Music education surely is a demanding career. Do we need any obstacles to make it harder? How about if I told you that there is significant data and articles supporting the argument that marching band causes hearing loss? Does that seem too strong of a claim? The fact is, those claims are being made and that really is something we all ought to be seriously concerned about!
As musicians, there may not be anything more important than our hearing. At Vic Firth we have long believed that hearing protection is of crucial importance to musicians of all ages and disciplines. We have a responsibility to the musicians we serve – whether they are behind a drum set, on a football field, or in a concert hall.
Expanding upon our highly successful line of isolation headphones, we have now designed new High-Fidelity Earplugs in collaboration with Etymotic Research; some of the brightest minds in the field of professional hearing protection. With the portability of this product, it is very easy to use for all participants in marching band, drum corps and indoor marching percussion to practice and perform, safely. With such a product, we are able to better promote the importance of hearing protection among young musicians and music educators.
Learn more at vicfirth.com.
"The VAE Rehearsal System is outstanding – my students can actually experience playing in a performance environment: maintaining rhythm, tuning and pitch across the band," explains Joel Ashbrook, Band Director at Central High School in San Angelo, Texas.
Ashbrook chooses different acoustic settings to work on improving balance and precision with his students. He believes the VAE technology is a great teaching tool.
Before Central's band room was renovated, Ashbrook found it challenging to instruct students effectively about attacks, releases and articulation. Like most school rehearsal rooms, Central's was acoustically dry, lacking any resonance or ambiance. The VAE Technology now provides alternatives.
"If I know our marching band is playing at a large football stadium, I'll select the sports arena setting," Ashbrook states. "It improves precision, balance and blend issues, such as from the percussion battery to the upper brass."
The custom setting enables Ashbrook's groups to play every day in a hall that sounds like the stage they'll compete on. "That can't help but give us an advantage," he notes.
Ashbrook considers the VAE technology's record-playback function extremely beneficial to learning. "It's been an eye-opener for my students. I might explain something a thousand times, but hearing it makes the light bulb go on.
"The VAE Rehearsal System really helps my day-to-day teaching," explains Ashbrook. "Initially I thought the system was just a way to show students how they would sound onstage. But as soon as I was given a demo, I realized how I could use it as a teaching tool."
Visit Wenger at wengercorp.com.
Yamaha is pleased to announce the sale of a custom drumline to the public. Drumlines used by The Colts, The Cavaliers, USC, and Infinity Percussion are all available now. The colors, sizes and series will vary and are listed below.
Yamaha goes to great lengths to ensure that all drumlines receive a thorough cleaning, inspection and repair. Refurbishment includes, and is not limited to, the following:
Purple Sparkle Fade - (9) 9200 Series snares drums, (5) Sets of 8200 Series multi-toms (680234), (5) 8200 Series bass drums (sizes - 16,18,20,24,28).
White Sparkle - (9) 9200 Series snares, (5) 8200 Series multi-toms (60234), (6) 8200 Series bass drums (sizes - 16,18,20,24,28,32). This set was used by The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps.
Natural Gloss - (10) 9200 Series snares, (4) 8200 Series multi-toms (680234), (6) 8200 Series bass drums (sizes - 18,20,24,28,30,32). This set was used by The Colts Drum & Bugle Corps.
Cherry Wood Custom Finish - (9) 9200 Series snares, (6) 8200 Series multi-toms (68024), (10) 8200 Series bass drums (sizes - 18,20,22,24,26,28,30,32).
The United Sound National Ensemble, comprised of 98 students from across the U.S. who are involved in their school's United Sound program, performed at the 25th Annual Music for All National Festival during the Honor Band of America concert on March 12 in Indianapolis.
Music for All is a proud sponsor of United Sound. United Sound operates as a mentorship program that pairs New Musicians (those with special needs) with Peer Mentors to learn to play an instrument of their choice and perform together in concert once a semester. The organization is also dedicated to providing educators with the tools for creating their own United Sound ensembles through training, support, and organizational resources.
