Page 1

January 2013 • $5.00

Elizabeth and Jonathan Handman

B uilding Excitement for Strings

Performance: Improvisation in the Orchestral Setting

at New York’s Arlington High School Orchestras

Survey: Electric Strings

Report: Music Instrument Foundations

Enlisting Corporate Assistance

W

ith ongoing fiscal uncertainty in districts, cities, and states across the U.S., music programs can’t receive

too much assistance. Fortunately, help is out there, and in many places, some more visible than others. While the majority of school music programs focus their fundraising efforts on the typical campaigns – selling fruit, candy, spaghetti dinners, and so on – many musical instrument manufacturing and distribution companies have set up foundations to assist educators and music program in a number of ways, from providing instruments to intensive training workshops, along with grants and other opportunities. Sometimes these grants come directly from the company, whereas other times these companies use their foundation arms to assist more well-known grant-giving entities, like VH1 Save the Music, the NAMM Foundation, and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, among others.

12

NEW, SBO iPad APP NOW AVAILABLE

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


January 2013

20 Jon Handman

It’s about life lessons as much as anything – the discipline you learn and the concept of being part of a group and a community.

Performance: Improvisation

Improvising in Concert Bands and Orchestras

Contents

By Christian Barnhard II

T

eachers of traditional concert bands and orchestras often consider improvisation as an activity

Features

blues, and other modes. These activities should be related to performance literature as often as possible, leading naturally into opportunities for further improvisation. For example, select an eight-measure

Guest Editorial: Rosewood

reserved for jazz settings. Having limited or non-

existent personal experience as improvisers, they often feel uncomfortable teaching improvisation, and believe that it skill and knowledge. Furthermore, as leaders of ensembles

excerpt in major mode and help students determine basic harmonic structure of tonic and dominant chords. Many excerpts of concert band and orchestra literature can be simplified to these

pendix II will not be made until after

Maintain control of your instrument inventory and repairs… listing that would usually apply to all

still plays!

strate that the wood has been sustain-

intended for two markets: those that

range states where the trees grow), inThese instruments are generally less Walking Bird Music easy-to-use ternationaloffers trade is still permitted but expensive than rosewood, although paperwork is required demonthat is not always the case. They were two repairmore forms for yourtouse.

ably sourced. The # areas are dangerous can ill-afford their more expensive 1. The musical instrument repair form (part MINP) is perfect and since this areaand of usable rosewood cousins, and for outdoor for directors who prefer to to work write in theinspect “work-to-be-done” Central America experiences a high use. I will revisit this “theme” a bit later for any instrument.

Chasing an Answer

whose primary focus is “re-creative” performance, these teachers often express concern that improvisation will take

too much time from the development of traditional instrument technique and literature preparation.

16 16

However, beginning with very accessible activities, improvisation can be used as a teaching tool to enhance traditional instruction, while simultaneously allowing opportunities for musical exploration, creativity, and collaboration. The purpose of this article is to introduce ideas that can be readily used in both structured and free improvisation contexts.

“Starting with rhythmic improvisation allows students to focus on manipulating a single element of music.”

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

By James Moyer, DMA

F

or those of us who are percussionists, rosewood has always been the standard of sound and

rate of # violent crime. As a“work-to-be-done” result, illegal in the article. While these instruments 2. The second repair form (part GRP) has the already takes for place there.and other offer an alternative to Dalbergia steprelisted in an organizedlogging and concise format guitars Guatemala is roughly sizein of vensonii for keyboards, the quality of string instruments . The form also has blank lines tothe write additional repairs or other instruments. Virginia, but this type of rosewood is sound is nowhere near that of wood. found partsparts of the BeBoth forms use carbonless only paper, havein3 full andcounty. 2 product lize, where theyour highest concentrations ID Stubs. Both forms are available with are, isPlease no larger than New Jersey. ConSCHOOL OR SHOP IMPRINT. go to sider that there our website: walkingbirdmusic.com toare no less than a dozen companies, both large and small, that review our entire product line. Our toll free number is 1 800 525 8247 have been building marimbas and xy-

The truth is, professional percussionists and college percussion programs almost exclusively purchase rosewood instruments. The science of analysis and discovery has certainly evolved since Jack lophones for decades. And this does Deagan began searching for other alnot account for SEE now defunct compaternatives in the last century. Keyboard nies like Deagan and Leedy, who were percussion companies have been reSAMPLE FORM building these instruments THIS PAGE for 100 searching and testing other woods and years or more. To be fair, Dalbergia composites for years. They are all well stevensonii is also used for other inaware that Dalbergia stevensonii is “on struments VA like23173 high end guitars, string the clock” and its availability shrinks Walking Bird, RC Box 1688, Richmond, instrument fingerboards as well as each year. Government oversight and 1-800-525-8247 • Fax: 804-285-8247 expensive furniture and carvings like forest certification processes could atWALKINGBIRDMUSIC.COM bowls and various wood working crafts tempt to manage this resource. And as seen School below. Band and Orchestra • January 2013 while 17 that would be good, it will increase the price of rosewood, perhaps qualsignificantly.

ity for marimba and xylophone keyboards. For music teachers that are non-percussionists, you

How about other woods?

may not be aware of the vanishing act that has been occurring with this valuable resource. Com-

monly known as Honduras Rosewood, Dalbergia stevensonii is a rare and dwindling species that grows

16 Performance: Improvisation

only in Central America and has been the single best choice for marimba and xylophone companies since the early days of J. C. Deagan in the late 1880s. Its amazing ability to produce a full and lush musical tone when cut and tuned is simply unmatched.

Introducing improvisation skills into the orchestral setting is both easy to do and quite beneficial, using these exercises presented by SBO contributor Christian Bernhard.

20 UpClose: Jon & Liz Handman The reigning ASTA National Orchestra Festival Grand Champion ensemble hails from New York’s Arlington High School Orchestra program, which is led by the brother-sister team of Jon and Liz Handman. The duo recently spoke with SBO about building excitement for strings and musical success in their community.

32 Survey: Electric Strings Band and orchestra directors weigh in on the usage and implementation of electric string instruments in traditional and non-traditional school ensembles.

36 Guest Editorial: Rosewood Dr. James Moyer of Texas A&M International University looks for solutions to the dwindling supply of rosewood, a natural resource that plays a huge part in musical instrument manufacturing.

39 Technology: Alternative Music John Kuzmich and Rick Dammers examine alternative course offerings, facilitated by music technology, to reach students outside of the traditional band/orchestra/choir curriculum. 2

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

and is seemingly unaffected by weath-

the CITES Conference of the Parties er. I’ve actually seen instruments where BAND/ORCHESTRA DIRECTORS… in March 2013. Under Appendix II (a the bar is practically split in two and

The Rosewood Forest:

must immediately involve highly complex decision making

12 Report: MI Foundations Many musical instrument manufacturers offer abundant resources for music educators, from grants to training programs.

Students come to concert band and orchestra rehearsals from the primarily structured environment of other school classes and activities. They have become accustomed to right and wrong answers, and usually crave some level of organization and teacher direction. While music can offer a unique opportunity for emotional exploration, it is often good to begin improvisation activities with a sense of structure, taking students from known to unknown experiences. Starting with rhythmic improvisation allows students to focus on manipulating a single element of music. Using a unison pitch, such as a standard tuning note, allow students to create rhythm combinations and articulations within the parameters of a specific meter or set of pre-selected rhythms. This activity offers the dual benefit of encouraging creativity while still warming instruments and bodies, and reinforcing proper playing position, intonation, and tone quality. As an alternative to the usual drill of unison scales and exercises, next allow students to improvise within the structure of activities such as riffs, calls and responses, and drones. For example, a two-measure unison riff in common time can be repeated by the entire ensemble (reinforcing traditional techniques such as bowing and articulation), alternating with two-measure improvisations of any pitches in a major scale. A call and response improvisation reinforcing traditional concepts such as cut-time and minor tonality can be developed with a two-measure call starting on tonic and ending on any other scale degree, followed by a two-measure response starting on any scale degree and ending on tonic. Drones are often helpful for establishing sound intonation and practicing proper balance and blend. Have half of the ensemble hold a tonic pitch while the other students improvise melodies using scale pitches. If the resulting sound is too cumbersome, ask some students to sing, or allow smaller groups to take turns improvising. Avoiding solo improvisations at this point, however, allows players to have safety in numbers such that they will be more likely to take risks in their decision making and musical development. In addition to major and minor tonalities, students should have opportunities to improvise in scales such as pentatonic,

Did you know?

36

Fresh Honduras Rosewood at the mill.

36

What you may not know is we are in danger of losing this wood in the future. And while research has been conducted by many marimba companies to find a worthy substitute, nothing significant has been found to date. Dalbergia stevensonii grows mainly in the tropical forests of Belize (formerly the British Honduras, hence the common name of the wood), parts of Gua-

An example of rosewood furniture.

temala and the very south of Mexico. Currently, the species is included in the CITES Appendix III list, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. CITES has three levels of classification for at risk or endangered species. This inclusion actually only applies to the forests of Guatemala, not Belize where most of the harvesting occurs. A decision on Belize’s proposal for inclusion of the species under Ap-

What about synthetics? You can find synthetic percussion keyboards in most band rooms across the country. These come under various names: Musser uses Kelon, Yamaha’s name is Acoustalon, Zelon is used by Adams, and Ross used the name Prolon (recently acquired by Majestic). No matter the name, the formulas are essentially fiberglass with a secret mix of other chemicals. The bars are artificially colored and produce a tuned pitch when struck. This material is very durable, generally stays in tune

The research of investigating alternative woods has been in place for a long time. This involves many scientific factors, which most of the builders of these instruments cannot afford or have access to. Plus, testing other woods sacrifices valuable shop time and is expensive. First, we need to fully understand the hardness (Janka scale), chemistry, botanical structure, physical characteristics, density, specific gravity, moisture content, and the mechanical properties (Young’s Modulus) of Dalbergia stevensonii. That data would be used as a reference standard. A large pool of human resources that includes scientists, wood engineers, suppliers, and expert builders to test other woods would be required to fully exhaust any potential rosewood substitutes. Other types of rosewood have already been tried, and

School Band and Orchestra • January 2012

some are more expensive and harder to find. So far, nothing is even close to the tone qualities of Dalbergia stevensonii. There is one wood, from Africa, that is being used as a low cost alternative for beginner and “school” instruments. Padauk is much softer than the rosewood currently in use. On the Janka scale of wood hardness, it measured at 1,725, compared to the Honduras rosewood at 2,200. As a reference, Southern Red Oak is 1,060 and English Walnut is 1,210. For fun at your next Scrabble party, the softest wood we know of is Quipo, which is a mere 22 on the Janka scale. The hardest wood is Buloke Australian, which comes in at an almost quartz-hard 5,060!

