The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Stories

HSPVA is one of the top-ranked performing arts schools in the country, whose mission is to provide a balanced program of challenging academics and rigorous training in the arts. The school focuses on six art areas: vocal music, instrumental music, dance, theatre, visual art, and creative writing.

HSPVA was originally built in 1971 and had experienced piecemeal renovations as the school aged. It was bursting at the seams with more students across the country interested in attending. After an extensive search for a new facility, school administration decided to open a new location in downtown Houston and design a building to meet the growing needs of the school.

Updated Technology

The $88 million project would ultimately feature specialized performance and fine arts spaces to enhance the artistic environment of the school. Architects created a five-story, 168,000-square-foot building featuring a dramatic front entrance with double-high glass windows and a wide stairwell, 800-seat main theater with a balcony, dance and music studios, 150-seat recital hall, 200-seat theater, 190-seat black box theater, rehearsal rooms, modern outdoor dining area, two levels of underground parking and an outdoor roof terrace.

The beautiful exterior needed to be matched with first-class music education equipment on the inside.

Band, Orchestra, and Vocal Rehearsal Spaces

For any student practicing their instrument, keeping environmental noise out is critical. A sound isolation practice room can help them fine-tune their performance and concentrate on their craft.

Administration opted for Wenger’s SoundLok® Practice Rooms with superior sound isolation. Each room is 25 percent quieter than any other practice room available. Built-in absorption and diffusion enables the musician to clearly hear the best possible sound. The rooms also have built-in virtual acoustic environment (VAE®) technology, allowing the musician to learn how to adapt to performing in different performance spaces and get immediate feedback with record/playback during the practice session.

“Our students are really enjoying the new practice rooms and experimenting with the virtual acoustics,” Orchestra Director Dr. Brad Smith says. “We also like the fact that there are glass doors on them so we can see what’s going on and potentially help them if they need assistance.”

To round out the first-rate equipment, music administrators also chose the company’s durable stands and chairs to serve a variety of performance needs. They opted for cabinets that keep instruments well organized when not in use, and a portable stage and riser system to prepare them for any number of rehearsal situations.

“I am most excited about the shelving and the music library in the new space,” Dr. Smith says. “Being able to organize all of our instruments, sheet music and other items means I can devote more time to the students, rather than searching for miscellaneous items.”

Denney Theatre

The heart and soul of the building is the 800-seat Denney Theatre, which is utilized for a variety of performance types ranging from orchestra and choral to dance, theatre, and lectures. To enhance the sound quality and ability to cater to these performers, teams installed a new custom acoustical shell, a motion control system, rigging systems and hoists and lightweight choral risers that can easily be set up or stored as needed.

“Students are getting great experience working with this cutting-edge equipment,” explains Costume Design Manager Paul Davis. “The students are very pleased with the new equipment,” says Choral Director Pat Bonner. “This is advanced equipment that they haven’t seen in other schools.”

She says it’s also a treat for the staff to have a superior shell and risers after years of making due with inferior equipment.

“We have worked so hard for so long that we have earned the right to be proud of this lovely theatre, which is the jewel of our campus,” Bonner says. “Audiences that come will enjoy it just as much as we do.”

Black Box Theatre

One of the main benefits of a Black Box Theatre is its versatility. The simplicity of the space is used to create a flexible stage and audience interaction. The use of staging and lighting in Black Box Theatres can range from extremely minimal to very elaborate, depending on the performance.

Portable audience seating and risers included in this space provided flexible configurations for the theatre’s many needs. They’re lightweight, strong, and easy and quick to set up or move.

Time to Shine

With all of the new equipment successfully installed, it was time for the school to open its doors. Everybody raved.

“HSPVA is now able to provide the best music education for our students, and to prepare them to be the best musicians they can be in the future with his new facility,” Dr. Smith says. “Our students and faculty now have access to practice and performance facilities that are some of the best in the industry. Very few high school students around the nation have access to this type of space.”

The equipment in the new facility is providing students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to improve their performances, continuing the school’s long-standing tradition and nationwide acknowledgement of excellence.

“Kinder HSPVA is truly a school like no other,” says Principal Scott Allen. “As I walk the hallways of the school and observe students studying and participating in the creative arts, I realize how fortunate they are to have a fine arts campus to attend in the Houston Independent School District.”

Get a Glimpse of HSPVA’s Rehearsal Room

For more about HSPVA, please click here. For more about Wenger’s Music Education solutions, please visit wengercorp.com.

What is your hometown? City, State.
Hinsdale, New Hampshire

Where did you go to high school? Where did you go to college and when did you/will you graduate?
Muldrow High School in Oklahoma! I currently go to Arkansas Tech University and plan to graduate with my Music Education degree May 2020.

