support for the arts are now in jeopardy and schools may be facing further cuts into normal budgets. Other states particularly hard hit include the midwestern industrial states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania well as southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, and many others. This scenario obviously presents a challenging picture for the field of music education. Those of us who have been in the workforce for a de“This is the time cade or more have seen the effects of past recessions on to be proactive and music education. According to the Los Angeles Times, rally the supporters February 21, 2008 edition, California school districts are already cutting their staffs and reducing their fundin your community ing to programs in reaction to the $4.8 billion proposed to stand behind mu- budget cut to education in the coming year. Schools sic education.” across the state are reacting to this news with great concern about their ability to make cuts to be in line with the reduced funding. As we all know, the impact on arts programs is usually the first to be felt by these cuts and other states are grappling with similarly difficult choices. Though there are no easy solutions to this difficult budget environment, this is the time to be proactive and rally the supporters in your community to stand behind music education. As the country slips into a recession, school budgets that have been in place for a year may remain set for now, but this is not the time to become complacent. Music programs that have been successful in staving off major program cuts have done so by effectively organizing parents, administrators, students, local politicians, and other key constituents before the voting on the budgets has taken place. There is a wealth of resources to help in this organizational effort, including Web sites such as www.supportmusic.com, www.MENC.org, www.vh1.com/partners/ save_the_music, www.mhopus.org, www.namm.org. Also, Dr. John Benham, the renowned music education advocate, has helped many programs survive by presenting a convincing nuts-and-bolts economic argument for maintaining music programs to many school boards. He can be contacted through his Web site at: www.musicinworldcultures.com.
April 2008 Volume 11, Number 4
GROUP PUBLISHER Sidney L. Davis email@example.com PUBLISHER Richard E. Kessel firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Staff
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4 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
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HeadLines Mt. Hebron H.S. Band Includes 2 Millionth Disney Magic Music Days Performer
hen the Mt. Hebron High School band from Ellicott City, Md., marched down Main Street, U.S.A., in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on March 14, it marked a milestone moment echoing two million instrumentalists, singers, and dancers who have now showcased their talents as part of Disney Magic Music Days. Mt. Hebron band director Bob Johnston assisted in the selection by providing names of students who could represent the band. Traci Ervin was selected for the honor as the ceremonial two-millionth performer prior to the 160-member band’s afternoon march ahead of the Disney Dreams Come True Parade. Ervin, who has distinguished herself through her dedication to the band at Mt. Hebron, received the true Disney royal treatment later Friday: Joined by her parents, Ervin spent the night in the Magic Kingdom amid the luxury of the Cinderella Castle Suite. The family also received a return trip to the Vacation Kingdom for an extended vacation. Also on hand for the occasion were Traci Ervin and Conn-Selmer’s Glen Jordan. MENC’s Dr. John Mahlmann, Glen Jordan of Conn-Selmer, and members of the media Prior to the big day, the particulars of the event were kept closely under wraps, even from Mt. Hebron school officials. “The details of exactly what the recognition was were sketchy, even nonexistent, but I assumed that it was an award because of the quality and reputation of the Mt. Hebron band program,” recalls Linda Wise, assistant superintendent of Howard County Public Schools. “Curious, I went on the Disney Web site and concluded that the ‘Magic Moment’ was similar to the Make-a-Wish foundation and, therefore, that some lucky Mt. Hebron student would have his or her wish granted in a spectacular way. Little did I know just how spectacular the moment would be. I can assure you that everyone who participated will forever hold this moment as a special memory.” Even after the nature of the recognition was revealed to select key players in the event, the specifics of the “Magic Moment” were a closely guarded secret. “While at the park, I spotted some students and tried to slip away without them seeing me,” says Mt. Hebron H.S. principal, David Brown. “However, they did catch up to me and I ended up speaking to them, making small talk and asking about the bus trip down. I didn’t want to reveal why I was there and spoil the moment. I didn’t even ask about when or where they were performing! I’m sure that, at the time, they thought I was somewhat aloof. I am also confident that the ‘Magic Moment’ made it clear to them why I acted the way I did.” Ervin and her mellophone were just part of the magical performances presented by some 30,000 Disney Magic Music Days groups from all 50 states and five (Continued on page 8) 6 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
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HeadLines continents since the program began in 1985. Imagine a mass performing group more than three times the size of the entire population of Baltimore – that’s how many groups, of all ages, have performed before guests in the Disney Theme Parks or at Downtown Disney. “Disney Magic Music Days is a key entertainment component of the Walt Disney World Resort,” said Tim Hill, director of special programs for Disney Destinations. “The performers have the unique opportunity to be Disney Cast Members for the day as they perform for the ‘World’.” While Disney Magic Music Days may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a particular student, groups such as the Mt. Hebron band have regularly submitted audition tapes. This was the Maryland group’s fifteenth appearance since the theme park opened. Band director Johnston has taught at
Linda Wise, Traci Ervin, and David Brown.