A five-octave rosewood marimba (courtesy of DeMorrow Instruments).

There are thousands of species of trees in the world. Given the scale of research needed to find some alternative wood, certain limitations need to be in place to realistically narrow the search before Dalbergia stevensonii can no longer be used. The range talked about, among some organizations to conserve and protect the species, is anywhere from five to 10 years. However, if this wood moves to CITES Appendix I in the future, its availability will be very limited if at all.

What can we do about it? Earlier, there was a reference to synthetic bar instruments, which have been produced and sold for decades. The savvy teacher or percussionist can find good quality rosewood instruments for less than the synthetic alternatives. But, rosewood marimbas and even those of padauk, should stay indoors. The unfortunate abuse of rosewood marimbas and xylophones comes from ill-advised use for drum corps and marching bands. Even in nice weather, the sun alone will dry out and crack these bars in

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

37

Columns 4

Perspective

53 Playing Tip

6

Headlines

54 Classifieds

48 New Products

56 Ad Index

Cover photo by Arnie Adler, New York, N.Y. Survey: Streaming Video

Get Your FREE SBO iPad edition at the App Store

“We make videos of our marching band and audio recordings of our concert bands. Parents are asked to video their child’s section during our shows. I ask for a zoom and wide angle variety to highlight needs for improvements. Each week there is an evening rehearsal inside our stadium that is open to the parents. They learn our concerns in the show and then know where to record. They post to YouTube and send me a link. It works quite well.” Bob Beshears Garland High School Garland,79% Texas Yes “Matters related to confidentiality and privacy keep me Yes 79% from trying this avenue.” No Cheryl Cornish 21% Clancy Scool District Clancy, Mont. No 21%

The Audience

Do you upload those performances to the web?

Yes videos 21% “We make available – some public for everyone to view and some private for only the band members so that YesYes they can critique their 79%to im21%performance and look for ways prove. This is especially helpful with marching band perfor79% No mances because the view (movement/drill) is so important from an audience’s standpoint.” No 21% Jan 79%Hare No Delphos St. John’s High School Delphos, Ohio I don’t worry about it

he people seated in the concert hall or the stands of a football field will always be the primary audience for a musical performance. However, with advances in modern technology, musical events can now reach across the globe, and in real time. From

simple set-ups like video chat or Skype to sophisticated usage of cameras, routers, and other equipment, there is a wide array of possibilities for sharing performances far and wide. Of course, there are challenges with broadcasting video, including equipment, expertise, and

“I don’t want to deal with any of the copyright issues. The 24% I don’t worry about it Web has made many things for us in music very easy, but I Yes 33% worry about thesure effect it has onlicenses abuse of the copyright laws.” I make I24% have all the Kurt Stalmann 14% Santana High School I make sure I have all the licenses 67%Santee, Calif. No I don’t 14% load performances online because of this issue

the time and effort involved with setting it all up. On top of that, concerns about copyrights are enough to prevent some school groups from making the dive. Do you make video recordings of your ensembles’ performances?

79%

21%

No

Assuming you want to, do you have the ability and capaI don’t load performances online this issue 62% bility to stream performances live,because in realoftime? 63% 62% 21% Yes

0-$250

$250-$500

15%

$500-$1,000

4%

79%

No

40

School Band and Orchestra • November 2012

33%

Yes

$1,000+

24%

18%

I make sure I have all the licenses

14% I don’t load performances online because of this issue

21%

Yes

62%

79%

No

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. 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 © 2013 by Symphony Publishing, LLC, all rights reserved. Printed in USA. I don’t worry about it

24%

I make sure I have all the licenses

14%

I don’t load performances online because of this issue

62%

15%

$500-$1,000

4%

4% 18%

“Without paying fees, the advertisements on the streaming site are not always appropriate for families with young children, or any children for that matter. Sound is a challenge – streaming through the laptop doesn’t allow me to mix the 0-$250 63% concert prior to the performance. I also need someone who can run the equipment or I just leave it streaming through the whole concert, shifting bands around, preconcert stuff, and so on. It can be pretty boring viewing that way, but it can be $250-$500 15% edited after the fact if someone wants to see archived copies.” Steve Stenzel Lake Zurich Middle School North Lake Zurich, Ill. $500-$1,000 4% “Acquiring the laptop, camera, and cables was our biggest challenge (to our budget). Once obtained, it was very easy!” Peter Crosta $1,000+ 18% Orange Township Public Schools Orange, N.J. “Having a person on the camera/computer who is very comfortable with the technology involved.” Brad Thew Viroqua MS/HS Viroqua, Wis. “Making sure there are adequate broadband speeds on both ends, and sound quality.” Andrew Vickers Central Middle School DeWitt, Iowa School Band and Orchestra • November 2012

I don’t worry about it

67%

No

63% 15%

$250-$500 $250-$500

$1,000+ 18% What are the biggest challenges associated with streaming video online?

67%

No

63%

0-$250 0-$250

$1,000+

67%

No

T

Yes

If yes, how expensive was the cost of implementing that capacity/equipment?

$500-$1,000

33%

Yes

Beyond the Auditorium

For a closer look at how school groups are currently using video and streaming capabilities with their ensembles, this recent SBO survey asked readers to weigh in on this very 21st-century topic. And with almost 80 percent of respondents indicating that they shoot video of their performances, stay tuned, as the nature of this conversation is sure to evolve over the next few years.

“Our district does not presently have the infrastructure to support such an endeavor.” Tom Crawford Emily Gray Jr. High Tucson, Ariz.

33%

Yes

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Perspective

The Fight for Music Is it finally working? Is all of the research that has continued to pour in suggesting that students who play instruments are generally more successful at a wide range of academic topics finally being recognized? It seems that many parents who are focused on their children’s education are, no doubt, taking this information to heart and enrolling their kids in school music programs, private lessons, and even independent music schools. However, in the USA we appear to be in a cycle of the strong getting stronger while the weak fade away. Statistically, it appears that the divide between quality schools and those who are facing economic challenges seems to be getting worse, as many inner city schools are physically crumbling while their students slip further behind in a variety of academic subjects. Obviously, parents who may not have the wherewithal or means to provide their kids with music lessons or the equipment needed to enroll in a school music program are missing out on the opportunity to enhance their children’s opportunities and prospects for a solid education, even a more successful future. Although we don’t have a “99 percent”-type problem in the distribution of music programs, there are a significant percentage of schools at the bottom of the income scale where students don’t have access to music education. Take, for example, the city of Chicago, which was recently in the news for a highly publicized teacher strike: 42 percent of their elementary schools don’t have funding for a full time art or music teacher “We appear to be in (per thinkprogress.org). This means that nearly half of a cycle of the strong the kids in those schools won’t get regular exposure to getting stronger while music. It’s difficult to imagine this fact when driving through this world-class city, which is home to some the weak fade away.” of the highest skyscrapers in the world, as well as some of the most powerful corporations. Yet, too many little kids in the greater Chicago area won’t get the opportunity to enhance their education with music! There are some bright spots on the horizon, especially with fledgling programs like El Sistema USA, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, VH1 Save the Music, and other similar organizations. These programs are focused on the problems of reaching children in underserved areas who would normally not have access to music in their schools. We are also very fortunate that NAMM, one of our most important music industry organizations, has a presence in Washington that continually pushes for music education in the schools. Still, when you consider that 58 percent of all Americans will spend one year or more under the poverty line – in other words, over 150 million people, as noted by J.S. Hacker in The Great Risk Shift: The New Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream – the task that these organizations face is daunting, if not seemingly impossible. We turn to our leaders, along with our own continued grassroots efforts, to make the changes in overall education that will hopefully ensure better educational opportunities for our children, including access to music instruction. And so we need to continue to inform our local, state, and national leadership that students who are engaged in music education generally have greater success in life and are better equipped to contribute to society than those who go without such opportunities.

®

January 2013 • Volume 16, Number 1 GROUP PUBLISHER Sidney L. Davis sdavis@symphonypublishing.com PUBLISHER Richard E. Kessel rkessel@symphonypublishing.com Editorial EXECUTIVE EDITOR Christian Wissmuller cwissmuller@symphonypublishing.com EDITOR Eliahu Sussman esussman@symphonypublishing.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Matt Parish mparish@symphonypublishing.com Art PRODUCTION MANAGER Laurie Guptill lguptill@symphonypublishing.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Andrew P. Ross aross@symphonypublishing.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Laurie Chesna lchesna@symphonypublishing.com Advertising ADVERTISING SALES Iris Fox ifox@symphonypublishing.com ADVERTISING SALES Matt King mking@symphonypublishing.com CLASSIFIED SALES Steven Hemingway shemingway@symphonypublishing.com Business CIRCULATION MANAGER Melanie A. Prescott mprescott@symphonypublishing.com

Symphony Publishing, LLC CHAIRMAN Xen Zapis

PRESIDENT Lee Zapis lzapis@symphonypublishing.com CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Rich Bongorno rbongorno@symphonypublishing.com Corporate Headquarters 26202 Detroit Road, Suite 300 Westlake, Ohio 44145 (440) 871-1300 www.symphonypublishing.com Publishing, Sales, & Editorial Office 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1 Needham, MA 02494 (781) 453-9310 FAX (781) 453-9389 1-800-964-5150 www.sbomagazine.com

Member 2013

Join the conversation on:

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School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

Rick Kessel rkessel@symphonypublishing.com

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three maraderie. These are the Confidence. Character. Ca fidence con rming Arts program. The tenets of the Disney Perfo uired to of stages. The character req to perform on the grandest essential And the camaraderie that’s perfect your chosen craft. part And when your group takes to come together as a team. a in t’s tha ts program– whether in a Disney Performing Ar they lls ski the p or festival– these are performance or a worksho ive lus ne, becoming part of an exc will learn, sharpen and refi e this shared once-in-a-lifetim group of artists bonded by e Arts. Th For rs Ea r you means to earn it at wh is is Th ce. en eri exp ir Ears for has what it takes to earn the So if you think your group 095. 5-4 -71 planner or call 1-866 the Arts, contact your travel

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Headlines Join SBO at NAMM ’13!