The United Sound National Ensemble performed the world premiere of Richard Saucedo's new composition, "A Celebration for My Three Best Friends," commissioned in honor of the ensemble and their first performance at the Music for All National Festival.
"The opportunity for United Sound students to perform on the national stage with some of our country's finest music educators and student musicians is truly an honor, " said United Sound Founder and Executive Director, Julie Duty. "As we work together to include all children in music, we believe that performances like this are the first step in truly making music for all. "
"Music for All was thrilled to include this ensemble on the National Festival stage," said James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Educational Resources. "It was an incredible and memorable experience for performance and audience members alike."
Music for All is a proud sponsor of United Sound.
Watch the video feature on the United Sound National Ensemble from the Music for All National Festival.
Four years after the inception of Be Part of the Band, Be Part of the Orchestra and Be Part of the Music were launched in 2015. The newest part of the program is Stay In Music, aimed to speak to teens, their parents, and stakeholders.
Be Part of the Music is a K-12, cross-curricular band, choir, and orchestra recruitment and retention solution. There are currently 33 videos and 52 supporting documents on the site, which have been viewed in all 50 states and 10 countries. Flash drives with program resources are also available.
Stay In Music is the most recent launch. "We took the successes of our previous resources and gave them a powerful and sleek new look that’s sure to resonate with teenagers and their parents," said Scott Lang, creator of Be Part of the Music.
The Be Part of the Music project is made possible generous support of corporate partners Music for All, Yamaha Corporation of America, American String Teachers Association, Jupiter Instruments, NAfME, and St. Louis Music.
Learn more about Stay in Music.
A Story as Told by the National Mall in Washington, DC
As interpreted by Robert B. Morrison
It had been an incredibly invigorating week in Washington DC and my mind just would not turn off. More than seventy music and arts education advocates had been convened by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) for their annual "fly in." This was a chance to meet with our members of Congress to help advance arts education in the United States.
Between the training and events, food, more events, music, more food, press conferences, fabulous speakers (The legendary Congressman John Lewis, Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Yankee Legend Bernie Williams, Political Pollster Charlie Cook, Actor Doc Shaw and Opera Star Carla Dirlikov), did I mention food - we had been busy.
On our first evening together, Congressman John Lewis regaled us with stories from his youth in Troy Alabama. He spoke of raising chickens, segregation, and his calling to the civil rights movement. He spoke of Selma and Dr. King. Of the violence in the south to the historic moment on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and the famous words… "I have a Dream."
He then looked up at all of us and stated:
"Without Music, the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings."
It would take some time for the gravity of those words to truly sink in.
On Wednesday, we culminated our time together by spending the day lobbying for music and arts education with our congressional leaders and then celebrating at a reception overlooking the U.S. Capital Building.
After two days of meetings and making the case for music and arts education with our nation's leaders the excitement and adrenaline rush would just not subside. I was back at my hotel (on New Jersey Avenue no less) and I just could not sleep. As the night wore on I tossed and turned. A brief doze here and a short one there. By 5:30 AM I had had enough. Determined to do something useful I decided I would go for a walk/jog (to work off some of the food, of course).
Seeing that we were only a few blocks from the National Mall I decided to shun my hotel treadmill routine, put on my shorts, workout shirt and sneakers and headed down to Constitution Avenue where I entered the mall at the very foot of the capitol steps. I decided to walk from the Capital to the Lincoln Memorial and back then head to Starbucks for my morning green tea.
As I entered that great green lawn of the National Mall my brain was still on overload with thoughts racing by a mile a minute. I decided to shun my routine of listening to music to just walk/jog in silence so I could take in the sights and sounds as I tried to organize the jumble going on inside my head.
My family and I had lived in Northern Virginia twenty years ago. We had been on the National Mall dozens of times for fun and dozens more for work. This time, something was different.