the school for over 34 years and has traveled to perform at Walt Disney World every other year. “It is really all about the students,” said Johnston. “They are a great group
and they really deserve this honor.” In 2010, Disney Magic Music Days will celebrate 25 years of entertaining Disney Guests. In preparation for that milestone Disney is actively looking for Disney Magic Music Day performers who have gone on to careers in music, on stage or on screen. To share a story about an alumnus visit www. disneymmd.com/alumni. Interested performing groups begin the process by submitting an audition tape, photograph of their performance attire and application. After review by the Magic Music Days team, they may receive an official invitation to perform. In exchange for their performance, the groups get favorable pricing on their theme park ticketing. Leaders of youth performing groups interested in more information about Disney Magic Music Days can visit www.disneymagicmusicdays.com or call toll-free (800) 603-0552.
When it comes to standing out, nothing’s more important than the music. And Bari synthetic reeds are a simple change that can make a show-stopping difference. They offer your students better response and control. And because they’re synthetic they can’t warp or squeak, regardless of the conditions outside. Help your students get to the next level faster by recommending Bari. It’s one less thing you’ll lose sleep over.
8 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
A) is fast and easy to use
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HeadLines Three Inducted to Bands of America HOF
hree icons were inducted into the Bands of America Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, March 1, during the Music for All National Festival in Indianapolis. Col. Arnald Gabriel, Marie Czapinski, and Alfred Watkins were recognized for their contributions to Bands of America and music education in the United States. Bands of America is a program of Music for All, one of the nation’s largest and most influential organizations in support of active music-making. Col. Arnald Gabriel, Conductor Emeritus of the United States Air Force Band, retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36 year military career. Photo credit: Music for All/Jolesch Photography. He served as Commander/Conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. Col. Gabriel has been part of the Music for All National Festival every year since it debuted in 1992 and twice conducted the national Honor Band of America. Left to right: Music for All President and CEO Scott McMarie CzapinCormick, 2008 Bands of America Hall of Fame inductees Col. ski has been part of Arnald Gabriel, Marie Czapinski, and Alfred Watkins. Bands of America since participating in the planning stages of the organization with founder Larry McCormick. Czapinski is a leader in the marching, color guard and visual design worlds of pageantry. She is an adjudicator and clinician for Bands of America, Drum Corps International (DCI) and Winter Guard International (WGI). She is a co-founder of Winter Guard International and has appeared on the DCI World Championships Broadcast on ESPN2. Alfred Watkins has been part of Music for All and Bands of America in nearly every conceivable capacity. He was on the advisory committee charged with designing the National Concert Band Festival, is a clinician at the Summer Symposium and a BOA marching band championship adjudicator. He has been director of bands at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia since 1992. While at Lassiter, his ensembles have performed at Music for All’s National Concert Band Festival and National Percussion Festival and the Lassiter marching band won the Bands of America Grand National Championships in 1998 and 2002. The Hall of Fame induction presentations were made during the Honor Band of America concert on the final evening of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Now in its 17th year, the Music for All National Festival featured performance by 18 concert bands, seven percussion ensembles and three orchestras, Feb. 28 through March 1 in Indianapolis. For more information, please visit www.bands.org.
10 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
Memphis City Schools Provides In-Service Program
ecently the Memphis City Schools brought the Conn-Selmer Institute In-service program to its music educators across the school district. The program for band, choral, orchestral, and general music educators was hosted at the University of Memphis and featured in-service sessions conducted by Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, Mr. Alfred Watkins, Dr. William Malambri, and Mr. Brad White. More than 132 Memphis City Schools music educators participated in the event, which was arranged by Jim Holcomb, Music & Dance supervisor for Memphis City Schools, and partially funded by the school district’s Department of Curriculum and Professional Development. The program covered how music instructors impact not only music and art, but how they affect the future of their students. Direct practical applications for the public school music instruction were presented by Mr. Alfred Watkins, who discussed ways of recruiting and retaining music students within an urban setting. Dr. Bill Malambri, director of bands at Winthrop University, provided insight into score preparation and salient points on concert preparation in preparation for the afternoon sessions. After lunch, two rehearsal clinics were presented. Mr. Brad White, director of fine arts for the Birdville (Texas) Independent School District, and Dr. Malambri presented rehearsal clinics where local ensembles provided for demonstrations of rehearsal techniques. The Overton High CPA Wind Ensemble, directed by Andre Feagan, and Overton CAPA Choir, director by Kenneth Eichholtz, were featured as two ensembles that had used rehearsal techniques to become well prepared for their musical presentations. The afternoon concluded with Dr. Watkins and Dr. Lautzenheiser leading closing sessions focused on practical and motivational presentations. For more information, please visit www.csinstitute.org.