SBO magazine is seeking educators to participate in the fourth annual Best Tools for Schools presentation at the NAMM Show in Anaheim California, January 25-27, 2013. Music educators and school administrators attending the show are encouraged to pick up a ballot from the SBO booth, and then walk the convention floor in search of the best products for music classroom use in a number of categories relevant to school music programs. SBO is also looking for individuals interested in being on the panel that will help select and present the Best Tools for Schools at a presentation at the NAMM Idea Center on Sunday, Jan 27th. Anyone who would like to participate is encouraged to contact SBO editor Eliahu Sussman at esussman@symphonypublishing.com for more information.



www.sbomagazine.com/resources/tools-for-schools



6

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

The Eastman School of Music professor and Brighton, N.Y. resident David Higgs was recently awarded is awarded St. Malachy’s – The Actors’ Chapel’s Paul Creston Award for his contributions to the organ music community. The award was presented in November at the Beacon Theatre in New York City during a Voices United Benefit Concert. The award is said to be awarded to those who “embody excellence in the arts and are significant figures in church music, media, and the performing arts.” Higgs has performed at Christmas concerts in both San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. He also regularly appears at events throughout the world, including the International Organ Festivals and Competitions of Bremen, Calgary, Dublin, and more. He has also served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and is now chair of the Organ Department at the Eastman School of Music.

www.esm.rochester.edu



A record 51 college students pursuing careers in the music products industry are making plans to attend the 2013 NAMM Show having received the NAMM Foundation’s President’s Innovation Award. Cash grants of $600 are awarded to graduate and undergraduate students who have expressed commitment and aptitude for business leadership and innovation in the music products industry. Recipients hail from colleges across the country, including the University of Colorado at Denver, Northeastern University, University of Miami, Indiana State University, and more. Students will convene in Anaheim, Calif. from Jan. 24-27 to explore careers in the music industry by learning firsthand from industry leaders in sessions designed just for students and with access to retailers and manufacturers from around the world attending the NAMM Show. The President’s Innovation Award recipients also participate in the NAMM Generation Next program. The program offers daily educational sessions and volunteer opportunities with leading music product and pro-light and sound brands during the trade show. College music majors interested in registering for the “NAMM Generation Next” collegiate program can RSVP at www.namm.org.

Eastman School Professor Higgs Awarded for Excellence

LudwigMasters to Distribute Lake State Publications

LudwigMasters recently announced that it will now distribute Lake State Publications. All Lake State Publications pieces can now be ordered through LudwigMasters Publications.

www.ludwigmasters.com



NAMM Foundation President’s Award Recipients to Attend 2013 Show


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Headlines Brooklyn Music School Hits 100 Years to by expanding after-school classes and developing a summer institute that included morning classes and afternoon educational trips. The school’s executive director, Frank Alvarado, also instituted a new program called “Arts Reaching Youth,” designed to instruct children in singing and dance at low tuitions. He says the program has helped the school’s enrollment grow from 100 students per year to over 250 per year, as he’s seen over the last three years. The music school also rents its 1924 playhouse to theater schools like the Brooklyn Children’s Theater in efforts to raise funds for a projected building restoration. www.brooklynmusicschool.org



In a testament to a neighborhood’s dedication and generations of hard work, the Brooklyn Music School celebrated its 100th anniversary this past December. The school’s mission throughout: to grant access to the performing arts to anyone. The Brooklyn Music School has maintained a policy of open enrollment, meaning anyone can register at any time during class sessions. The school says that more than 200 students every year enroll at the school for music and dance classes. It was founded in 1912 with the explicit goal of helping “the poor, the blind . . . the handicapped.” By 2009, the school faced mounting difficulties with debt, which it responded

Berklee Releases ‘Music Careers in Dollars and Cents’

8

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

fessional music organizations and associations are also new, along with artist revenue trends with information from the Future of Music Coalition’s recent survey. The study shows salaries trending upwards for certain positions (Orchestral Musician, Assistant Professor, Public Relations Specialist), while others are seeing a decline (Commercial Jingle Composer, A&R Representative, Music Education Administrator). Some changes are due to more comprehensive data collection, but market factors are also at work. “It’s important to remember, despite our best research efforts, all salaries represent only ranges, dependent on numerous variables,” said Peter Spellman, director of Berklee’s Career Development Center. “Music Careers in Dollars and Cents” also includes an expanded Emerging Career Paths section highlighting current positions that are expected to experience continued growth in the coming years. These titles include Mobile Music App Developer, Social Media Manager, Integrated Marketing, Content Acquisition, Audio Advertising Producer, Online Video Music Teacher, and Creative Arts Therapist.

In addition to emerging careers, the study covers a broad range of more traditional music-related fields, including orchestral, Broadway, and studio musician – with information on union rates and scales; choir director; arranger; conductor; instrument maker; A&R representative; artist manager; music attorney; live sound; record producer and engineer; audiologist; and music teacher. www.berklee.edu/studentlife/cdc.html



Berklee College of Music has updated its comprehensive directory of salary ranges for U.S. music positions including performance, business, audio technology, education, and music therapy. First released in 2010, “Music Careers in Dollars and Cents” has been revised to keep up with a constantly changing industry. New features include updated salary and job information; and more detailed salary ranges for many positions, such as TV and Film Score Composer, Music Supervisor, and Songwriter/Lyricist. Job titles like Video Game Composer, Film Score Conductor, and Concert Hall Manager that were not included in the previous edition have been added. A flowchart on negotiating a job offer and a resources section that includes pro-

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50 YEARS LATER, VIC IS STILL ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC.

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Report: Music Instrument Foundations

Enlisting Corporate Assistance

W

ith ongoing fiscal uncertainty in districts, cities, and states across the U.S., music programs can’t receive

too much assistance. Fortunately, help is out there, and in many places, some more visible than others. While the majority of school music programs focus their fundraising efforts on the typical campaigns – selling fruit, candy, spaghetti dinners, and so on – many musical instrument manufacturing and distribution companies have set up foundations to assist educators and music program in a number of ways, from providing instruments to intensive training workshops, along with grants and other opportunities. Sometimes these grants come directly from the company, whereas other times these companies use their foundation arms to assist more well-known grant-giving entities, like VH1 Save the Music, the NAMM Foundation, and Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, among others.

12

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


“The D’Addario Foundation was established 30 years ago as the not-forprofit arm of D’Addario & Company,” says Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, executive director of the D’Addario Foundation. “It started as a concert series to support young artists, but the organization has evolved many times over the years. Now we have a very focused mission of supporting organizations that are not only deeply committed to music education, but also to the belief that mentoring and building communities through music can positively affect social change. The way that it works for us is that we have two basic areas of focus. Our core mission is to support community-based not-for-profits that are providing music instruction and sustainable quality programming in under-served areas. That accounts for about 80 percent of our giving. The remaining 20 percent of our giving is dedicated to the classical guitar market. Part of that goes to a performance series that we run at Carnegie’s Wyle Hall, where we’re presenting the next generation of talented young artists, but the majority of it goes to supporting international guitar festivals and programs that have a very strong educational component to them.” She continues, “What we’re trying to do as a foundation is really offset those areas that are missing from schools and music education. In under-served areas that have really limited instrumental instruction, some of the programs that we support will actually bring instruction and instruments into the school and either support existing teachers or bring artists and teachers to create a sort of an in-school residency, where children are getting instruction either during or after school. This can basically establish a pretty impactful music education program in a school where it didn’t previously exist, or maybe in a way that it will supplement the school’s offerings.” Another prominent grant giver, The Fender Music Foundation, supports an array of music education programs, including specialized instruction initiatives like Guitars in the Classroom (a supplemental in-school guitar curriculum), Music in Schools Today (an organization that seeks to help at-risk youths through percussion, world music, and movement classes in schools

and community centers), as well as more traditional school band and orchestra programs that meet the Foundation’s criteria for need. To date, the Fender Music Foundation has awarded grants to 59 school music programs, 50 community music programs, and 37 music therapy programs.

Getting Noticed For educators who might think there’s a fit with some of the services

and opportunities that grant-giving organizations offer, one key to getting noticed is being able to tell the story of what they hope to achieve – the fundamental goals of the music education program. “It’s also really vital that we get an understanding of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis: how many children are receiving instruction, how many hours a week, do they take instruments home, what happens in the summer time, and so on,” recommends

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D’Addario Brouder. “We’re interested in creating music makers. We want these programs to have a deep impact, but also reach a significant number of participants. It sounds challenging, but there are a significant number of organizations that are achieving that goal.”

Mariah Scoble, the executive director of the Fender Music Foundation, suggests that educators go to her organization’s website, www.fendermusicfoundation.org, review the criteria, and then follow the instructions closely to be considered for grants. Scoble notes,

“We approve applicants based on the criteria we have and how we would rank them against each other, and then we send out instruments to those programs that are approved, based what is available from our inventory.”

Recent Changes In Grant Giving

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As the economy soured in 2008, many of these organizations have seen an increase in demand for their resources. “There is a much higher level of need for these community-based, independent music programs because school programs have been facing cuts,” D’Addario Brouder affirms. “That isn’t something that existed as strongly before. A lot of times, the very first sentence we read in an application is that very statement. Because of that, we have evolved our mission to focus on supporting those efforts. It’s a shame what’s happening in schools with music and arts. We’re trying as best we can to help offset those cuts as best we can. There are also opportunities for educators if they want to start a guitar program or ukulele instruction program or something that can D’Addario Brouder augment or Suzanne of the D’Addario Foundation. expand the offerings at the school. We help provide opportunities to bring these specialized organizations into the school. If there is an educator who is dedicated and committed to bringing in one of these instruction programs – who is willing to lead the project – then they tend to be very successful.” Even though many companies in the Music Instrument industry have a particular area of focus, oftentimes the charitable branches of those companies have a much broader scope than some might expect. For example, the D’Addario Foundation is fighting the misconception that its organization is solely focused on guitar programs. “Especially through the foundation, we really like to diversify our support and make sure that we are assisting string programs, band, bluegrass, percussion


– all different forms of music,” says D’Addario Brouder. “We have also been really involved with El Sistema-type programs in the past few years. There are many of these small organizations that are popping up, usually led by Abreu Fellows who have studied at

“It doesn’t matter if they play our instruments or not – we just want to know how we can help further education.”

as high as seven percent. We’re really dedicated to giving back to the music community. I’m not sure that that many people are really aware of that, because we’ve been doing it pretty quietly for the past 30 years or so.” Part of that is certainly due to the altruism that is so prevalent among those who love music, but there’s also a reciprocal relationship at play: Healthy music education programs create new

musicians who purchase music products, keeping the product manufacturers healthy and who, in turn, give back to music education programs. It is truly a case where, when the system works, everyone involved wins. A comprehensive listing of organizations that offer grants and resources for school music programs can be found online at www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/resources/grants.html.

the New England Conservatory – but not always – and talk about a deeply impactful program! They’re bringing a five or six-day-a-week orchestral string programs into schools, and that has a huge effect. The schools that they go into might have a small music instruction program, or maybe not, but we’ve been really impressed with the way that they function and the purpose that they serve. They teach a lot of music, and that’s great, but they also create a safe haven for kids in under-served communities, who might not have anywhere else to go. These programs give kids a sense of belonging. That’s a good example of something that we’ve been focusing our efforts on, and there are quite a few of these organizations that are working under the El Sistema model.”