What stuck me immediately was something I had never seen or heard at the Mall. SILENCE! There were no cars, no tourists, no mega buses, no joggers, no construction, no whistles, no families with pets or kids running across blankets.
The place was empty.
Not one person appeared for as far as I could see. It was like having the entire National Mall all to myself! Then I noticed some sounds. What was that? Birds! They were chirping from the forest of trees that line both sides of the Mall and with their call they invited me to see our nations capital through a new set of eyes.
I began my walk toward the Washington Monument and my frenetic brain activity began to organize itself… almost as if this great historic national park was calling to me eager to share a story… so I listened.
As I traversed the Mall I passed the National Museum of Art on one side and the Air and Space Museum on the other. Places that celebrate both our creativity and imagination that literally transcend both time (centuries!) and space (on our own planet and beyond). On my left appeared the National Museum of the American Indian and the celebration of the history and culture of this continent's great native people. Next came the Hirshhorn Museum which houses so many great works of contemporary art.
I continued on, passing on my right the National Museum of Natural History with our nation's natural wonders and then to the National Museum of American History filled with our man made wonders and home to that most iconic of all flags, the Star Spangled Banner; the flag that flew high over fort McHenry signaling the country had survived the night in what could have been the downfall of the fledgling republic in September of 1814, and the inspiration for what is now our national anthem.
A musical and artistic theme was starting emerge in my mind. This idea of the connection between music and arts education and our great national history began to reveal itself to me as I passed the National Museum of American History was fitting since this is also the home to one of the great musical instrument collections.
Just past the Museum of American History and rising from the Mall to my right was the still under construction museum of African American History and Culture… the soon to be home for cultural icons like Louis Armstrong's trumpet, Chuck Berry's car and Leadbelly's songbook.
From there I went to the Washington Monument and thought about the man who was our greatest Army General and our first President. I thought of fifes and drums calling our Revolutionary soldiers to battle under his command. I also thought of his duets playing the flute with his granddaughter. I looked to my left to see the Jefferson Memorial and the silhouette of the statuesque Jefferson in the soft gray morning haze of the Potomac. I thought of him playing his violin and the importance he placed on the arts in his own life.
I turned to my right to see the south portico of the White House which brought back the memory of its first inhabitant, John Adams. His voice was suddenly in my head:
"I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine."
- Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, post 12 May 1780
And then I remembered my own experience sitting under a huge white tent on the south lawn of the White House in the fall of 1999 where I was executive producing a live Concert for Music Education. My good friend and colleague Joe Lamond (NAMM CEO) was in the tent with me. President Clinton climbed upon the stage to tell HIS story of the important roll of music in his life and then uttered these words historic words:
"I would not have become President if it were not for my school music teachers."
As this phrase and the southern drawl through which they were replayed faded from my memory I continued from the Washington Monument staring out to the Lincoln Memorial to see nothing between us… no people or noise… just some ducks, their ducklings and this story our National Mall was committed to telling me.
I entered into the reverent World War II Memorial and was awestruck by its beauty. The fountains were running, breaking the silence of the dawn. Iron wreaths hung over each pillar in tribute to every state and territory. I went to the left center pavilion constructed to honor the war in the pacific. I passed the inscription honoring Pearl Harbor and then entered the pavilion and stood in awe of the massive eagles holding a horizontal wreath above my head. I then looked below to see the inscription "Victory on Land, Victory in the Air and Victory at Sea." It was here that I heard the words of Winston Churchill. During World War II, Britain's finance minister recommended to Winston Churchill that they cut arts funding in order to better support the war effort. Churchill's reply was clear and to the point:
"Then what are we fighting for?"
I then continued on my journey toward the stoic statues of the Korean War Memorial slogging through the muck and mire to my left and the elegant angled black marble wall paying tribute to those who fought and died in the Vietnam War to my right.
Indeed… what are we fighting for?