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HeadLines Study Reveals Teens’ Commitment To Music
he NAMM Foundation today has announced the results of a recently published research study by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D. of the University of Washington as part of the Foundation’s Sounds of Learning research initiative. The study, titled “Adolescents’ Expressed Meanings of Music in and out of
School,” was based on responses by 1,155 teens who submitted student essays to Teen People magazine as part of an Online contest. Throughout their essays, students expressed their thoughts toward learning and playing music and revealed that they value music making as a central aspect of their identities.
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The analysis was funded by the NAMM Foundation as part of its Sounds of Learning initiative, a program devoted to studying the associated learning benefits of making music. Campbell conducted the study with Claire Connell of the University of Washington and Amy Beegle of Pacific Lutheran University. The findings were published in the Fall 2007 issue of the Journal for Research in Music Education. For more information, visit www.nammfoundation.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belmont University has announced that Lee Zapis, president of Zapis Capital Group, and his wife Ageleke will offer the first fully funded endowed scholarship in the new Songwriting Major being offered through the Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. The couple’s $25,000 gift will be used to establish an endowed fund to be known as the “Leon and Ageleke Zapis Songwriters Scholarship.” Scholarship recipients will be determined annually based on a review process by the Curb College in consultation with Belmont Student Financial Services. Last fall Belmont became one of the first accredited universities in the nation to offer a major in songwriting with 50 student songwriters filling the first two introductory courses to capacity. Songwriting veterans Thom Schuyler and Bob Regan have joined the Curb College faculty as adjunct instructors to teach Introduction to Songwriting, the first course offered in the new major. For more information, please visit www.belmont.edu.
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Online Survey Results Do you plan to attend April’s Music Educators National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?
Yes 21% No 79% Visit www.sbomagazine.com and let your voice be heard in the current online poll – results to be published in the next issue of SBO.
14 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
NAMM Designates “Wanna Play Music” Week
AMM has announced that May 5-9, 2008 will officially be known as Wanna Play Music Week, a time to recognize the vital role music and music education plays in the lives of all Americans. Kicking off Wanna Play Music Week on May 5, NAMM will lead U.S. musicians, music organizations, and music lovers everywhere to join with the Canadian-based Coalition for Music Education in its fourth annual Music Monday celebration. On Music Monday, NAMM will invite music makers and musicians from American symphony orchestras, rock bands, jazz ensembles, school bands, hip-hop and rap artists, blues and folk artists to perform the same song together on the same day and at the same exact time to demonstrate music’s importance in our lives. The Music Monday song will be “Our Song,” composed by Canadian singer/songwriters Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, DALA. The song (in many arrangements) can be downloaded at www.musicmonday.ca. Wanna Play Music Week is part of NAMM’s nationwide “Wanna Play?” campaign dedicated to increasing awareness of the proven benefits of playing musical instruments for people of all ages. For more information, interested parties can visit www.wannaplaymusic.com.
Pachelbel’s Canon in D - from beginning to end.
Arranged by Sean Grissom | C&P 2006 Endpin Music Publishing (ASCAP). Used with permission.
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Composing the future.
