“The future of music may not be with music itself, but rather....in the way it makes itself a part of the finer things humanity does and dreams of.”1
Every decision that we make as teachers, musical and extra-musical, is a reflection of our values. In the case of repertoire selection, the critical balance of aesthetic criteria and personal taste defines that value system. While aesthetic criteria may be more easily agreed upon, the issue of personal taste is more elusive to define, yet, may represent the most important component of this delicate musical eco-system.
Acton Ostling’s landmark dissertation, An Evaluation of Compositions for Wind Band According to Specific Criteria of Artistic Merit3 (1978) established important guidelines for the critical evaluation of musical compositions:
Good music, therefore, has form with a calculated balance of repetition and contrast that great composers manipulate to create and to break our musical expectations. Predictability is the death of great music as is music with little variation in orchestration and timbre. Good music is music that can hold the attention of its listeners and can be remembered through the creative use of rhythm, counterpoint, harmonic color, harmonic motion, melodic interest, and unique textures. Good music is also music that can transport us to different emotional landscapes. Great music is music that makes us feel.
Every piece of music considered for programming should be evaluated using these criteria as a general guide. Aesthetic criteria, however, have little meaning without the context of a distinct musical depth and a distinct musical intelligence that we, as musicians and artists, are required to bring to this process of decision-making.
Personal Taste and Musical Depth
Personal taste, musical depth, and musical intelligence are the result of our direct experiences with great art, great music, and great artists. Being an artist in any field is much more than a prescribed level of accomplishment. Being an artist is a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of perceiving and sensing our reality and understanding the entire spectrum of human experiences, from the most grotesque to the most sublime, and from the most tragic to the most trivial. The following questions may help to guide us on this journey of developing musical depth and personal taste:
Vandoren has been the preferred reed of professionals since 1905. However, during much of this time beginning students have often had to resort to inexpensive, lower quality reeds to save money. With Vandoren’s introduction of JUNO reeds in recent years, beginning students are finally able to enjoy that trademark, unparalleled Vandoren quality from their first note at an affordable student price.
Designed specifically for beginners, Vandoren JUNO reeds are designed with a special cut that provides young players with everything they need to hit the ground running – immediate response, easy articulation, and a warm, round sound right from the start. Instead of fighting against their reeds, JUNO allows kids to do what they want to do most – PLAY!
“My students have been very successful on JUNO reeds! The ease of playing with these reeds allows students to focus on other concepts that we're building upon in rehearsal, without sacrificing quality of sound.” – Chris DiMassimo, beginning and Middle School Band Director
Vandoren is keenly aware of the musical needs of young musicians, and is extremely proud to offer a variety of products appropriate for each stage of their development. Most students who begin with JUNO will move to professional Vandoren reeds as they develop.
JUNO reeds are available for Eb, Bb and bass clarinet as well as soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.
Above: the "after" photos. See the "before" photos at the bottom of the story.
When Wenger Corporation got the call from a producer at The Ellen DeGeneres Show about participating in a music room makeover to help two local drummers at a Baltimore High School, they simply had to say yes.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show introduced Baltimore drummers Timothy Fletcher and Malik Perry, better known as A1 Chops, to the world. The duo began drumming in high school and decided to take their talents to the streets of Baltimore performing songs with complex drum tricks and popular dance moves. Ellen brought them on her show to perform and show how the two have been giving back to their community along the way.
Wenger partnered with their team to supply a roomful of equipment that converted an old, outdated and disorganized music room into a beautiful, orderly, acoustically superior space. Wenger items now installed include acoustic wall treatments, music chairs, music stands, instrument storage cabinets and conductor’s equipment.
Watch the series and the students’ emotional reactions to the stunning new space on ellentube. The music room makeover portion airs during episodes three and four.
"Before" the music room makeover.
Savannah Mellichamp of Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina was awarded The Revelli Scholarship on Saturday, March 16 during the Gala Awards Banquet at the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, in Indianapolis.
The Revelli Scholarship is a $1,000 award given annually to a senior who will be attending college as a music major and who is participating in the Music for All National Festival. The scholarship honors the legacy and memory of Dr. William D. Revelli and his vision for music education.
In addition to being an Honor Band of America member and a two-time Summer Symposium participant, Savannah has performed in South Carolina's All State and All Region ensembles for three years. As a drum major at Wando High School, she believes music has shaped her into who she is today and she recognizes that music education changes lives. She looks forward to becoming a music educator!
Congratulations to the 2019 Revelli Scholarship Recipient, Savannah Mellichamp
The three newest members of Music for All's Bands of America Hall of Fame were inducted Saturday night, March 16, at the Gala Awards Banquet of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, in Indianapolis, IN.
Gayl W. Doster, Robert W. Smith, and David Starnes were inducted during a ceremony at the 2,800+ guest Festival Banquet in the JW Marriott Grand Ballroom.