A Reciprocal Relationship While many charitable organizations are able to enhance available resources, grants, and charitable gifts through fundraising, Musical Instrument manufacturers tend to fund their giving solely by donating a portion of their profits to those efforts. “The generosity of D’Addario & Compay alone is responsible for the resources we have to give,” says Suzanne D’Addario Brouder. “We don’t go out and do other fundraising. Yet, the D’Addario Company is in a unique situation where they contribute almost three percent of their profits before tax to their foundation giving. In some years that’s been School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

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Performance: Improvisation

Improvising in Concert Bands and Orchestras By Christian Barnhard II

T

eachers of traditional concert bands and orchestras often consider improvisation as an activity reserved for jazz settings. Having limited or non-

existent personal experience as improvisers, they often feel uncomfortable teaching improvisation, and believe that it must immediately involve highly complex decision making skill and knowledge. Furthermore, as leaders of ensembles whose primary focus is “re-creative” performance, these teachers often express concern that improvisation will take too much time from the development of traditional instrument technique and literature preparation.

However, beginning with very accessible activities, improvisation can be used as a teaching tool to enhance traditional instruction, while simultaneously allowing opportunities for musical exploration, creativity, and collaboration. The purpose of this article is to introduce ideas that can be readily used in both structured and free improvisation contexts.

“Starting with rhythmic improvisation allows students to focus on manipulating a single element of music.” 16

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Students come to concert band and orchestra rehearsals from the primarily structured environment of other school classes and activities. They have become accustomed to right and wrong answers, and usually crave some level of organization and teacher direction. While music can offer a unique opportunity for emotional exploration, it is often good to begin improvisation activities with a sense of structure, taking students from known to unknown experiences. Starting with rhythmic improvisation allows students to focus on manipulating a single element of music. Using a unison pitch, such as a standard tuning note, allow students to create rhythm combinations and articulations within the parameters of a specific meter or set of pre-selected rhythms. This activity offers the dual benefit of encouraging creativity while still warming instruments and bodies, and reinforcing proper playing position, intonation, and tone quality. As an alternative to the usual drill of unison scales and exercises, next allow students to improvise within the structure of activities such as riffs, calls and responses, and drones. For example, a two-measure unison riff in common time can be repeated by the entire ensemble (reinforcing traditional techniques such as bowing and articulation), alternating with two-measure improvisations of any pitches in a major scale. A call and response improvisation reinforcing traditional concepts such as cut-time and minor tonality can be developed with a two-measure call starting on tonic and ending on any other scale degree, followed by a two-measure response starting on any scale degree and ending on tonic. Drones are often helpful for establishing sound intonation and practicing proper balance and blend. Have half of the ensemble hold a tonic pitch while the other students improvise melodies using scale pitches. If the resulting sound is too cumbersome, ask some students to sing, or allow smaller groups to take turns improvising. Avoiding solo improvisations at this point, however, allows players to have safety in numbers such that they will be more likely to take risks in their decision making and musical development. In addition to major and minor tonalities, students should have opportunities to improvise in scales such as pentatonic,

blues, and other modes. These activities should be related to performance literature as often as possible, leading naturally into opportunities for further improvisation. For example, select an eight-measure

excerpt in major mode and help students determine basic harmonic structure of tonic and dominant chords. Many excerpts of concert band and orchestra literature can be simplified to these

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two chords, and examples of relevant popular music can also be employed to make connections and help with student motivation. Start by allowing students to improvise rhythmically using only tonic and dominant pitches. This will help them to hear chord changes, while still freeing tone quality, intonation, and playing position. Gradually add opportunities for exploration of chord tones (again, providing limited choices and structure) and non-chord tones (allowing for further decision making within the parameters of a given tonality and chord progression). Once students become comfortable, have some improvise while others play notated melodies and bass lines of the original compositions. If desired, these improvisations can be gradually expanded into notation practice, student compositions, and even performance opportunities. Imagine, for example, a concert in which a complete band or orchestra work is performed after an explanation and demonstration of selected melodies and harmonic progressions, including selected improvisations by groups or individual members of the ensemble! Structured improvisation can lead into opportunities for free improvisation, and some students will likely feel more comfortable beginning with free improvisation. Start with very basic activities, such as improvising varied rhythms on a single pitch, pitch bending, pizzicato and other articulation manipulations, and even gentle knocking sounds on the bodies of some instruments. Lee Higgins and Patricia Shehan Campbell offer 21 free improvisation “events” in their recently published book, Free to Be Musical. The events, or activities, range from semi-structured to less structured, and are designed to work with any number of students in any instrument combination. One example encourages relaxation by allowing students to focus breathing before singing any desired pitch. The resulting tone clusters require careful listening and tuning, and are then transferred to instruments, while maintaining regular intervals of focused, yet relaxed breathing. The authors describe teachers as “facilitators,” and recommend that welcome, safe spaces be provided so that music makers can feel free to explore and take risks in the process of improvisation.

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Similarly, Music for People (www.musicforpeople.org) is an organization that promotes a free improvisation approach to music, with the goal of empowering people be active participants rather than passive observers. Slogans of the group include, “no wrong notes,” “play what you sing, sing what you play,” and “quality, not quantity.” Participants of this group offer fine examples of improvisation on traditional and non-traditional instruments, in both solo and accompanying roles. In addition to offering opportunities for creativity and musical exploration, free improvisation can offer alternatives for students who feel frustrated or bored by some traditional part-writing in ensemble sections such as viola, third clarinet, tuba, or percussion. Expanding definitions of music education can also introduce students to music-making possibilities beyond their time in school band and orchestra programs. Music educators often advocate for their subject, stating that it is an opportunity for creative student expression. Yet many traditional concert bands and orchestras allow only for “re-creative” performance of single-line notation, as interpreted and dictated by a conductor. Giving students opportunities for improvisation can be a win-win situation in which creativity is encouraged while actually improving instrument technique and musicianship, thus leading to better performances. For music educators who still feel underprepared to teach improvisation, conferences and workshops can provide a wealth of further information and experience. By taking gradual steps to teach and learn improvisation, we can empower our careers and help our students to develop musical skills and knowledge to last a lifetime. H. Christian Bernhard II, Ph.D. is associate professor of Music Education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches undergraduate courses in instrumental music methods and conducting, as well as graduate courses in music education history, philosophy, psychology, assessment, and curriculum. He holds degrees in music performance and education from The Peabody Conservatory of Music, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and taught band and orchestra in the public schools of Raleigh, North Carolina.


Mastering music is more than a destination. It’s about all of the experiences you have along the way. We give you the freedom to experiment, find your own solutions, and evolve. But we also give you a structured and demanding curriculum that will test even the most talented musicians. You’ll be prepared to succeed in the world of music. Wherever it takes you. Learn more at berklee.edu

WHERE MUSIC TAKES YOU


SBOUpClose: Liz and Jon Handman

Building Inside the Arlington (N.Y.) High School Orchestras:

Excitement N

for Strings

BY ELIAHU SUSSMAN

ew York’s Arlington Central School District covers a wide geographic area near the city of Poughkeepsie in the Hudson Valley. Thanks in part to its relatively close proximity to New York City, it has boomed in population over the past few decades, while also seeing a commensurate increase in art and music in the area. Arlington High School, the lone secondary school in the district, has been a beneficiary of this growing artistic community, featuring an impressive array of ensembles in its music department. Course offerings now include five concert bands, a marching band, two choirs, three jazz bands – including the Arlington Jazz Machine, last year’s first place winner from the Berklee Jazz Festival – a music theory class and several piano classes. The department also boasts three full orchestras and a string orchestra, paced by the reigning 2012 ASTA National Orchestra Festival National Grand Champions, the Arlington High School Philharmonia. 20

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


The two orchestra directors are Jonathan and Elizabeth Handman, a brother-and-sister team who have been working together in Arlington High School for the better part of the past decade. Jon directs the two most advanced orchestras, while Liz manages the freshman ensemble and the nonauditioned orchestra for grades 10-12. The children of a clarinetist father and a pianist/flutist mother, the Handmans are quite the musical family. “Some families are doctors; we’re musicians,” says Liz, a Manhattan School of Musictrained violist who spent years as a professional musician in New York City before entering the field of education. Jon, a cellist, was trained at Oberlin College in Ohio, and their other sister, Rachel, is currently a professional freelance violinist in the Tri-State area and a prominent violin teacher in the region. What’s more, Kimberly Handman, Jon’s wife, is the orchestra director at a feeder middle school in the Arlington district. In examining the recent successes of the AHS orchestras, it should be noted that the program is bolstered by several unique factors. First, like other schools in the state of New York, music students benefit from a pull-out lesson program: on a rotating schedule, music students are pulled out of other courses one period a week for small group

lessons. Also, ensembles in both the middle schools and high schools meet daily, in addition to the weekly pullout lesson. Some of the top orchestra students that have room in their schedules and choose to, also participate in curricular independent study chamber music classes, which means that, when you add that all up, some students may receive up to an astonishing three full periods of music in a single day. Beyond the high school, the entire region benefits from a highly successful private, non-profit music school called Stringendo, which was founded by Jon Handman and Emily Schaad in 2001 and includes Rachel and Liz Handman among its instructors. Stringendo features six string orchestras in the Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley, four ensembles in a fiddle program called the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers, and Summer Strings, a summer day camp. This supplemental school serves the double purpose of providing motivated students with advanced training beyond what they might receive in their school programs, while also keeping private teachers and their studios busy in a healthy symbiotic relationship. Stringendo’s top orchestra, Vivace, directed by Jon Handman, has also had significant success on the national stage, including being named the Grand

Arlington High School Orchestra Program At a Glance Location: 1157 Route 55, LaGrangeville, N.Y. On the Web: www.arlingtonschools.org Students in School: 3,500 Students in Music Program: 600+ Students in Orchestra Program: 250 Orchestra Directors: Jonathan and Elizabeth Handman, Lauren Regan (part-time) Band Directors: Rich Guillen, Darrell Keech, Timothy Daniels District String Teachers: Frank Camiola, Kimberly Handman, John Harper, Lauren Regan, Kristina Rizzo, Heather Sullivan, Laura Taravella

Primary Orchestral Ensembles:

· Symphonette: 85 9th Graders · Sinfonia: 90 10th-12th Graders · Symphony: 80 10th-12th Graders · Philharmonia: 75 10th-12th Graders

Recent Accomplishments:

Philharmonia · 2012 ASTA National Grand Champion Orchestra at the National Orchestra Festival · 2011, 2012 American Prize – 1st place (Public High School Orchestra category) · NYSSMA Majors – Gold with Distinction in 2010

Chamber Music Program

2012 Fischoff – Live Round Quarterfinalist 2012 St. Paul String Quartet Competition – Bronze Medal.

“Chamber music, in any shape or form, makes you a better individual player.”