SBOFrom the Trenches
What Music BY BOB MORRISON
long time ago, a very good friend of mine, Tracy Leenman, sent me a note with this incredible and true story. It was so compelling that I realized my own thoughts for this month would be better saved for another day, so that I could share her inspirational
anecdote with you. This is a story that transcends any of our programs – whether they are band, orchestra, general music or, as in this case, choir – to give voice to the intangible intrinsic benefits that go beyond the music lessons and become life lessons each of you share everyday:
n the early 1960s, a young man named Ron Cohen moved from Boston to Long Island in order to teach music at a brand new school, Howard B. Mattlin Junior High School. Three years later, when John F. Kennedy High School opened up right next door to Mattlin, Mr. Cohen became that new school’s first choir director. Over the next thirty years, The Kennedy Choir became legendary, not only in its hometown of Plainview, but across the country. Appearances at New York’s NYSSMA Convention in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s made the Kennedy Choir the only group ever selected to perform at that convention over four successive decades. There were unprecedented performances at back-to-back MENC Eastern Conferences in 1971 (Atlantic City) and 1973 (Boston); In 1995, Ron Cohen was awarded the NY/ACDA Out-
16 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
standing Choral Director Award; and in 1997, he was featured in USA Today as “A Real Mr. Holland.” But far more important than these
accolades was the way that Ron Cohen and The Kennedy Choir impacted
young peoples’ lives through music. The late ‘60s and early ‘70s were tumultuous times for teenagers, but The Choir was a bastion of stability – and discipline – for its members. When schools abandoned dress codes, Mr. Cohen insisted that Choir members still show respect for the school – and for themselves – by dressing neatly; young men, by keeping their hair neatly trimmed. When students went through rough times – socially, emotionally or academically – The Choir was always there to provide stability; to encourage and motivate young performers to focus, to work hard, and to succeed. “Choir was an anchor for students seeking refuge from turbulent times… or turbulent homes,” says one 1973 alum. After the Kent State massacre on May 4, 1970, the entire JFK student body staged a three-day walkout in protest (one of the students that was killed in the
shootings, Jeffrey Glen Miller, had just graduated from Kennedy the summer before; his mother was the principal’s secretary). But Choir members repeatedly crossed the “picket lines” to attend rehearsals for their upcoming concert. Their emotional, standing-ovation performance of Randall Thompson’s Peaceable Kingdom, only a few days after the shootings, was a major force in healing the community; living proof that music can unite and touch souls, even in the face of such terrible tragedy, as nothing else can. At Ron Cohen’s final Choir concert in 1994, over 200 alumni from around the country came back to sing together one last time, a declaration of the powerful effect that music had had on each of their lives. But as it turned out, that concert would not be the last time we’d sing together. This March, a very special event brought 23 Choir alumni to Boston to sing together again – Ron’s mother’s 90th birthday party. Fran Cohen had long been an admirer of The Choir and of her son’s work, and Ron wanted us sing to her as a birthday gift. So, alumni traveled from as far away as California, Idaho, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Long Island, and New Jersey, to spend a weekend together and sing at Fran’s party. The weekend was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to socialize, and to sing some great choral music. But even more so, the weekend was a vibrant testimony to the lasting effect music has on peoples’ lives. We are now doctors, actresses, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, pastors, teachers, musicians, Ph.D.s, M.D.s – a pretty long list of distinguished alumni. But we all had one thing in common to talk about – The Choir. All of us held as our fondest memory of our youth the very same thing – The Choir. All of us had our lives, our goals, and our ideals shaped by the very same thing – The Choir. And within minutes, we were no longer strangers, but once again, close friends. As John Gould, an alumnus from the class of 1970, said, “with a simple hug and hello we were right back to where we left off.” As each of us reflected on the contributions that Choir had made to our lives, we began to understand in a deeper way the importance of school music; and the tragedy that occurs when band, choir and orchestra are not made available to young people who might benefit from
being in music as much as we did. We decided to try to put into words something that is truly intangible, yet also truly meaningful – how our experiences in high school music helped make each of us the people we are today. Please, if you know of a school, an administrator, a parent, or even a colleague, who believes that music is merely “extra-curricular,” is expendable, is something that gets “in the way of ” academics, please have them read what follows. There is no doubt about the lifelong impact music has made on each life . . . or about the impact music has the potential to make on a child’s life when given its proper place in a school’s curriculum:
No activity in high school, including time spent in the classroom, affected me as profoundly as did the choir. Music in high school, by its nature, is poised to provide a unique experience. Of course there is the music itself, but beyond the music there is a bond that goes far beyond simple friendship. The love of the music and of each other defies descriptive words, but for me the richness that the choir experience brought to my life molded me in ways that were unlike any other activity. - John Gould, M.D., Ph.D. (JFK Choir Class of 1970) Surgeon, Assistant Professor of Urology; Davis, Calif. Choir was much more than just making beautiful music. It helped me establish and confirm a set of values to live by: 1) Set the bar high when establishing your goals; 2) Focus and determination will generally make those goals attainable; 3) The group is more important that any one individual; and 4) Love and respect for each other is critical to success. Mr. Cohen was my surrogate father, teaching me
lessons about how to live my life in a positive way. - Jack Yao (JFK Choir Class of 1975) Vice President of Information Technology; Yorkville, Ill. I can say without hesitation that my skills were honed in my high school choir. There I learned a sense of dedication to something far greater than myself, both spiritually, and in the practical sense of blending one voice with many. In this particular Choir, under the direction of Ron Cohen, I discovered my own fierce desire to be the very best I can be, and I met a choir director who demanded that I do just that! Perfect fit! I learned quality comes from hard, hard work; building an infrastructure upon which you can then “dance.” Some where deep in my cell memory is a reminder that all that hard work will pay off, spending the extra hour will make the difference between just getting it done and making it “ring,” and that ahead there will be joy in the job well done. - Robin Young (JFK Choir Class of 1968) Host, Here and Now, WBUR/Boston and PRI (Public Radio International); Boston, Mass. What did choir mean then? Lots of hard work, and at the end of it all, we created something beautiful, that seemed effortless, that has stayed with us all our lives. What did it mean soon after? In college I studied in what was then the Soviet Union. With another singer and a musician (guitarist), we performed for our Soviet counterparts in a number of cities and republics. Although we were all fluent in Russian, we made more friends and connected with more people through the music. After college, I started out my career as a criminal trial attorney, and it may well be that the ability to perform helped me get up in front of juries [I now am a government attorney and serve as an associate director at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in the Division of Enforcement]. What does it mean now? Seeing my children reap the benefits of having music in their lives. Remembering one evening when my teenage son said he felt “cranky,” and that he just needed to play his violin to relax.