I walked along the reflecting pool and started to contemplate my journey this week. I then came to the Lincoln Memorial and started to climb the steps. As I reached the top of the steps I passed through those huge marble columns and entered the Memorial to look at President Lincoln in complete and total peace and quiet. No people, no sounds, no crowds. I read the inscription over his head. And then turned to my left to read the poetry of the Gettysburg Address chiseled into the white marble wall.
I walked back out between those same marble columns and looked out upon the still empty vista, across the vast reflecting pool to the Washington Monument and Nation's Capitol in the distance beyond. I stood on the place where Martin Luther King stood some 50 years prior. Where his noble Lieutenant John Lewis stood by his side.
I felt a shiver.
And then, finally, the scramble in my brain started to make sense.
You see, John Lewis stood before us just three days earlier… himself a living statue to the great struggle for civil rights. He was a partner with Dr. King and is now a sitting Congressman from Georgia. He spoke about the struggle for civil rights, his life growing up in the segregated south, his efforts to raise chickens and his struggle to raise his people.
Reflecting on his past, his own place in history and this specific moment in time he uttered those words:
"Without Music, the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings."
The words came back to me and hit me hard as I stood on that spot, Dr. King's spot, John Lewis's spot on the Lincoln Memorial.
What this great National Mall had revealed to me on this morning, the sense it had made of my scrambled brain activity was this:
Our collective national, state and local efforts on behalf of music and arts for everyone are connected in real and meaningful ways to the through lines of our great national history.
We are just one small part of a much larger continuum; we are fulfilling the desires and dreams of our both our founding fathers and world leaders of our recent past that traverse across our history for centuries with a centrality to our humanity I had not really understood before.
The Mall reminded me how we had new icons in our midst as we tackled the current educational challenges of our time — From Congressman Lewis who spoke on our first night, to Bernie Williams (former Yankee now suiting up for the music and arts education team) who walked the halls of Congress with us. And sitting with us through it all, advising and counseling us throughout the week was the person I have placed on my own personal Mount Rushmore of individuals who have gone above and beyond for music and arts education, Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley. He is the man who when he had the chance showed true leadership by making music and the arts a core subject in federal law some twenty two years ago.
All of us who gathered in Washington, and indeed the thousands of people back in their own homes who advocate for music and arts education are just the current keepers of the flame… working to keep the dreams of our forefathers alive by protecting and advancing the right of this and the next generation of citizens to a complete education that includes music and the arts and to whom we shall pass this torch for them to carry on for the next.
We are building our chapter of this larger story and have been given great gifts of support, information and guidance to make a difference in Washington and our own communities right now.
We are the keepers of the flame handed down from our forefathers.
Our job, our obligation, and yes our duty is to not let them down.
"The Commandant's Own," The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps stepped
into the New Year completing their annual Spring Tour and is excited to have
performed in exhibition at the 2016 WGI World Championships in April. The
2016 Music in Motion show, entitled "A Celebration of Heroes," is a source
of pride for the Marines and includes powerful selections from Ottorino
Respighi, Vienna Teng's moving ballad 'The Hymn of Axiom' and John Philip
Sousa's patriotic classic 'The Stars & Stripes Forever.'
The Marines continue their pursuit of musical and marching excellence,
performing more than 400 ceremonies and concerts while traveling over 40,000
miles annually. Notable performances for the ensemble include concert
series' with the New York Philharmonic, a military tattoo for the Queen of
England, a performance for the Sultan of Oman, and ceremonies for the
President of the United States and American Ambassador in Paris, France.
This year the Drum & Bugle Corps is excited to continue valued partnerships
with Drum Corps International and Winter Guard International at select
Regional and Finals events, in addition to a growing partnership with Music
for All. The Marines of "The Commandant's Own" look forward to seeing you at
upcoming performances this summer and fall and should you find yourself in
the National Capitol Region over the summer months, we invite you take in a
Tuesday Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, VA or a
Friday Evening Parade at historic Marine Barracks in Washington, DC.