Meeka1

What is your musical background?
I have been involved with music ever since 6th grade! I was instantly in love with the flute and continued on to hold several leadership positions in my high school band. I now serve as a 2nd year teaching assistant with the Arkansas Tech Band of Distinction and am also a 3rd year member of our Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

What has been your favorite part of this internship experience?
I’ve loved being able to contribute to something bigger than myself, but working with Music for All has also allowed me to break out of my comfort zone and shown me resources I didn’t know existed for music educators. I get to live somewhere new while experiencing a different side of music!

Meeka2

What is an interesting fact about you?
I am a pro Olympic player of Facebook Messenger games... including the basketball one.

Who are your top three favorite artists?
The Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, and Nova & the Experience

Would you rather be able to talk to animals or speak all the foreign languages?
While I would like to know what’s running through my cat’s head, I think it’d be better to be able to communicate with an infinite number of people! Plus, I assume that means I would be able to read Egyptian Hieroglyphics too!

What division at camp would you want to participate in if you were still in school?
That’s so hard to choose, but I think I would lean more toward Marching Band!

Meeka3

What are you currently reading?
I have been pulling inspiration from a book called Words I Wish I Wrote by Robert Fulghum a lot recently!

Do you have a favorite quote?
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” -Jennifer Lee

What show have you binge watched recently?
Somewhat unashamed to say I binged the Society recently on a whim.

What actor or actress would play you in a movie written about your life?
Well, this was a bit hard to figure out, but I think Awkwafina!

 

What is your hometown? City, State.
Madison, IN.

Where did you go to high school? Where did you go to college and when did you/will you graduate?
Madison Consolidated High School and Ball State University. I graduated from Ball State in May of this year.

EmilyH1

What is your musical background?
I played the trumpet until high school, but I am more into music business now. Besides being the Advancement Intern at Music for All, I also work at a concert venue and had an externship with Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this summer.

EmilyH2

What has been your favorite part of this internship experience?
It is cool to learn about how nonprofits are funded and be a part of that process. Music for All does so much good for students and educators across the nation, and I love being a little piece that enables us to do these great things.

What is an interesting fact about you?
I recently won a regional Emmy for a documentary I produced.

EmilyH3

Who are your top three favorite artists?
Walk the Moon, Judah and the Lion, and Vance Joy.

Would you rather be able to talk to animals or speak all the foreign languages?
I would love to speak all of the foreign languages. Communication between people of different cultures is so important for growth and learning, and language can be such a barrier.

What division at camp would you want to participate in if you were still in school?
Jazz Band for sure! That was my favorite when I played the trumpet.

What are you currently reading?
I have not had time to recently, but I love Nicholas Sparks. I will probably read his most recent novel soon..

Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life is what happens when you are outside of your comfort zone.”

What show have you binge watched recently?
I watched all of Stranger Things 3 recently. It was so good, and I sobbed like a baby. Now I am starting Queer Eye Season 4.

What actor or actress would play you in a movie written about your life?
I would say probably Jennifer Lawrence because she is goofy, tall, and loves to eat!

Many places you can shop, including the following brands, have loyalty programs:

  • AmazonSmile: Support MFA while shopping on Amazon! Visit smile.amazon.com, select Music for All, and start shopping. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Music for All.
  • Soon you will be able to shop at Goodshop, Kroger, Target, and other retailers, and a percentage of your purchase will be donated back to “Music for All”.

Donate your car or truck to MFA– CARS

      1.Picks up your vehicle
      2.Gives you the full market value for your vehicle
      3.Completes all the state and federal tax forms required for your tax deduction
      4.Music for All receives the vehicle’s sale without tying up the staff with paperwork.
      5.And, when you utilize CARS, you can donate most anything on wheels.

This is a hassle free way to give to MFA and a good way to get your garage or driveway back to what it was intended for.

Watch how it works:

Im Interested

Appreciated stock, held for more than one year, can be the ideal choice for individuals who want their gifts to make the biggest impact for the lowest possible cost. The secret ingredient: double tax benefits.

This is how it works. Suppose Ann gives MFA 100 shares of a stock she purchased 10 years ago for $1,000. That stock has risen to its current fair market value of $5,000. Today, Ann can deduct the full $5,000 on this year’s income tax return. The $4,000 capital gain is not taxed, even though the gain is quadruple the purchase price. Avoiding capital gains tax and receiving an income tax deduction makes it possible to give stock at the lowest possible after-tax cost.

Which stocks are best to give? The best choices depend on your portfolio, investment goals, and taxes. There are no definite rules for suitable stocks, but there are a few guidelines:

  • Stocks must have been held for more than one year to deduct the appreciation.
  • Stocks with the greatest amount of appreciation provide the most leverage for the untaxed gain.
  • Investors who follow set portfolio ratios (e.g., 40% stocks, 40% municipal bonds, and 20% cash) might choose to give a stock that would provide an opportunity to reposition investments, balance ratios, and enjoy valuable tax relief.
  • A stock that lowered or cut its dividend might be a good option.

If you have questions, speak with your tax advisor or stockbroker. Then, contact Paul St. Angelo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 317.636.2263 for instructions on stock transfers.