School Band and Orchestra, April 2008 17
What has it meant throughout? That my life is richer for the music. But it also is richer because I shared it with unforgettable people like the members of the Kennedy Choir. And, as our recent reunion shows, those bonds will continue throughout our lives… - Antonia Chion (JFK Choir Class of 1972) Attorney, Associate Director US Securities & Exchange Commission; Kingston, Md.
Choir taught me about excellence. Taught me nothing is ever perfect, but one can always make it better. The most important lesson I learned was the power of a group as opposed to the power of the individual. A group, a team, can take you farther than you can go as an individual. This belief was reinforced by my experience at Harvard Business School. We were encouraged to form groups to do casework together. They explained that the collective wisdom of a group can solve a problem, understand
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the challenges faster and better than going it alone I often referred back to my choir experience when teaching and sharing what makes a team happen: expect the best and demand the best each team member can produce . . . and they will. - Howard McNally (JFK Choir Class of 1971) Retired; former Chief Operating Officer, ATT Consumer Division; Manchester Center, Vt. In my current profession as a software engineer, one of my key roles is developing various computer programs. On the surface, a program is a series of instructions intended to enable a computer to solve a problem or perform some task. Beneath the surface, there are a near-infinite number of possible approaches for solving a particular problem. Analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and determining the best solution entails much creativity and is an often rewarding (but sometimes frustrating) experience. Thus it is something of an art form, as is music. Developing a computer program demands a great deal of motivation, discipline, patience, perseverance, and attention to detail – these were the very skills I had acquired through the time I had spent in my choir sectionals years earlier. - Alan Neitlich (JFK Choir Class of 1980) Software Engineer; Smithtown, N.Y. To read all of the powerful testimonials provided by the members of the JFK Choir please visit my blog at www.music-for-all.org/blog/. And be sure to let Tracy know your thoughts as well! You can reach her at: email@example.com.
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Bob Morrison is the Executive Vice President and Chairman Emeritus of Music for All Inc. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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20 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
Connecting with Students through Music Technology Owen Bradley is technically the band director at North Port High School in North Port, Florida, though the title “band director” doesn’t give full credence to the extent of Mr. Bradley’s efforts. More than simply leading the school’s thriving orchestra, marching band, and jazz band, Owen is actually teaching. He’s using music as a medium for exploring a broad range of topics, from co-curricular concepts incorporating other academic subjects to technology and the future of music production.
School Band and Orchestra, April 2008 21
Indeed, this last point is a source of pride for Mr. Bradley, as the integration of modern music technology into his daily classroom routine has enabled him to reach an often unaccounted for segment of North Port High’s student population — the self-driven and selftaught, technologically-savvy kids who in their free time experiment with GarageBand, Reason, Audacity, and similar high-octane music-producing programs. In this SBO interview, Bradley provides some insight into precisely how the latest technology is revolutionizing not only the creation and production of music, but also the role of music educators in this new and rapidly evolving world. School Band & Orchestra: How did you first become involved in music? Owen Bradley: I’ve just known I
was going to be a band director since the 10th grade. SBO: Did you play music prior to that? OB: Yes, I played in elementary school, but I never really got turned on to it until I got to high school. There, I really just caught fire. Something hit me that being a band director was what I wanted to do with my life. I had had some experiences as a student leader, and when I was put in the situation I seemed to have a knack for it. Then I went on to FSU and studied music education. SBO: Can you tell me about your first teaching experience?
OB: I started right out of school. I was an assistant at Southeast High School in Bradenton. I actually got to teach with my former high school band director. It was kind of odd: I went to two different high schools when I was a kid. I started at Port Charlotte High School, where I really got turned on to band and music, and although I ended up graduating from another school, I never lost touch with that first band director. It turned out later that we both applied for jobs at the same program — he as the head and I as the assistant. And we ended up teaching together.