– Liz Handman

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School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


National Champions at ASTA’s 2009 National Orchestra Festival. In a recent conversation with Jon and Liz Handman, SBO went behind the scenes of this vibrant and prosperous community of string players. School Band & Orchestra: Would you talk about the evolution of the orchestra program at Arlington High School? And how did the two of you end up working together? Jon Handman: This is my ninth year in the district. When I came on board, I was the only full time orchestra teacher and the program was continuing to grow. There really should have been two full-time teachers when I got here, because there was that demand among the student body. I was managing these groups that had 105 students in one group, 95 students in another, and 80 in a third, and it was just ridiculous. We had more kids than would fit on the stage at concerts and rehearsals. Eventually, though, a second position was added to the budget, and we were able to hire another full-time teacher, who, after a thorough interview process, turned out to be Liz. The district was a little reluctant to put siblings together, but Liz is a great teacher, and someone who I’d been working with musically for many years. We had been working together at Stringendo since 2002 and had clearly proven that we knew how to work well with each other. She had been teaching elementary strings at the time, but decided that she wanted to interview to move to the high school when we had that position open up. Liz is amazing – she’s a great violist who has played on Broadway and used to play in the ballet when she was living in New York City, and she’s a great teacher, as well. SBO: Liz, what’s it like working so closely with your brother? Liz Handman: Mostly, it’s quite easy. Jon was an education major long before I even thought about being a teacher, so he was my mentor in a lot of ways when I first started down this path. We get along miraculously – the

Inside Stringendo Jon Handman: Stringendo is a program I started with Emily Schaad in 2001. It began as an extension of a summer camp that we had set up with Emily’s mom Carole called “Summer Strings.” The camp was designed to get the kids playing for a week in the middle of the summer. We created an interesting twist to it, making it equal parts fiddle music and orchestra music, and adding a “Music Jeopardy” game that works miracles in terms of developing their rhythmic skills and musical terms knowledge. It wound up being really exciting and successful for the kids. It grew really quickly – from one week to three one-week sessions, with each one having over 100 kids. We taught fiddle rote, and that really helped the kids with their intonation. The younger ones are mostly kids coming out of public school, not necessarily with private lessons. And the progress they’d make and the fun they’d have in a week made them come back for more. After running it for a couple of years, we decided to try to see if we could get a regular Saturday program going. We had a huge registration – with enough for four orchestras in the first year, about 120 students. Now we have over 200 students in six orchestras, and we have a fiddle program called the “Strawberry Hill Fiddlers,” which has four or five groups. It’s been an amazing experience being a part of that organization and being in contact with kids from throughout our region, watching their growth. There’s a heavy focus on rhythmic independence. Emily and I both grew up playing in large orchestras where individual rhythmic accountability was sort of a non-factor. This caused both of us to make it our mission to address the issue. As a result, we do a lot clapping and counting, a lot of plucking and counting and we work that through the system. The payoff has been really big. Once it gets woven into the culture, students do it because it’s just what they do, and they’re able to play repertoire that is really complex rhythmically, especially when they get into their high school years. At that point, it’s not that hard for them on a rhythmic level because of what they’ve gone through. The smaller orchestras of about 30 students each also help to develop the students’ intonation and chamber skills. Perhaps most important of all, having six groups gives us the chance to place just about everyone at the right ability level. Saturday is the orchestra program, Tuesday nights are the fiddle groups. Rehearsals are anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours. It is completely independent in terms of material from the school programs, but we require that every student in Stringendo also

be a part of his or her school music program. Most students in Stringendo get their start in a public school program. A typical path for Stringendo students would be an elementary school orchestra, their teacher gives them a flyer for Summer Strings, they come to Summer Strings and have a good time, they want to enroll in a year-round program, and then they start private lessons because they see the positive impact it is having on their peers. It’s a culture, and that’s a path kids can take. There are so many choices for young people these days, so getting them early is important. Not all of them stick, but the ones who love it stay with it. It’s a wonderful group to be part of. At this point, we’ve graduated 8 or 9 classes, and between five and 10 seniors go on to study music in college every year – whether that’s music education or performance or something else like music business or music therapy. The oldest ones are now 24 or 25, and they’re teaching in public schools and starting to get some good playing gigs. It’s early in that sense. We don’t have graduates in the New York Philharmonic or anything yet, but it’s neat to watch it grow. I never dreamed that Stringendo was going to become what it has – going to ASTA in ’09 and winning a national competition was a really exciting moment. That really, in a sense, validated the work that we’re doing. It’s an excitement that builds enthusiasm. It’s also a tremendous amount of work for the teacher. You do have to be really committed on a heart level, as well as a technical and personal level. You have to care about the students you’re teaching as human beings, as well as musicians, of course, and realize that you’re part of a community and you’re committed to the community and its success, as well as the success of the individual program. I’ve thought a lot about the factors that have gone into the success of Stringendo, It’s probably more common to see these types of programs in a big city, where there are higher concentrations of students, as well as more professionals to draw from, but I don’t see why it couldn’t succeed anywhere. However, it’s not something that can happen overnight – it takes a lot of time, effort, and relationship building among a lot of people. On the Web: stringendoweb.org Executive Director: Gabriella Fryer Artistic Directors: Jonathan Handman, Carole Schaad, Emily Schaad Stringendo Orchestra Faculty: Elizabeth Handman, Jonathan Handman, Rachel Handman, Gretchen Horvath, Kristina Rizzo Strawberry Hill Fiddle Faculty: Carole Schaad, Emily Schaad, Ambrose Verdibello

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

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usual fight now and again, but no more so than with any of my other colleagues! [laughs] All in all, he respects the work I do, I respect the work that he does, and we learn from each other. He’s a lower strings person whereas I’m an upper strings person, so there’s a good fit there. He teaches lower strings in my orchestra and I teach most of the upper strings in his groups, although not all because there are so many more upper strings in his groups. We work together very well. SBO: What kind of direction have you taken the orchestra in, and what’s been your focus since you’ve been managing the ensembles? JH: Any transition takes a little bit of time. I came in with strong ideas of what I wanted based on my experience, which is where we get our ideas from in most cases. Prior to coming here, I had been teaching in a small neighboring district. There, everything was tiny.

24

I had groups from grades six-12, and the average orchestra size was about 20-25 students. When I showed up at Arlington, it was a totally different world – the orchestras averaged about 85 students each! It took some time for me to really feel convinced that I had made the right decision. Basically, the first year was acclimation. The second and third years showed a bunch of improvement and things really started to click when Liz joined the staff. One important step for the Philharmonia was using the lesson periods to form a comprehensive chamber music program. It took a year or two for that to really get going, but once it did, its educational value became immeasurable. That began about five years ago, when I started noticing that a bunch of seniors had free periods. I decided to try to coordinate their free periods so they could form chamber groups, giving students the opportunity to better maximize their time. I worked it out that there were two groups of four advanced kids who I thought would work well together. We went to guid-

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

ance and had their schedules lined up. It became an independent study class, where they rehearsed on their own every day. The administration was supportive because they would always rather have students doing something constructive instead of just free time. This everyday component to the chamber music program has been pretty transformational. This year we have four string quartets participating in it. They organize their schedules with the help of the guidance counselors, and then they learn how to rehearse on their own each day for a 45-minute period. The kids love doing it, and it changes them fundamentally as musicians. Another key step has been a grant from the Howland Chamber Music Circle to bring in a young up-and-coming string quartet for a four-day residency. These quartets – currently the Jasper String Quartet – come in and meet with each of the chamber groups from Philharmonia, coaching them, and then at the end of the seminar the ensembles all perform in a recital. It has been amazing– we get to hear some of the best young players in the country right there


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in the rehearsal room, and our students are coached by each of their members in a given year. We’re now in our fourth year of the residency, and it has had a major impact on our program. Last year, after sending in recorded auditions, we had a quartet get accepted into both the live quarterfinal round of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the final round of the St. Paul String Quartet Competition, ultimately receiving a bronze medal. After the Fischoff event, their executive director said to me, “I can’t remember a time when a public school string quartet has been accepted into the live rounds of this competition. Those slots virtually always go to groups from private music schools in big cities or college preparatory programs,” – and I believe she had been there for 15 or 20 years! Our kids were really strong players that worked really hard. They were not necessarily as strong as some of the groups that had national award-winning solo players, but because they rehearse every day,

26

they really learned how to connect with each other. I’m convinced that this is what enabled them to be highly competitive as such a prestigious level.

LH: There is one freshman orchestra at the Arlington High School, no matter the playing level of the student. I feel that this is a very important so-

“If we can weave it into the social structure of their lives in a way that it’s exciting for them and make it something that they want to be a part of, then they fall in love with the music.” – Jon Handman At a refined level, that’s one of the big things that I’ve gotten going that has had a profound impact on the program in general. Kids see those quartets as something that they want to be a part of, whether they are planning on going into music or not. SBO: On the other end of the spectrum, how do you incorporate incoming freshmen into the orchestra program?

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

cial, emotional, and musical tradition to keep. Students entering the ninth grade are separated in so many other academic ways from their middle school peers that I believe long lasting friendships and a positive relationship with their instrument gets developed when the option for competition is removed from the equation. We work together as a team for our six concerts that we prepare for in the first year of their high school lives.