By James Stephens
Director of Education and Advocacy, Music for All
Often, when we hear discussion pertaining to the current state of scholastic music education, it is drenched in tones of doom and gloom. Certainly, the profession is experiencing no shortage of obstacles ranging from budget cuts to scheduling constraints. However, as of late, it has been my observation that where determination and dedication to arts education remain steadfast, instrumental music educators have afforded their students the most rewarding of performance experiences.
My recent travels, as well as positive reports from colleagues, have opened my eyes to some truly musical and well-rehearsed concert band and orchestra programs. During the months of March and April, Music for All had the privilege to present seven Regional Concert Band Festivals at a variety of locations across the country. The results have showcased some amazing teaching, wonderful musicianship, and high quality literature all present in our nation’s music classrooms.
"Music education is under a currently under a microscope. Many people are challenging the large ensemble concept of teaching students music," said Dr. Kevin Sedatole, director of bands at Michigan State University. As a frequent evaluator and clinician of the Music for All Festivals, Dr. Sedatole says, "The MFA Festivals, both national and regional, are a great example of thriving music education in the United States. I believe that the style of these MFA events, being non-competitive and more focused on music, gives great strength to the large ensemble concept of music education. As long as we keep the teaching of music as an art form at the forefront, the large ensemble format will continue to thrive."
Dr. Paula Crider, professor emerita at University of Texas Austin, having also served as a Music for All evaluator and clinician, says, "Music is essential to the human spirit. We must become more articulate spokespersons for the art of making music, so that music programs are not the first to be cut from schools. The entire spirit of the Music for All Festivals is one of shared joy in music-making and a sincere interest on the part of the conductors and musicians to learn from the experience."
Not only do these young musicians have the opportunity to perform for an appreciative audience, the post-performance clinic experience has become the "icing on the cake." I have been fortunate enough to observe some of these clinics, delivered by the likes of Richard Floyd, retired Director of Music at University of Texas Austin. Many times the ensemble has just given the performance of a lifetime, and it is through the clinic experience—working with clinicians at the highest level of music education--that these students are able to reflect on the power of live performance, as well as the importance of the entire ensemble in creating a successful performance. It is incredibly rewarding to witness that magical synergy that these young musicians experience while a skilled clinician offers some final touches.
"My message to high school directors is and will continue to be that the performance of music by ensembles is not about winning but about sharing the musical experience," says Sedatole. "These festivals offer a unique experience that celebrates music and musicianship. The opportunity to work with high-level conductors from high school, college, and professional ranks is very special."
These festivals have become a wonderful validation of the importance of music education, as well as a celebration of excellence in performance for students and their teachers.
In 2017, Music for All will expand the Regional Concert Band Festivals to ten locations including Russellville, Arkansas; Fresno, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Arlington Heights, Illinois; Lafayette, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Roxbury, New Jersey; Cincinnati, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah; Vancouver, Washington. Click here for more information on the Affiliate Music for All Regional Concert Festivals.
1. Our goal is to provide a positively life-changing experience for you and your students.
2. Bands of America Championships emphasize the pursuit of performance excellence and the educational experience of participation.
3. Participation offers students the chance to be placed on the nation’s highest pedestals, alongside their peers. Bands of America’s national promotional and social media programs shine a spotlight on your program and students to be recognized by band programs nationwide.
4. You’ll receive written and recorded evaluation from the Bands of America adjudication panel of respected music educators and marching experts.
5. All bands receive a Bands of America award, all students receive a recognition package of personalized certificate and participation patch.
BONUS REASON! Sunday morning clinic for directors and staff of participating bands – meet with members of the adjudication panel for private feedback on your BOA performance. Space for these optional, add-on clinics is limited, spots offer on a first-come, first-served basis. Watch this video to hear directors and judges talked about the clinics.