Please join us in welcoming Courtney Richmond to the Finance Team as the Accounts Receivable Clerk!
Courtney is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in arts management and minors in marketing and music. While at Indiana University, Courtney was a member of the Marching Hundred, Big Red Basketball Band, and Tau Beta Sigma-Rho Chapter, where she held leadership positions. Richmond spent the last two summers working with Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival doing community relations and visual design. Most recently, Courtney served as an Events Intern at Music for All in the Fall of 2018.
"We are so excited to have Courtney join the Accounting Team,” says Sarah Loughery, Music for All Controller. “With her previous experience as an Events Intern and her attention to detail, she is a natural fit to join us as an Accounts Receivable Clerk. We are glad to welcome Courtney back to our family!"
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Music for All, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 educational organization that presents more than 45 programs and events across America annually and is a voice advocating for music and arts education in all scholastic environments.
Jason Max Ferdinand, Conductor of the Oakwood Aeolians has been named Associate Artistic Director of the Music for All National Choir Festival. “I am filled with joy that Jason has accepted this position,” stated Henry Leck, Founding Artistic Director of Music for All Choral Activities. “Jason has a magnificent sense of artistry. His affirming and inspiring heart is truly aligned with the Music for All philosophy of positively life-changing experiences through music.”
Ferdinand, known for his focus to “Execute the all-important crescendo…the crescendo of the human heart,” serves as Chair of the Music Department and Director of Choral Activities at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. A native of Trinidad & Tobago, Ferdinand received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Oakwood University in Piano, the Master of Arts in Choral Conducting from Morgan State University and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with a minor in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Maryland.
Under the baton of Dr. Ferdinand, the Oakwood Aeolians have won numerous gold medals at the World Choir Games in the United States and South Africa; were named “Choir of the World” at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, and were the featured choir in Russia as part of the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission on development of cooperation between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama. During the recent American Choral Directors Conference, the Oakwood Aeolians became a popular featured choir by presenting a program of international music ranging from Bach to Ken Burton’s “Promised Land.”
The Music for All National Choir Festival is for advanced High School and Middle School Choirs who audition for invitation. Held annually in Indianapolis Indiana, the Festival is part of the bigger Music for All National Festival that includes Concert Band, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble and Chamber Ensembles.
It is with an enormous sense of loss that I acknowledge the passing of my colleague and friend Dr. Joe Flummerfelt. I really only got to know Joe well after he moved to Indianapolis, but immediately he felt like a life-long friend. He never took the time a brag about himself or his accomplishments. You sort of had to find out about his greatness indirectly. With his character of humility and calmness he always seemed much more interested in what others were doing or in the music itself. This last year he and I attended a dress rehearsal of Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion at Indiana University. We walked into the quiet, near empty auditorium, sat down …. and almost immediately there was a flock of doctoral choral students surrounding us, each paying tribute and offering their unbridled admiration and thanks to the maestro. He had previously just done a week of seminars. Then as the rehearsal was getting ready to begin. Krzysztof Penderecki and his wife entered and immediately they rushed over to greet their lifelong friend. Little did I know that Joe had been instrumental in the American premiere of the work with Robert Shaw. You could immediately feel the mutual love and respect between these colleagues. Penderecki immediately saw that we had a full score to follow during the rehearsal. We shared the score … commented on various sections and had a very complete musical evening. But I noticed something….. Joe didn’t really need the score. He knew the work. If you want to know about the professional accomplishments of Joe Flummerfelt, you don’t have to look very far. He prepared choruses for the New York Philharmonic and nearly all the great conductors for years. His recordings from Westminster Choir College are a testament to his knowledge of the craft and the art of choral music. As I think of him today I realize we not only suffer the loss of a friend but also his wealth of knowledge, insight and experience.
When it came to starting a new project in Indianapolis… (the Music for All National Choir Festival), Joe was one of our strongest supporters. He loved choral music and loved the idea of creating more choral music in his home city. But he took on the mantle of helping conductors grow. He became a teacher to each conductor by providing a “Conductor’s Critique” experience. Each conductor was video recorded in performance. He created written comments and then met individually with each of them. Almost without exception, the conductors considered it to be a life changing experience. This position at the festival will continue in his honor.
Joe we will miss you, but your friendship, your teaching, your humility, your leadership, and your love for choral music will remain with us always. Thank you my friend.
Music for All is mourning the loss of Marla D. Smith, a member of our Board of Directors, who passed away February 19, 2019. Born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on January 3, 1946, Marla brought to Music for All not only her expertise as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager, but her lifetime of passion as a featured and state champion twirler and a Westfield High School Marching Band (IN) Band Parent.
Marla will be greatly missed. She is survived by her husband, Tony Smith, daughter, Dede (Felice) Panarisi, grandson, Robert Panarisi, granddaughter, Megan Panarisi, other relatives and many friends.