I currently have 84 string players in the freshmen orchestra. Within that ensemble, I create lesson groups of students with similar talent/ability levels. Within those lessons groupings, there is usually one or two chamber ensembles that are formed to work on skills that the more advanced students of the freshman class need to work on. Last year, I had one lesson group doing the original, unabridged Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. We worked on it for most of the year, and then in the spring when the Jasper Quartet visited our high school on a grant from the Howland Chamber Music Circle, they coached my freshman group along with the quartets from the Philharmonia orchestra. At the culmination of Jasper’s residency, Philharmonia and Symphony perform a concert with the members of the Jasper Quartet. The second half of the program is a chamber music recital. The recital features quartets that have been working all year and receive special coachings from the Jasper Quartet during their time with us. The advanced freshman chamber groups have the opportunity to get coached by Jasper and perform in the chamber music recital! This experience really ramps up their accountability and their playing. Chamber music, in any shape or form, makes you a better individual player. That’s my firm belief and experience.

son program, and they start to get it. So it helps on a lot of levels. SBO: What are the challenges you’re facing? In many respects this sounds like a great situation because of the in-class time the students have playing music, but there must be more to it than that. JH: You’re right, we do have some nice benefits, but there are also challenges that the students in our district

face as well. Our district is comprised of students that come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, so there is much creativity involved in getting students “in need” an instrument to play since we have a very limited number of district-owned instruments. We are looking to develop a more formal program that will insure that every student has an opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of their economic situation.

SBO: Do you use those quartets and smaller groups to enhance visibility of the program, and for recruiting purposes and so on? JH: Yes, we do it as much as possible because it is great experience and exposure for the students and a tremendous give back to the district and community. We have them playing on the stage before our big concerts, for the school board, for teachers’ retirement parties, district art shows, on the local radio stations, at local restaurants and for regional non-profit organizations fund raising events. Our classroom teachers who we work with are wonderful, but they don’t always love students getting pulled out of their classes for the group lessons. So when they get a chance to hear our students play, they have a better understanding of the value of the lesSchool Band and Orchestra • January 2013

27


Along these lines, we also have to think outside the box to provide some of our students that are interested in going above and beyond an opportunity to receive a “private lesson equivalent” education. In order to deal with this, we’ll frequently have advanced high school students and recent alumni work with our students to help them along. In addition, we have exceptional music teachers throughout our district. These teachers do incredible work providing a comprehensive education for each and every student. On top of an outstanding musical and technical education, the students of these teachers come to us with that super important passion for learning. We also have strong support from local music stores and an amazingly supportive parent group, the A.S.O.A.

a pretty significant increase at Stringendo and at Arlington both in the number of people playing and the enthusiasm. What I’ve found to be most effective is that students are attracted to something that’s exciting. They want to be a part of something that is more like an adventure than a dry learning experience. They’re also attracted to quality. When they start to see their friends excited about doing something and doing well at the same time, then they decide

they want to do it. Siblings come along and they want to be a part of it. SBO: Have you had any difficulty getting kids excited about classical repertoire? JH: When I first started doing this, it took a few years, and it wasn’t until my fourth or fifth year that I started overhearing my students talk about listening to a Shostakovich string quartet or

LH: Our success is not predicated on just face-time, though. Of course that helps – without it, the challenges mount tremendously – but we really succeed through demanding the level of excellence and accountability in students’ playing. Everyone has to come prepared, and there’s no faking or hiding in the program. Also, the feeder programs from the elementary and middle schools are unprecedented. The high level of discipline and musical accountability starts there. We are so fortunate to have our students as well trained as they are when they arrive at the high school. As for challenges, I feel like I’m stretched in a million directions every single day. I have two children and a private studio of 17 students. My lunchtime is typically spent hunched over a computer watching YouTube videos of performing groups or filling out necessary paper work for an upcoming Area All-State or All-County festival. SBO: Do you have any thoughts on cultivating an interest in strings among a region or student body? JH: When I first moved back here, in 1997, it was a very different culture at that time in terms of string education. The programs were smaller – I think the overall school population was smaller, too. I do think there’s been School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

29


comparing Tchaikovsky with Dvorák. That was right around the time that iPods first started becoming this big thing, and I was shocked at how many of these kids were loading up their MP3 players with classical music. Even though I was pretty committed to my instrument growing up, even I was never that focused as a child! If we can weave it into the social structure of their lives in a way that it’s exciting for them and make it some-

30

thing that they want to be a part of, then they fall in love with the music. There’s a reason this music has been around that long. From my own experience, I didn’t start really falling for classical music until I started playing it. I think that’s the hook for them, too. They join, then they get to a place where they can feel it in their finger tips, and then they just want to play it. We don’t hear students complaining about only playing the music of dead

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

composers – it’s just not an issue that we really have to deal with. It comes up here and there, but in that context, that’s where fiddle is a totally different thing, because it involves more improvisation and jam sessions. And a lot of the students really enjoy that part of it, because it diversifies the experience. At the school, we have a very special situation going on with our music colleagues that we teach with every day. The fact that we are able to sustain wind/percussion sections for three symphony orchestras is due to the tremendous support we receive from these exceptional musicians and teachers. I’m fully aware that band and orchestra teachers do not always get along like we do in Arlington and I am grateful for this each and everyday. Having these full orchestras gives students a chance to experience a vast and diverse repertoire that is highly motivating and exciting to perform. Also, a number of our students receive a thorough and well-rounded education as members of our wonderfully led choirs. In addition, we bring in a group called the Sweet Plantain Quartet, and they play all sorts of alternative music for the kids. They’re classically trained, so they’re great musicians fundamentally, and they bring an amazing energy to the classroom. Our kids are interested in it all at different levels. Some of our more advanced kids take to alternatives styles – rock, Latin, and reggae – and that exposure is really helpful for them, musically and creatively. We have 250 string players in the high school, and probably over 225 of them won’t go into music. We teach to everyone and we do hope that each student wants to support the arts and continue playing, but it doesn’t need to happen. It’s about life lessons as much as anything – the discipline you learn, and the concept of being a part of a group and a community. Those are lessons that are hard to learn in too many other places. Especially in the context of the public school day, the students are still learning and thinking when they come into their music classes, but it’s a different mode of operation – and one that I think is really important.


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Survey: Electric Strings

Plugging in the Orchestra

E

ven though electric strings have been a key part of popular music for well over half a century

at this point, they are still often seen as an awkward fit within many of the standard performing ensembles found in the instrumental music program. And yet, with the dramatic expansion and proliferation of technology in our daily lives over the past decade – from smart phones to music software to electrified versions of traditional instruments – it is worth revisiting this topic periodically to take a fresh look at the prevalence of new or hybrid instruments in, particularly, those omnipresent orchestra, concert band, and marching band ensembles. While some educators expressed disdain for the idea of incorporating electric strings into the school curriculum in this recent reader survey (one educator who will remain anonymous simply responded “WTF?”), almost half of the educators polled indicated that they are in fact finding ways to add modern versions of instruments into traditional ensembles, even if only for a select song – or even a part of a song – now and again. It’s also worth mentioning that a number of music directors pointed to the virtue of the electric bass as a means of boosting the low end of the sonic spectrum.

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School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


48%

52%

Do you incorporate electric strings into your traditional band & orchestra ensembles?

22%

Find

4%

Gen

If yes, which electrified versions of instruments do you include? Other

43% No

52%

Yes

48%

31% 22% 4%

“Students love to use the electric instruments but our Other budget does not permit for 2%such ‘luxuries.’ We are lucky they purchase instruments at all and then it is usually only every Viola 10-20 years! You have no idea the condition of some. I have a bass here that I use that 11% I was taught on back in 1971.” Bass Cello Debra J. Sautner 13% Lakeland35% Copper Beech Middle Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Violin

Guitar

“We only use them on programs and songs where an elec19% 20% tric instrument is appropriate to the song. They are not used on every concert, and are not used on every song in a particular concert.” Seth Gamba Elkins Pointe Middle School Roswell, Ga. 39% Orchestra

“We have a 24% full sounding group without needing to use Concert band electronics.” Evan Lee 17% Marching band Norris High School Firth, Neb.

16%

Chamber groups

2%

Purchasing/maintaining equipment Viola 11% Balancing sound Cello

13% Finding/modifying repertoire Violin Generating student interest

Guitar

19%

No

Bass

35%

20%

Yes

48%

52%

43%

Purchasing/mai

31%

Balancing sound

22%

Finding/modify

“We have the39% instrumentation for a string quintet 4% of the Yes Orchestra Generating stud Yamahas. The celli have had great fun doing Apocalyptica 34% tunes.” 24% No Concert band Marla Pflanz 66% East Valley High School 17% Other Marching band Spokane Valley, Wash.

2% 16%

groups to play in the ensem“I often have guitarChamber players wanting Viola ble but this rarely4% works due to the common key signatures 11%andWind ensemble in band vs. guitar the lack Bass of parts scored for the instruCello ment. Bass works because 35% I can have the player read a tuba 13% or bassoon part.” Greg Godfrey Violin Fillmore Senior High School Guitar 19% Fillmore, Calif. 20%

And which ensembles do you use them with?

“We have an electric five-string violin, but I don’t know 4% it into my curriculum.” how to incorporate Wind ensemble Julie Renne Bellefonte Area Schools Bellefonte, Pa.

39%

Orchestra

24%

Concert band

17%

Marching band

“We had an 18-piece electric string chamber orchestra in 2006. While that was very cool from a visual standpoint of having an orchestra, the sound was the same as having an electronic keyboard cover the part. It ended up being a lot of work and logistically was not worth the trouble, given the grand scheme of marching band. In small group setting it would for sure be worth it.” Shawn McAnear Cypress Falls High School Houston, Texas

16%

Chamber groups

4%

Wind ensemble

“I use electric strings in my jazz class and traditional classes. Kids love them!” Michelle Ewer Creighton Middle School Lakewood, Colo.

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

33

No

66%


48%

52%

22% 4%

“I include jazz and rock music in my orchestra programs and the electric instruments make my job much easier.” Nathan Artley Other Pine Forest Schools 2% Fayetteville, N.C.

Finding/modifying repertoire Generating student interest

Do you use electric instruments in non-traditional performing groups?

Viola

What are the primary challenges 11% of including electric Bass Cello ensembles? string instruments with traditional

35%

13%

43% 31% 22% 4%

34%

No

66%

Violin Guitar Purchasing/maintaining equipment 19%

20%

Balancing sound Finding/modifying repertoire Generating student interest 39% Orchestra

24%

Concert band

17%

Marching band

16% 4%

Quality Instruments

No

34

Yes

Chamber groups Yes

34%

Wind ensemble

66%

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School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

“Our Intro-to-Music class uses electric bass and electric guitar and the students play in ‘Rock Bands’ at various times for the class.” David Villa Williams Middle School Tracy, Calif. “I’m certain that if we got instruments, kids would flock to them. It just hasn’t been a priority for us.” Peter Lemonds Duluth High School Duluth, Ga. Additional thoughts on using electric string instruments in band and orchestra groups?