“I’m a music educator, not just a band director.”
SBO: What kind of opportunities did you have while you were still in high school? OB: I was student conducting and was in charge of the brass choir. I would tutor — I wouldn’t call it private lessons because I wasn’t that good, but I’d work one-on-one with kids who needed some help to try to get them to play better. I just loved it. At that point I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do. SBO: Was the opportunity for student mentoring a regular part of your high school music program’s curriculum? OB: Yes, there was a really strong precedent at Port Charlotte High School for student conductors. It was a big deal; every year someone was chosen and I can think of at least one other person who’s moved on from that situation to a success-
Owen Bradley’s Tech Tools at a Glance • Computer recording (Audacity) • Virtual instruments (Sample Tank XL) • GarageBand • Sequencing software (Ableton Live) • Music notation and scanning software (Finale, Sibelius, PhotoScore Professional) with keyboard controllers • Guitar amp modelers (Line 6 PocketPod) • Electronic percussion (Alesis DM5Pro, Korg PadKontrol) On the Web: www.numu.org.uk/station.asp?lngSiteID=1620 Mr. Bradley’s Blog: digitalmusiceducator.wordpress.com 22 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
ful career in music education. It was an honor to direct the band, and it was one of those things we aspired for going through the high school program. I’m currently on the executive board at the FMEA in charge of developing mentoring in Florida. As I was getting my start, help was
always just a phone call away. If I didn’t know what music fit my band, or if I needed someone to come in and rehearse my students, or if I just needed to bounce an idea off of someone, I was able too simply pick up the phone and call my old band director or somebody else in the area who was a respected band director. SBO: I’m sure that help was invaluable. So you finished school and started working as an assistant under your old high school director; what happened next? OB: As an assistant director I was able to get my feet wet in a situation where I had constant feedback. I grew my skill there until I was ready to direct my own program. It was about three years before I went to Bay Shore High School, in the same city, and ran that program on my own. I was there for seven years. After that, I took over the program at Southeast High School when their director left. That program had split — it was a huge school and there was a new high school being built. The administration needed someone to come in and ease the transition. So I went back for another three years to help them through that period. Around that time, a colleague of mine, a former band director who went into administration, called me to say that he was going to be named the principal of North Port High School and he wanted me to be his band director. This meant that I knew two years before the school was even built that I was going to be named to that position and I was go-
ing to help build the school and outfit it and everything. I’ve been in on the ground floor of this school since it opened. SBO: What was it like coming into a situation where there’s no existing program and building it from scratch? OB: [laughs] I always thought that that was something I wanted to do, it was like a dream to do it, but now that I have that experience, I never want to do it again. SBO: Really? Why not? OB: It was so difficult. You have to start all of the traditions. You have to order every piece of equipment. You have to help plan the facility — which is fine — but then your kids come in and in my case, they didn’t have any playing experience whatsoever. I came into my first class and said, “Wow, I’ve got 50 kids in here. That’s wonderful! How many of you play instruments?” About four hands went up. So I said, “Let’s form two lines. Those of you that want to give
band a try, come see me, I’ll take down your name and the instrument you’d like to learn, and if you need a schedule change, go see my assistant, no questions asked.” I got about three quarters of them to stay and I taught them which end to blow in. That was eight years ago. It really started from scratch. Everything that we’ve done here; forging traditions — it’s funny how they start. Something just happens one day, and the next thing you know, it happens again. If it happens twice in a row, it’s a tradition. [laughs] SBO: Sure, high school moves pretty quickly. Would you talk about the current status of the music program at North Port? OB: We consistently earn superior ratings at district and we’ve hosted state festivals three times in the last six years. Our band is up there with the best ones in the state. We started the school with grades 6-10, and added a grade each year. We were initially a JSC band in the Florida
Bandmasters Association classification system, but we moved up the classification and raised our expectations each year, worked on more challenging music all the way up to class A, where we are now. The wind ensemble just made a Superior at the district festival, and the jazz ensemble just missed, though they made it last year. We consistently expect to be on the top and that was something that was never even a thought when we first started this program. Then, it was just like, “Okay guys, we’re going to get through this. Hopefully we don’t fall apart and we can make it to the end of the song.” I remember taking kids onto the field and saying, “Okay, kids, follow me in a straight line,” and I marched with them, walking in front of them, then turned around and had to instruct them, “Now stop here...” Now there’s an expectation that if we go to a competition we’re going to win, place, or show. And if we go to an FEA event, we’re going to get a Superior. If we don’t, we’re disappointed. School Band and Orchestra, April 2008 23
SBO: Another distinctive aspect of your program is that you’ve been integrating music technology into your curriculum, and you have a blog on the subject that you update fairly regularly. When did it first occur to you to bring various elements of technology into your band room? OB: I got my masters in curriculum development with an emphasis in integrating technology in the classroom, so technology is something I’ve always been very interested in. I was even tech-oriented as a kid. When I saw that I could get a degree in something that related my interests in education and technology, I wanted to check it out. I also became involved with a program we have in Sarasota
County called “Next Generation Education” which is all about integrating technology into the classroom. The superintendent of the district read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman, and he was just blown away. As a result, he decided to start an initiative to
“Most music teachers don’t have the time or inclination to learn about what is going on in the music world.”