Every band director aspires for success, especially in the early years of our careers. Far too often, I see that directors doubt themselves and don’t reach the level of achievement they yearn for. In no way, shape, or form, do I consider myself to be an expert, but I do say this: whatever it is that you want for your program, is possible.
Growing up in the Harrison County school system in Cynthiana, KY, there were always high expectations for the success of our music programs. We were consistently state finalists on the marching field, and had distinguished concert and choral programs. Occasionally, we fell short of our goals, but the early-learned expectations stuck with me.
Chris Hedges’ (one of my high school band directors) words always stuck with me: “If you choose to compete, then you have to choose to accept the results.” He was so right. The only thing that I had to do, was decide what I was willing to accept.
Now, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m a fresh-faced, right out of the gate educator. I began my career in 2014 at Harrison County High School, where I worked for a year and a half as the choral director and assistant director of the marching band. With all of the excitement of beginning a career came a countless number of mistakes. Instead of allowing situations to just be mistakes, I began to turn them into learning opportunities. Needless to say, I became well-educated in this area.
During this time in my career, I began to understand exactly which types of results I was willing to accept. Our marching band was in a state of regrowth. We placed in the state semifinals during those two years. It was not a high placement, but we made it. My choirs grew in number and received proficient ratings at our performance assessments – not “bad,” but it wasn’t something that I was willing to accept.
In the winter of 2015, I accepted the job as the assistant band director at Bourbon County with Eric Hale – a legend in my eyes and one of my former band directors. In the two years that he and I worked together, I truly learned what it meant to make the results you want happen. Due to the band’s historic success, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase: “there is something in the water in Bourbon County.” Despite these rumors, it isn’t magic or super powers that have led to our triumphs. There is just a lot of hard work paired with smart decision-making taking place.
I know everyone reading this must be thinking, “I thought this article was about their success this year?” It is. All of these moments led to the possibility for this success. The 2018 school year was my first shot at being a head director after Mr. Hale retired, and I decided that I wasn’t going to blow it. I don’t think there is a single person who is familiar with our program that didn’t expect things to decline. Those expectations gave me a challenge, and as a fan of challenges I was happy to accept.
Previously, I mentioned smart decision-making as being an integral part of our success. If I’m being totally honest, by most people’s standards, there wasn’t a lot of that taking place on my part. Throughout my recruiting process, I decided that I wanted to have a 120-member band – the biggest in our school’s history – another challenge. I made it happen. The largest hurdle on that path, was the fact that having a larger band would mean having a larger class of new marchers (43 to be exact). In Kentucky, some schools choose to utilize 7th and 8th grade students for marching band. Bourbon County is especially known for doing this. I made the decision to have thirty-two 7th graders and nineteen 8th graders. Overall, I had around 70 kids that were freshman and below. At an early competition, W. Dale Warren served as a clinician. There aren’t words to describe the look on his face when I told him about the makeup of our band. All he said was that there was a lot of work to be done. He was beyond correct.
Due to budgetary restraints, Eric Hale always wrote his own drill and arranged his own music at Bourbon County. I chose to continue this tradition. When constructing the show, I had several colleagues listen as I arranged, went through an editing process, and made sure that the music was coming across how I intended. The first draft of the show seemed like it was going to work.
This season didn’t start off strong. We spent our first local competition in 3rd place at a show we had won in 2017. We were 12th place at the BOA Oxford regional. I believe this may have been the first time that our band sat out of finals competition in at least 11 years. We were class champions, but there was still disappointment. Our in-state rival, Russell County, was over 5 points ahead of us. We decided that we weren’t able to accept these results. I wasn’t going to let my kids experience failure, so we pushed forward. We went back and took a closer look at the construction of our show and made changes accordingly, adjusted practice schedules, and focused on the minute detailing of every moment – basically, we worked harder. Throughout the season, my goal was to teach my students that the band who worked the hardest would gain the biggest payoff. They bought in to the concept, and it paid off.
We ended our season as the Class AAA Kentucky State Champions and the BOA Grand National Class A Champion.
Personally, it was a great accomplishment in my “first year” as a director. I loved that my kids were able to experience performing at that level. In our pre-semifinals performance at Grand Nationals, I told the kids (while fighting back tears) that they had truly made all of my dreams come true. Growing up, I watched my friends at Bourbon County win state and national titles. All I could do was dream about being at that level. Becoming a band director, I sought to give my kids everything that I didn’t get to experience. I can say that I’ve done that now. KMEA and BOA will forever have my gratitude for giving educators the chance to highlight just what these young people can do.
Close colleagues ask me what’s next for Bourbon County and Michael Stone. Other than spending some time with my partner, Josh, and rounding out the concert program, no one knows. When we figure it out, we’ll be sure to let each of you see.