J.W. Pepper talked to current and former teachers during one of our summer workshops to get some ideas for starting the school year right. Here are some of their thoughts on topics including class preparation and lesson planning in the weeks ahead:
A large wall photo at a Philadelphia exhibition shows Leonard Bernstein during one of the most poignant days of his life – a day in 1948 when he conducted a concert with a small group of Holocaust survivors in Germany. The picture and the story behind the moment are part of the Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History. The presentation marks what would have been Bernstein’s 100th birthday in August 2018.
Tom Dean says when he worked as a music teacher he faced a daunting task every summer – the job of sorting through mountains of new sheet music to find the gems that might work for his school choirs. That changed when he discovered a service called Editors’ Choice. It made finding quality music much easier. Now Dean is J.W. Pepper’s Classroom and School Choral Editor, and he is part of the team that puts together the Editors’ Choice lists.
David Kim paused after playing a few exquisite bars of music on his Italian violin. The concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra seemed concerned that his instrument may be echoing too loudly across the sweeping multistory lobby of the Kimmel Center, where other people were working or visiting. This moment during our Pepper interview showcased both Kim’s humble nature and his concern for others – along with his extraordinary talent.
Teaching middle school tends to be “the road less traveled” for many new music educators. Sometimes this can be due to a lack of targeted training for middle school music, but more often it’s a fear of not knowing how to work with the physical and psychological changes experienced by this age group. Thankfully, there are experienced mentors like Cristi Miller who are more than willing to help other teachers develop skills that work for their classrooms. Miller is a frequent clinician at choral workshops such as the Joy of Singing, and Pepper was able to sit down with her to talk about teaching, composing, and inspiring the next generation.
Each year when the annual celebration of our nation’s birth approaches, patriotic music becomes more prevalent in our daily lives. These songs paint a picture of our nation through their spirited melodies and inspiring lyrics. This Independence Day, Pepper has compiled some of our blogs about our national anthem, the “March King,” and other patriotic sheet music, along with interviews with some of the masters of military music.
Summer can be a welcome break from the usual school-year routine and offers some unique opportunities for your private piano students. No school (or homework!) allows more time to experiment on the piano. Flexibility during the day also means you can alter scheduling and plan duet lessons or have a daytime piano camp. Of course, teachers always consider how to make piano lessons fun, and to help with that, we explore some summer ideas and resources.
Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
Sight reading is a wonderful assessment of musical literacy, but it can take time for students to learn this skill. This is why I advocate for having an organized and methodical plan to give students sight reading opportunities throughout the year. Over the course of my 26 years of teaching music in Texas, I have found that focusing time on sight reading each week has really paid off. First, the amount of preparation time for our formal concert literature has been reduced. Secondly, our performance quality has improved, providing a much deeper musical experience for the audience.
When browsing the choral sheet music collections of any music educator, one might be struck by the wide range of styles and themes present as well as the myriad composers who have graced the world with their art. One name stands out, however, not only for his prolific output, but also for his practicality and his dedication to creating music that is accessible to young voices without sacrificing its integrity. That name is Roger Emerson.