Appreciated stock, held for more than one year, can be the ideal choice for individuals who want their gifts to make the biggest impact for the lowest possible cost. The secret ingredient: double tax benefits.

This is how it works. Suppose Ann gives MFA 100 shares of a stock she purchased 10 years ago for $1,000. That stock has risen to its current fair market value of $5,000. Today, Ann can deduct the full $5,000 on this year’s income tax return. The $4,000 capital gain is not taxed, even though the gain is quadruple the purchase price. Avoiding capital gains tax and receiving an income tax deduction makes it possible to give stock at the lowest possible after-tax cost.

Which stocks are best to give? The best choices depend on your portfolio, investment goals, and taxes. There are no definite rules for suitable stocks, but there are a few guidelines:

  • Stocks must have been held for more than one year to deduct the appreciation.
  • Stocks with the greatest amount of appreciation provide the most leverage for the untaxed gain.
  • Investors who follow set portfolio ratios (e.g., 40% stocks, 40% municipal bonds, and 20% cash) might choose to give a stock that would provide an opportunity to reposition investments, balance ratios, and enjoy valuable tax relief.
  • A stock that lowered or cut its dividend might be a good option.

If you have questions, speak with your tax advisor or stockbroker. Then, contact Paul St. Angelo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 317.636.2263 for instructions on stock transfers.

Music for All’s efforts to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences include awarding a number of scholarships each year for students and directors to attend the Summer Symposium. You can help provide “a positively life-changing experience” of summer learning and music-making for students who may not otherwise be able to attend camp.

  • L.J. Hancock Summer Symposium Scholarships (for Students)
  • Tang Family Scholarship Fund (for Students)
  • Marion County Scholarships (for Students)
  • Mark Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund (for Directors and Future Music Educators)

For more information on each of the Scholarships above click here.

Invest

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Are you a SWAG?

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Are you a SWAG?

The SWAG Team is the heart and soul of the Summer Symposium. SWAGs are a volunteer group of dedicated college students, graduate students, band directors, and others interested in music education. Music for All is starting a new SWAG Alumni Program for this very special group of alumni, and we need your help! The purpose of the SWAG Alumni Program is to:

  • Gather and share memories from the Music for All Summer Symposium
  • Assist with identifying, recruiting, and engaging future SWAGs and SWAG alumni
  • Help tell others “the story” of Music for All and the Summer Symposium.

If you’re a former SWAG, we need your help as we work to update contact information for all SWAGs. Please take a moment to update your contact info. Music for All staff will use this information to keep you informed about our new alumni program and facilitate a special gathering in the future. Thank you for the enormous help and involvement at the Summer Symposium. You’re an important member of the Music for All Team!

Help us keep in touch by filling out the contact form here.

From: Selecting Repertoire: A Matter of Conscience A Personal Viewpoint by Craig Kirchhoff

“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
Charles Ives

cropped Kirchhoff CraigEvery 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.

Aesthetic Criteria

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:

  1. The composition has form--not 'a form' but form--and reflects a proper balance between repetition and contrast.
  2. The composition reflects shape and design, and creates the impression of conscious choice and judicious arrangement on the part of the composer.
  3. The composition reflects craftsmanship in orchestration, demonstrating a proper balance between transparent and tutti scoring, and also between solo and group colors.
  4. The composition is sufficiently unpredictable to preclude an immediate grasp of its musical meaning.
  5. The route through which the composition travels in initiating its musical tendencies and probable musical goals is not completely direct and obvious
  6. The composition is consistent in its quality throughout its length and in its various sections.
  7. The composition is consistent in its style, reflecting a complete grasp of technical details, clearly conceived ideas, and avoids lapses into trivial, futile, or unsuitable passages.
  8. The composition reflects ingenuity in its development, given the stylistic context in which it exists.
  9. The composition is genuine in idiom, and is not pretentious.
  10. The composition reflects a musical validity that transcends idiom, and is not pretentious.

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:

  1. Are you in touch with the great musical monuments of our time and the past, from Claudio Monteverdi to Duke Ellington, John Harbison, Joan Tower, or Aaron Kernis?
  2. Do you attend live concerts of high quality by important ensembles and by important artists?
  3. Are you knowledgeable about music that does not directly affect your specific level of teaching but may directly affect your depth as a musician, from Johann Sebastian Bach to Libby Larsen, Henryk Gorecki, George Crumb, or Morton Lauridsen?
  4. Do you know as much about the most important musicians and composers of our time and the past as you know about the music for the ensembles that you conduct?
  5. Are you current with the repertoire written for your ensemble, knowing about the latest works from the pen of Michael Colgrass for middle school band, or the most recent publications from the BandQuest Series published by the American Composers Forum or the Windependence Series published by Boosey & Hawkes?
  6. Do you invest in the depth of your listening experience by continually expanding your collection of CDs and DVDs?
  7. Do you continue to make music an important part of your daily life?
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The First Year: Anything Can Happen

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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.

Bourbon1

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.

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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.

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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.

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