Then when you're ready to sign up, enroll online and secure your spot before the end of the school year.
Special note for Tacoma, WA Regional area bands: If considering, be sure to enroll by May 15. That is the date MFA will assess enrollment, and if minimum necessary enrollment is not met, must forfeit the stadium and cancel the Regional.
by Scott Casagrande
Director of Bands, John Hersey H.S., Arlington Heights, IL
and Music for All Educational Consultant
The Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, is the most prestigious festival of its kind in the United States and it continues to improve and grow each and every year.
As a conductor that has had four ensembles perform at the National Concert Band Festival since it's inception in 1992, I can safely say that the experience changed our band program positively each time we performed. In the 24 years of the festival's existence, I have attended all but two of the festivals. Recently, it has been a privilege and honor to be a part of the National Festival and contribute to its growth and impact on scholastic music-making.
Here is "top-ten" list of reasons to consider applying to the National Festival:
10. Your application recording will receive written and recorded feedback from leaders in our profession. Regardless of whether your ensemble is accepted into the National Festival, your application recording will receive taped and written feedback from the best in our business.
9. Indianapolis "rolls out the red carpet" for participating bands. The Music for All National Festival takes over downtown Indianapolis during the week of the event. Several hotels are utilized and music students, as well as their family and friends, fill the beautiful and safe downtown area.
8. A world-class recording of your performance will be provided. Professional recording engineers and producers work tirelessly to produce beautiful keepsakes of this memorable event. The highest quality professional equipment is used to produce these items that are included in your entry fee.
7. This festival is non-competitive once you are accepted. When you arrive in Indianapolis for the National Festival, the atmosphere is immediately supportive of students, conductors and the music-making of each performing ensemble. The competition is to be accepted and that is where the competition ends. There are no ratings or rankings.
6. Master classes with the best performers in the United States are a highlight of the festival. Every student participating in the festival will receive a master class from a world-class performer on their instrument with all of the other students that play their instrument in the festival.
5. All of the performance spaces are world class. Clowes Memorial Hall, Schrott Performing Arts Center, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Warren Center for the Performing Arts, and the Glick Indiana History Center are acoustically wonderful and beautiful spaces for the ensembles that perform.
4. The Opening Session and the Closing Gala Banquet are events that your students will never forget. Sharing the National Festival experience with the best scholastic performing ensembles in the United States will instill a sense of pride and confidence in your students like no other event. All students and directors in the festival, as well as the evaluators and clinicians, come together in one enormous banquet hall for these two events and the energy created in this room is palpable.
3. All of the ensemble evaluators and clinicians are the absolute best in our business. The panel of conductors and educators that contribute to this event are a veritable "who's who" of the music world. They are carefully chosen for their expertise and ability to connect with students and conductors. They travel from all over the United States to be a part of this event. The list of past clinicians and evaluators are indicated on the application.
2. This festival is all about your STUDENTS. The National Festival is 100% focused on creating an environment that inspires your students to love the art of music and to continue music-making when they leave your program. This is not a convention of band directors, orchestra directors, percussionists, etc. It's not a theme-park trip either. This is an event totally devoted and focused on student growth and the development of musical maturity. A secondary (and VERY important) focus of the festival is the growth of directors/conductors through the one-on-one mentoring session following your performance, the Meet the Masters dinner, director social events, and many other opportunities.
1. Your journey to perform the greatest music written will create a musically artistic experience like no other. That's what this festival is about. Enabling your students to create an amazing artistic performance that they will remember for a lifetime with other like-minded students and directors in a nurturing and supportive environment. There is no other event like this in the United States.
If you are interested, go here for more information and the application.
The application deadline for the 2017 Music for All National Festival is June 6, 2016.
We hope that you are interested in becoming a part of the living legacy of the Music for All National Festival.
Feel free to call the Music for All office with any questions regarding this application or event at 800.848.2263.