Middle & High School Winter Concert Recordings

Below I have posted links to our recordings from the winter concert. The first 3 songs were performed by a combined middle and high school group. I have done this the last few years because of lack of instrumentation in the middle school. The glaring thing that needs work in these recordings to me is intonation. I welcome your input upon hearing these as well. I tried to use the wordpress embedded player for these files, but for whatever reason, it didn’t seem to want to play them from drop.io. Any thoughts on that would also be appreciated, as I would rather use the embedded player than the links. Thanks!

I should also mention some info about the bands that you are hearing. These groups meet 2 and 3 days a week only, due to our scheduling. The Middle School Band instrumentation is as follows:
2 Flutes
6 Clarinets
1 Trumpet
2 French Horns
2 Trombones
4 Percussion
1 Mallets

High School Band:
2 Flutes
4 Clarinets
1 Alto Saxophone
1 Tenor Saxophone
3 Trumpets
2 Trombones
1 Tuba
8 Percussion
2 Mallets

The 7th & 8th grade bands perform together, even though the meet during separate periods. Also, 9th & 10th grade students meet a separate period from 11th & 12th, but they also perform as one ensemble.

Song for the Winter Moon – MS & HS
Do You Hear…? – MS & HS
Oh Hanukkah – MS & HS
Fa Una Canzona – HS
Prelude on Greensleeves – HS

Musicianship & Musicality vs. “The Entertainment Factor”

Last night, I attended an excellent choral concert given by our new choir director here in the district. While I was impressed with the concert, I couldn’t help leaving there somewhat down. I talked with the choir director this morning and asked him if he thought the level of musicianship in our groups was about the same. He actually told me that he thought the band was slightly better, which I was pleasantly surprised by. At any rate, what made me down was that even though I thought our groups were musically equal, I knew that he and his program would receive much more recognition for their performance than the band ever would. I think this is due in part to a few things – 1) There are hundreds of kids in the choirs, as compared to a mere 40 in the middle and high school bands – Thus increasing the concert attendance for the choir 10-fold. 2) The choir program here has a rich history of outstanding groups and programs. The choir program also includes an outstanding show choir, which generally performs about 20-30 public shows per year. This helps to fuel the program, and get public recognition. I wish that I could get my jazz band going enough to act in a similar fashion for the band program. When I was in high school, our jazz ensemble performed in the community regularly, and it was a great ambassador for our band program and school.

While talking with the choir director this morning, something occurred to me. I don’t think it will matter how “good” my ensembles get musically. It will matter to me and possibly the students, of course, but I don’t think the audience will care much. What the audience wants is entertainment. So, then, the great question becomes How do I get the group playing at a very high level, and yet entertain my audience? Do I need a gimmick? Do I just do a “light piece” or two on my concerts? What do you do to combine the two? If I can successfully do this, will my bands get more recognition? And, I guess a more broad question – How am I going to improve my band’s visibility in the community, thus gathering more recognition? I may need to launch a PR department! Thoughts?

25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

I am re-posting this from Andy Zweibel‘s blog.  I found this amusing, and yet, at the same time, all too true!

This was an article referenced in a letter to the editor of the November 2008 issue of The Instrumentalist magazine. The article originally appeared in a 1951 issue of The Instrumentalist. I thought it was funny, so I’ll repost it here. No author is credited, so credit to The Instrumentalist as a whole, I suppose…

25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

  1. Buy him the cheapest instrument possible so he can look forward to earning a better one.
  2. Always point out all his shortcomings; never praise. There’s no sense in spoiling him.
  3. Always call him for practice when the ball game is going best; call in a loud demanding voice so his friends will feel sorry for him.
  4. Insist he practice at a certain time each day without exception. Lay down the law. “Either you practice when I say, or you quit!”
  5. Insist he practice the most uninteresting music the longest. You can’t learn to play an instrument by playing tunes.
  6. Don’t invite other children over to play instruments with your child. They make too much noise, kill too much time, have too much fun, and track in too much dirt.
  7. be sure to mention at the dinner table how little your child has practiced each day.
  8. Never help him with his practicing. There is never time.
  9. Add another hour of practice when he misbehaves.
  10. Call loudly from the kitchen or basement every time he makes a mistake. Make jokes such as “Was that a sick cat I heard?” and “If you can’t do better than that, you should give up.”
  11. Stop him if he practices anything for fun other than his lesson. Music is serious.
  12. Threaten periodically to stop his lessons unless: (a) he practices much more, (b) he plays better than another student, (c) he takes better care of his instrument, (d) he gets beter grades, (e) he makes his bed each morning, (f) he treats his parents with more respect.
  13. Insist on perfection in everything connected with his music; 100% or its no good. He’ll appreciate this when he grows up.
  14. Don’t let him play for his friends or anybody else until he can really play the instrument well. After two or three years he’ll be able to surprise them.
  15. Catch him off guard the first time you want him to play for someone and ask him in front of everybody to play something. If he refuses, insis that he play; if he still refuses, announce that he’s through with music. By all means don’t help him select and work up a number to play for company.
  16. Rest your nerves after a hard day’s work by telling him not to practice where you can hear him. “Take that thing down to the basement. Don’t I deserve a little peace and quiet?”
  17. Insist that he take private lessons from the strictest, driest teacher in town.
  18. Be sure to point out his shortcomings often, especially in front of the teacher or fellow students. It will make a better impression then.
  19. Don’t take him to a concert until he’s old enough, and don’t take him unless he can play well enough to appreciate it.
  20. Insist he can’t take band or orchestra unless his grades improve in academic subjects. Band is just play.
  21. Insist that he take a foreign language in high school instead of band or orchestra.
  22. Don’t pay attention to his music making; you don’t care whether he practices.
  23. Use music as a wedge for getting other things done. Threaten to cut off his lessons if he doesn’t wash the dishes every night.
  24. Don’t buy him a good instrument until he plays extremely well. No sense in wasting money.
  25. With some parents, the real secret is to nag effectively and regularly. Others manage to ruin their child’s music-making by disregarding it almost completely.

It is not necessary to apply all 25. Usually one or two will do the job.

This American Life – Music Lessons

Someone forwarded this episode of “This American Life” from NPR to me, and I found it very entertaining as a music teacher.  Below is the description from the TAL website.  Click on “Full Episode” under the graphic to stream it.  Enjoy!

104: Music Lessons

What’s frustrating about music lessons, what’s miraculous about them, and what they actually teach us. This show was recorded in front of a live audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, with help from KQED-FM, during the ’98 Public Radio Conference in San Francisco.