24 School Band and Orchestra, April 2008
change the way we teach; I’m one of 30 teachers in the district who went through that training, and that just happened to coincide with my degree.
I realized at that point that band directors are not normally seen as teachers; we’re seen as the “band coach.” Not in my situation, necessarily, because my principal is a former band director, but oftentimes, we’re so isolated from the rest of the school and no one comes into our classrooms, so other teachers and staff don’t realize the actual teaching that we do. We’re seen as musicians, and our kids play at football games and concerts, but few people actually see us teach. When I did my methods class as I was getting my masters, it was all about the latest trends in teaching and methodology and research — and brain-based research — so I knew all about the latest relevant ideas in education and I had translated those to my own classroom routines. When I told my colleagues about what was happening in the band room, they were all floored. I’m a music educator, not just a band director. Once they saw that, I decided to take some of their subject matter and integrate it into what I do, which lead to a program here called “Kaleidoscope.” Kaleidoscope is an interdisciplinary curriculum we have which just received an award from the superintendent for integrating the arts in the core curriculum. We were just fascinated to see how we could take the standard concepts that everyone was teaching, link them, and infuse the arts in their curriculum through the whole thing. With the technological end of it, the more technology they used, the more I said, “Well, you know we use recording technology, sample-based sounds, we use smart music,” all this technology that helps us not only do things differently, but do different things. Then I started reading about blogs, and I started one in 2006. I began to get noticed and later formed a partnership with Grove City College up in Pennsylvania and Dr. Joe Pisano. He and I got together and found that we shared similar interests. Pretty soon we were regularly blogging with James Frankel and other movers and shakers. We
all came together and figured that technology-enhanced music education is the way to go. SBO: How does blogging relate to what you do as a music educator? OB: I have a regular thing that I like to do called “bloggable moments,” where if I have a particularly good lesson, especially if it’s technology-infused, I’ll blog about it. For example, we have an interactive whiteboard called an Activeboard in our room. I realized that my class is mostly visual learners so counting out rhythms for them is not really effective because there’s not much to see. And if I draw notes on the board, it’s just not very stimulating. What I did was scan a PDF onto my Activeboard, and projected that in front of the class. I used highlighting to demonstrate exactly where the division of the beat was and it was like my students saw it for the first time — it was electric. I had somebody videotape me giving that lesson, and then I blogged about it and put it on my site. Pretty soon I had educators from all over asking me where I got the equipment and if I could demonstrate this or that.
or something like that, went through music classes, joined an ensemble in middle school, practice, and continue on in high school. Well, through that system, there’s about 80 percent of the school that we as music educators are not serving. With the advent of GarageBand and Audacity, the sequencing and looping programs, kids have access to music on their own. And when they find out that they can make mu-
sic that sounds great without formal training, they want the music to be personal. Some of these kids may play fantastic guitar, but they might not be the least bit interested in joining the orchestra. SBO: I see. So how are you addressing this at your school? OB: This year, there was a great turnout for my second jazz band, but I figured out late that they were all
SBO: So it’s a forum for music educators to share ideas. OB: Exactly. I was surprised that other people were interested in the things I was doing in class because I just found it very natural. I started getting asked questions like, “How’d you do that?” and, “Where did you find those resources?” I find it really validating to get that sort of response from my colleagues. It shows that what I’m doing has some sort of broader value. To be able to talk about things with other music educator… it is just so interesting the way everyone is coming around to the use of technology in education.