“I think it’s a great alternative to reach a broader audience, in addition to some of the students that might not succeed with ‘traditional’ settings. It’s another option to explore and it truly does enhance the curriculum that I have in place. The students want to play the ‘fun stuff’ but realize they have to have rhythm and technique – all those basics that they originally saw as boring. Now, they see that to do the fun stuff, they have to do the foundation work so that they can actually execute the music they want to play! It’s a beautiful thing.” Margaret Brown McKinney North High School McKinney, Texas “The expense and maintenance is the main issue I have. Once you get past the cool toy factor, what is the reason to use one of these when you have ‘real’ ones on the shelf?” Jim Phillips Coeur d’Alene High School Coeur d’Alene, Idaho “I think it’s a great idea to connect modern music with the standard repertoire in orchestra. If I had the equipment (or money to purchase it), I would love to do some; I believe it would help with retention.” Christine Alcorta Jones Middle School San Antonio, Texas


Guest Editorial: Rosewood

The Rosewood Forest:

Chasing an Answer

By James Moyer, DMA

F

or those of us who are percussionists, rosewood has always been the standard of sound and quality for marimba and xylophone keyboards. For music teachers that are non-percussionists, you may not be aware of the vanishing act that has been occurring with this valuable resource. Com-

monly known as Honduras Rosewood, Dalbergia stevensonii is a rare and dwindling species that grows only in Central America and has been the single best choice for marimba and xylophone companies since the early days of J. C. Deagan in the late 1880s. Its amazing ability to produce a full and lush musical tone when cut and tuned is simply unmatched. Did you know?

Fresh Honduras Rosewood at the mill.

36

What you may not know is we are in danger of losing this wood in the future. And while research has been conducted by many marimba companies to find a worthy substitute, nothing significant has been found to date. Dalbergia stevensonii grows mainly in the tropical forests of Belize (formerly the British Honduras, hence the common name of the wood), parts of Gua-

School Band and Orchestra • January 2012

temala and the very south of Mexico. Currently, the species is included in the CITES Appendix III list, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. CITES has three levels of classification for at risk or endangered species. This inclusion actually only applies to the forests of Guatemala, not Belize where most of the harvesting occurs. A decision on Belize’s proposal for inclusion of the species under Ap-


pendix II will not be made until after the CITES Conference of the Parties in March 2013. Under Appendix II (a listing that would usually apply to all range states where the trees grow), international trade is still permitted but more paperwork is required to demonstrate that the wood has been sustainably sourced. The areas are dangerous to work and inspect since this area of Central America experiences a high rate of violent crime. As a result, illegal logging already takes place there. Guatemala is roughly the size of Virginia, but this type of rosewood is only found in parts of the county. Belize, where the highest concentrations are, is no larger than New Jersey. Consider that there are no less than a dozen companies, both large and small, that have been building marimbas and xylophones for decades. And this does not account for now defunct companies like Deagan and Leedy, who were building these instruments for 100 years or more. To be fair, Dalbergia stevensonii is also used for other instruments like high end guitars, string instrument fingerboards as well as expensive furniture and carvings like bowls and various wood working crafts as seen below.

and is seemingly unaffected by weather. I’ve actually seen instruments where the bar is practically split in two and still plays! These instruments are generally less expensive than rosewood, although that is not always the case. They were intended for two markets: those that can ill-afford their more expensive rosewood cousins, and for outdoor use. I will revisit this “theme” a bit later in the article. While these instruments offer an alternative to Dalbergia stevensonii for keyboards, the quality of sound is nowhere near that of wood. The truth is, professional percussionists and college percussion programs almost exclusively purchase rosewood instruments. The science of analysis and discovery has certainly evolved since Jack Deagan began searching for other alternatives in the last century. Keyboard percussion companies have been researching and testing other woods and composites for years. They are all well aware that Dalbergia stevensonii is “on the clock” and its availability shrinks each year. Government oversight and forest certification processes could attempt to manage this resource. And while that would be good, it will increase the price of rosewood, perhaps significantly.

How about other woods?

An example of rosewood furniture.

What about synthetics? You can find synthetic percussion keyboards in most band rooms across the country. These come under various names: Musser uses Kelon, Yamaha’s name is Acoustalon, Zelon is used by Adams, and Ross used the name Prolon (recently acquired by Majestic). No matter the name, the formulas are essentially fiberglass with a secret mix of other chemicals. The bars are artificially colored and produce a tuned pitch when struck. This material is very durable, generally stays in tune

The research of investigating alternative woods has been in place for a long time. This involves many scientific factors, which most of the builders of these instruments cannot afford or have access to. Plus, testing other woods sacrifices valuable shop time and is expensive. First, we need to fully understand the hardness (Janka scale), chemistry, botanical structure, physical characteristics, density, specific gravity, moisture content, and the mechanical properties (Young’s Modulus) of Dalbergia stevensonii. That data would be used as a reference standard. A large pool of human resources that includes scientists, wood engineers, suppliers, and expert builders to test other woods would be required to fully exhaust any potential rosewood substitutes. Other types of rosewood have already been tried, and

some are more expensive and harder to find. So far, nothing is even close to the tone qualities of Dalbergia stevensonii. There is one wood, from Africa, that is being used as a low cost alternative for beginner and “school” instruments. Padauk is much softer than the rosewood currently in use. On the Janka scale of wood hardness, it measured at 1,725, compared to the Honduras rosewood at 2,200. As a reference, Southern Red Oak is 1,060 and English Walnut is 1,210. For fun at your next Scrabble party, the softest wood we know of is Quipo, which is a mere 22 on the Janka scale. The hardest wood is Buloke Australian, which comes in at an almost quartz-hard 5,060!

A five-octave rosewood marimba (courtesy of DeMorrow Instruments).

There are thousands of species of trees in the world. Given the scale of research needed to find some alternative wood, certain limitations need to be in place to realistically narrow the search before Dalbergia stevensonii can no longer be used. The range talked about, among some organizations to conserve and protect the species, is anywhere from five to 10 years. However, if this wood moves to CITES Appendix I in the future, its availability will be very limited if at all.

What can we do about it? Earlier, there was a reference to synthetic bar instruments, which have been produced and sold for decades. The savvy teacher or percussionist can find good quality rosewood instruments for less than the synthetic alternatives. But, rosewood marimbas and even those of padauk, should stay indoors. The unfortunate abuse of rosewood marimbas and xylophones comes from ill-advised use for drum corps and marching bands. Even in nice weather, the sun alone will dry out and crack these bars in

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

37


THAT’S MY SOUND!

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38

just a few weeks outside. Rain will ruin them instantly. Not to mention that the instruments go out of tune with changes in climate and there is nothing you can do about it. Tunable resonators simply adjust the length of the air column to match the bars frequency for the best projection. You cannot actually “tune” the bar by adjusting the tube stops. Replacement bars are expensive and time consuming, since you have to restring the entire keyboard to replace one bar. More importantly, it uses up a wood that is already limited and in high demand. Below is a list of things we can do as music educators to help give the industry time in finding other woods or new composites that will lessen our dependency on this type of rosewood. • Initiate a plan to slow down and eventually stop the use of rosewood instruments for marching band. • Become a good steward of the instrument by making sure students use nothing but yarn mallets on rosewood marimbas and nothing harder than the wood for rosewood xylophones. If it dents the bar, don’t use it! • Move away from the often-exaggerated practice of high arm movement and harder mallets for “front ensemble” playing. It’s bad technique and damages the bars. • Make a real attempt, with your band parents and administration, to gradually replace the rosewood instruments with synthetic bar keyboards for marching band. • Place a sheet or instrument cover on all keyboards after use and when moving. It provides some protection from dust which can get into the wood and deaden the sound. • Never touch rosewood directly with your hands. The oils from your skin also contribute to deaden the sound of the bar. • Once a year, clean the bars with lemon oil or a mild wood cleaning product. You will be surprised how dirty these bars get over time. • Never allow students to place instruments, cases, or books on these keyboards. The same is true of tim-

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

pani. Price timpani heads lately? • Make your students aware of the diminishing returns of not caring for these instruments. Share this article with them so they understand the importance of preserving Dalbergia stevensonii, and in turn, the value of caring for their own instruments. • My rule has always been, “if its not your instrument, its not in your hands.” In closing, I hope this article has shed some light on the status of this rosewood. You can help the campaign to eliminate wasting away the shrinking supply of this amazing wood. Dalbergia stevensonii is loosely controlled in Belize, and there may not be as much as we think. Realize the heavy demand for this wood in musical instruments, wood crafts, and furniture, recognizing all that wood comes from an area no larger than New Jersey and Virginia. People don’t go to bed at night worrying about this, it will never make news headlines, and non-percussionists would never be aware. Now you can join me, the percussion community, and the companies that build these instruments in a combined effort to saving this unique, rare, and amazing wood that down to its very fiber is music. A native of Shamokin, Pa., Dr. Moyer’s articles appear in Percussive Notes and School Band & Orchestra. His solo CD, Something Old, Something New, as well as his multiple publications are available through Alliance Publications, Studio 4 Music, and C. Alan Publications. His latest marimba method, Four Mallet Progressive Literature, was released in 2010 by Studio 4 Music. Dr. Moyer is currently director of Band and Percussion Studies at Texas A & M International University and timpanist with the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra.

For the latest news and content, follow SBO on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sbomagazine


Technology: Alternative Music

Technology-Based Music Classes:

Expanding Our Reach by John Kuzmich, Jr. and Rick Dammers

B

ands, orchestras, and choirs have long been a staple of secondary education in this country. Our performing ensembles have proven to be a resilient and powerful way to actively

engage students in music. However, there is a problem. Over the past 40 or more years our performing programs have engaged approximately 20 percent of high school students. While bands, orchestras, and choirs are great for this 20 percent, it leads to the question: “What about the ‘other 80 percent’?”