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SBO: What do you see as the current technological trends for music educators? OB: The most interesting thing that I’m starting to focus on is reaching the non-traditional music student. The traditional music student is in band, choir, or orchestra. He or she started in elementary school on the recorder
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guitar players and drummers. I started the first class with what turned out to be some great conversations around questions like, “What do you know about music,” and, “Who do you like to listen to and why?” We had a discussion about what makes great music great. I shared my views and the students shared theirs, and we found the commonalities. That really broke the ice. From there, I tried to figure out where the kids were musically and then tried to fill in the gaps. I had them bring in their guitars and drumsticks and play for me. I was shocked at how well they played, but they had absolutely no idea what they were doing. They could read some tablature and they understood that if they listened to a song and put their fingers in the right spot, it would eventually sound right, but they had to do it over and over again. I asked them if they knew anything about standard notation, and they said, “What’s that?” When I told them
it was things like half notes and whole notes, they said, “Oh, I don’t want to learn that!” But once they saw that traditional notation is way more versatile and thorough than tablature ever could be — as far as pitch duration, inflection and all that sort of thing — they were turned on. I just had to come at it in a roundabout way. The class is project-based, where the students can pick any song they want, an original or a cover, and our goal is to record their progress. Pretty soon there were questions on how to play certain parts, which led to discussions about tempo and questions about how to play parts together, which sparked other topics like note length and duration. It has blossomed into this student-lead music discovery class. One interesting side note is that I had never a kid miss class, ever. If they were sick, they came to class. They were never late. They came
“If you engage kids and give them something that they’re going to be interested in doing, you can’t help but increase their productivity.”
School Band and Orchestra, April 2008 27
right in and got to work, and I felt like I was running from group to group to help them out and answer their questions. SBO: It sounds like your plan was simply to meet them on their level. OB: Yes, and that’s something that many of these kids have never had before. As band directors, we tend to be the fountains of knowledge. We stand on that podium and dispense information: this is out of tune, here’s how you fix it, here’s the proper fingering. What we aren’t realizing is that today everyone has equal access to all the information. With today’s technology, we’re no longer the gatekeepers; the information is out there. We’ve just got to guide students in the right direction. We’ve got to take their natural curiosity and say, “Okay, if you’re curious about this, here are some resources. Go find out, and check back with me.” That’s been my approach with
that class, and the response has been just tremendous — kids are beating the doors down to join us. I get these long-haired, pierced, tattooed kids coming up to me asking, “Are you Mr. Bradley?” When I say yes and ask why they want to know, they respond, “Are you gonna be offering that class next year?” I’m reaching kids that want to learn about music, but they don’t want to play “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.” And this is made possible through technology. In traditional music education, everyone sings or plays a band or orchestra instrument. Even most non-traditional music offerings are centered on guitar, percussion, voice, or combinations of those instruments. The real draw should be to have students create music that they identify with, which happens to be electronic music at this time in history. Years ago, music programs were “cool” if they allowed students to play “Proud Mary” or the Beatles on acoustic guitars. Not so any-
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more, as our students and the tools they use have become more sophisticated. Unfortunately, most music teachers don’t have the time or inclination to learn about what is going on in the music world; it’s changing so rapidly that we cannot possibly keep up. We must partner with our students to learn from each other — they share with us what is “cool” and “hip” thereby keeping us in touch with trends in popular music, and we share with them what makes great music great, no matter the genre. When my students see the same tools being used in school that they are using to make music at home, it creates a level of engagement that would not normally exist. SBO: What kind of obstacles have you run up against as far as integrating these new tools into your curriculum? It sounds like your administration has been extraordinarily receptive to the concept. OB: It’s tremendously expensive to purchase software and equipment, and it wasn’t easy to convince people
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to spend that money. Some of the kids in my program are categorized â€œlower performingâ€? â€” theyâ€™re ESE or levelone FCAT kids who are disengaged and may have problems coming to school or discipline issues elsewhere. Because of this, it was a really hard sell for me to say that we were going to put a $3,000 computer or a $50,000 piano lab at their disposal. I had to really do my research and plead my case to the assistant superintendent in a meeting my principal helped me set up. I brought together my findings and some examples of what we were doing in class, said, â€œLook at the students that weâ€™re serving.â€? That seemed to strike a chord, because the administration was very interested in increasing student achievement. My point was that if you engage kids and give them something that theyâ€™re going to be interested in doing, you canâ€™t help but increase their productivity. When I showed the assistant superintendent my data â€” attendance, time on task â€” he was floored. I said, â€œNow weâ€™ve got the studentsâ€™ attention, they see that we value them, and so we need to invest in them.â€? In the end, the assistant superintendent found an extra almost $6,000 and said, â€œGet what you need. Hereâ€™s the money.â€? But it took a lot of convincing. SBO: What a boon for you and your students. One more question: What drives you as a music educator right now? What gets you out of bed in the morning? OB: Iâ€™ve got a great band pro-
gram and weâ€™re doing wonderful things with that, but, interestingly enough, this little weird class that was supposed to be a second jazz band, then a guitar class and a drum class, and has kind of morphed into something elseâ€Ś helping those students â€” many of whom I never would have expected to think twice about if I saw them in the hallway â€” become excited about music really gets me going.
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