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

39


The next question might be, “Why do I care?” Generally speaking, music teachers are somewhat idealistic (not usually entering the profession for the monetary reward) and would agree with the statement that, “If music is important, it is important for everyone.” As a profession, our mission is to enrich the lives of our citizens and the quality of our society through a deepened engagement with music. It is hard to achieve that mission when we don’t see a majority of students past sixth grade in a music class or ensemble. A more pragmatic answer to the question of “Why do I care” is the corollary of the above statement: The more students that study music, the more important it is in the school. The larger the percentage of students engaged in music, the more central it will be to the life of the school and the more likely it will be supported by the administration and community. In this time of budget challenges, music educators settle for a lower share of the student population at their own peril. This market share issue is not new. Since it was raised as a concern in the 1968 Tanglewood Symposium, the situation has held steady or slightly worsened. It is obvious that if we are going to

draw additional students, we will need to diversify our curriculum and offer different kinds of music classes, in addition to choir, band, and orchestra. Technologybased music classes are a particularly promising solution. Technology-based music classes allow for active, hands-on, individualized engagement in a wide variety of musical styles. These classes have the added benefit that they readily attract students who don’t choose to perform. Technology-based music classes can reach the “other 80 percent.”

without technology-based music classes felt that one could be created in their school, according to “Technology-based music classes in high schools in the United States,” a paper presented at the Association for Technology in Music Instruction Conference, Minneapolis, Minn. (Dammers, 2010). Some directors might ask, “Wouldn’t a technology-based class hurt my band or orchestra?” This is a legitimate question. However, experience has shown that while some students dual enroll,

As a profession, our mission is to enrich the lives of our citizens and the quality of our society through a deepened engagement with music. The trend toward adding these courses is already underway. In a national survey, 14 percent of high schools in the United States (or over 2,500) were found to offer technology-based music classes. Over half of these classes were created in the last seven years. This growth seems likely to continue as these classes are valued by administrators and 56 percent of administrators in schools

technology-based classes do not draw students away from performance ensembles. Instead, the tech classes largely draw from the majority of students who had not chosen band or orchestra years ago. So instead of creating a situation of fighting over a small pool of students, it is really a case where a rising tide raises all ships. While administrators value these classes, most of these classes were created through efforts of individual music teachers. The responsibility for expanding the reach of music education lies with the individual director, as the last 40 years have shown that it won’t happen otherwise. So what might one of these classes look like? Please continue on to read about two pioneering teachers and their music technology programs. Additional profiles and resources are also available at musiccreativity.org.

Will Kuhn & the LHS Music Tech Program In 2006, Lebanon (Ohio) High School’s music department decided to focus resources on growing the overall student reach of their program. A pilot study Music Technology class was formed that year. Over the next three years, more and more sections of the course were added to the registration schedule that Music Technology is now a full time teaching position at LHS. The 40

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013


course can fulfill either a fine arts or technology credit (both state mandates), and operates very differently from a traditional music class. Using GarageBand and Ableton Live, students create original music in a highly refined and cutting edge production setting. Unlike a performance-based class (like band) or a lecture-based class (like music appreciation), Music Tech is a projectbased class. Lectures are minimal, quizzes are infrequent, and the bulk of class time is focused on cultivating skills and creativity. The most crucial element when designing a technology-based music class is the projects themselves. Every assignment has to be fun, relatable, and full of skillbuilding opportunities. Without relevant and compelling projects, and the resulting portfolio, students will have trouble taking any kind of music skill seriously and personally. The inspiration for good projects in both the beginning and advanced classes is somewhat unusual. LHS Music Tech projects are modeled more closely after Art projects than anything else. The course is not run for a lecture

or group performance goal, but rather to build each student’s personal portfolio of self-produced music. Projects last one or two weeks and are often centered on a specific production skill, such as drum programming, sampling, or sound design. Projects can try to deconstruct an existing style of electronic dance music, create something totally original using only the “ingredients” of a specific instrumentation, or possibly even take an existing recording session and bring it to a finalized mix. Another key element of the Lebanon HS program is the performance group, EMG. EMG is made of a handful of select advanced-level Music Tech students who either produce at a proto-pro- Will Kuhn. fessional level or have a specific skill (singing, rapping, songwriting) they can bring to the group. In stark contrast to the general Music Tech course, the goal of EMG is to entertain

and put a quality performance on for the public. Instrumentation varies from year to year, but the group usually consists of one or two DJs running Ableton Live on a laptop controlled by an Akai APC40 and a second drum pad controller, two keyboardists, an EWI player, a visualist (someone who triggers the lights and video backdrops), and vocalists as needed. This group DJs for LHS home basketball games and has performed at the OMEA and eTech Ohio state conventions and at TI:ME National to rave reviews. Will Kuhn, the program’s director, believes that the future is bright for this type of instruction. Since its inception at LHS, the Music Tech program has grown a great deal, and now involves over 300 students annually. It is difficult to predict the next direction this type of program takes, but the takeaway from a case study of LHS

School Band and Orchestra • January 2013

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should not be that a specific software package or gadget is the driving factor, but that tools for creativity placed in students hands and thoughtfully facilitated can bring an experience to students they never thought possible. “Year after year, students leave the semester amazed at the songs they’ve created and what they were able to achieve,” says Kuhn. “As a piece of the larger educational puzzle, the hope is that this program not only teaches students that they can learn mu-

sic software and craft quality songs, but also that they are capable of teaching themselves how to apply creative problem-solving and demand originality of themselves throughout their lives.”

Brian Laakso & the MHS Music Tech Program Brian Laakso teaches three tiers of high school Music Technology courses at the Impact School of the Arts, McKinley High School, in Canton, Ohio. These

courses began in 2009 and service about 250 students per year. He created the curriculum for each of these semesterlong courses, and he continuously modifies and refines them primarily based upon student input, suggestion, and critique. His courses have been taught on a slim budget, and predominantly use website-based tools and freeware to make the students’ music. Although the program grows in small ways every year, the program is proof that it is entirely

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possible to launch a music tech program that can fully engage students without a lot of expensive tech toys. Music Technology – Fundamentals is the entry-level course. It is geared for classrooms of mixed grade levels (912) and mixed abilities (some students are talented musicians, others are nonmusical). Each unit of the class consists of a fact gathering and lecture session, a lengthy interactive project, a project sharing session, and a test. The units are also supplemented with relevant and thematically related daily audio and video clips. The primary lens of the class focuses on the history and possible futures of technology and its impact on the world of music. Topics covered include: • The Evolution of Recording Mediums (player piano rolls, cylinders, tape, MP3s, and so on) • Sequencers (from 808s to ProTools) • The Evolution of Tech Instruments (Theremins, Moogs, Fairlight CMIs, and beyond) • Electric Guitars / Rock ‘N’ Roll (pickups, distortion pedals, keytars, and more) • The Technology of Hip Hop (turntables to digital DJing)


• Sound Systems (for studios and concerts) • The Music Biz (copyrights, royalties, internet, and more) • Video Game Music (8-bit to DJ Hero) In the second course, Music Technology II – Creative Expressions, students focus on creating, collaborating, and communicating music made with technology. Some of the intensive projects include: • Songwriting (in many different styles and forms): Students use websites like www.soundation.com or www. audiotool.com, and software like Mixcraft to write original music. • Remixing: Students trade the songs created in the songwriting projects, and focus on “keeping what’s hot, improving what’s not” about their classmates’ tunes. • Music videos: Students learn the process of storyboarding, filming (with Flip cameras), and editing music videos. They become familiar with Windows Movie Maker. • Film scoring/Foley: Students provide original scores and sound effects for short movie clips of their own choosing. In the third course, Music Technology III – Music Tech in the Real World, students complete long term, rigorous, cross-curricular projects that are relevant to their interests. For example, a student with interests in English and creative writing might choose to record a narration of a children’s story, complete with sound effects and original music; a student interested in sports might study music’s influence on athletics, or write music for a sporting event; an interest in science or biology might inspire exploration of music therapy applications; interests in social studies might lead to research of cultural groups inspired by music (like ravers, punks, or hippies); interests in computer science or mathematics might lead to writing “apps” for music making. Regardless of the project, the goal of the course is to (1) inspire self-directed learning, (2) leverage music and technology as guiding lights, and (3) develop the creative artistry and expression of students. Brian also believes in the power of field trips. “I require my students to attend a full day field trip once per semester,” he says. “The focus for each trip is always ‘Ca-

reers in Music,’ although the destinations are different every semester. It is amazing how many businesses will open their doors to students, and we always get a special ‘behind the scenes/backstage’ look at each of the venues that we would never get as mere customers. We have visited the House of Blues (concert club), Alternative Press (music magazine), Guitar Center (retail), local radio stations, professional recording studios, university recording arts and technology programs, and other musical destinations. Field trip day is often the highlight of the course for the students. They learn that there are many careers available to music-lovers who aren’t musicians, and they are also thrilled to be able to stand on the same stage as some of their favorite artists!” Brian continues, “Other class ventures have included educational videoconferences with teachers, producers, musicians, and game designers. Last year we launched a student-run nightclub series at a local venue to feature student talent in a professional setting. This year students are excited about beginning a student recording label, created to promote original student music.” Music tech is alive and thriving at McKinley High School, and the students actually love the learning involved! If you would like specific lesson plans, rubrics, study guides, tests, and project details for these courses, please email Brian at blaakso@gmail.com.

Closing Comments We have a unique opportunity to expand our music programs in the public schools with music technology courses. Fortunately, there are many different pro-

totypes to follow with varied areas of emphasis. In the coming months, there will be other creative programs featured illustrating different prototypes. If you would like guidance or support in your plans to bring technology to your music classes, be sure to check out TI:ME, the Technology Institute for Music Educators. TI:ME is an international coalition of music teachers (K-16) that provides assistance to any music teacher looking for help enhancing their music classrooms with technology. Brian, Rick and Will are all active members in TI:ME, which offers tech certification courses, clinics at state MEA conferences, online lesson plans, networking, magazine subscriptions, and many other benefits to their members. Consider joining – check out their website at www.ti-me.org. Rick Dammers is an associate professor of Music Education and chair of the Music Department at Rowan University, where he incorporates technology throughout the music education curriculum. He was honored as the 2010 TI:ME Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year. Dr. John Kuzmich Jr. is a veteran music educator, jazz educator and music technologist with more than 41 years of public school teaching experience. He is a TI:ME-certified training instructor and has a Ph.D. in comprehensive musicianship. As a freelance author, Dr. Kuzmich has more than 400 articles and five text books published. As a clinician, Dr. Kuzmich frequently participates in workshops throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South America. For more information, visit www.kuzmich.com.

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The new E.Rousseau RC alto saxophone mouthpieces deliver a centered, darker tone, a wide dynamic range and terrific response, including a distinctively improved lower register. The RC mouthpiece design features slightly reshaped sidewalls and baffle and is now available for alto saxophone in three facings – RC3 (med. close), RC4 (medium) and RC5 (med. open). The E.Rousseau saxophone mouthpiece line is distributed by music dealers worldwide through ConnSelmer. Dr. Rousseau’s mouthpieces include special designs for both classical and jazz performance. The Classic R Series is designed to meet the needs of the serious classical performer. These mouthpieces provide a warm centered

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Ad Index

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American Way Marketing LLC

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Antigua Winds

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National Educational Music Co.

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Northeastern Music Publication

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Pearl Corp.

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Peterson Strobe Tuners

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SKB Corp.

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Super-Sensitive Musical String Co.

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The Tuba Exchange, Inc.

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Woodwind & Brasswindent Co.

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Avedis Zildjian Co.

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