Directors' Toolbox

How to Plan Visuals for Your Marching Band

April 18, 2019

The pressure to create visually spectacular marching band shows can be high in the age of short attention spans, reality TV competition shows, and social media. Some large universities have met the challenge by creating exciting performances featuring drill sets with detailed picture formations and transitions. Many high schools have responded by incorporating creative and challenging shows. Regardless the level of complexity, some basics need to be in place to help students entertain the crowds. Here are some ideas on how to help your students have the best marching experience possible.

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Music Advocacy

“Deep Field”: Exploring the Connections Between Science and Music

April 11, 2019

Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre and the late “Mother of Hubble” Nancy Grace Roman had something in common when they were children: they both enjoyed watching the stars at night. For Roman, the interest was encouraged by her mother, a music teacher. Roman’s early stargazing eventually led her to become a renowned NASA astronomer who led planning for the Hubble Space Telescope and lobbied Congress for funding. For Whitacre, his childhood experiences compelled him to create a powerful composition and film about Hubble’s findings.

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History

12 Jazz Hot Spots for Your Bucket List

April 2, 2019

Since 2001, April has been recognized as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). Certainly one of the best ways to learn about jazz and explore its history is to do it in person. Luckily, much of the past has been maintained and curated for the public at numerous museums, parks and homes. Here are 12 places where you can learn more about jazz greats from the past and present.

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Directors' Toolbox

Helping Students Select a Summer Music Program

March 28, 2019

It may not feel like it, but the academic year is coming to an end. When the doors to the school building close for the summer, instrument cases all too often close with them. Rather than let a year’s hard work be erased by three months without music, consider a summer music program to keep your students’ minds sharp. We spoke to Dr. Jenny Neff, Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of Summer Music Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia about finding the right program for young musicians and making sure they get the most out of it. She offers unique perspectives, having been a former camper, counselor, and director at the New England Music Camp.

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Music Advocacy

Inspiring Our Youth: Music Programs That Celebrate Diversity

March 21, 2019

Aaron Dworkin says he did not know about many black classical composers before he went to college. Long before he was named a MacArthur Fellow or became a University of Michigan dean, Dworkin lived in a small Pennsylvania town where he didn’t see other young men of color like him playing string instruments. The day Dworkin’s professor pulled works by William Grant Still off the shelf, a whole new world was opened up to him.

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Culture

The Women in the Brass Section: How They Found Success

March 13, 2019

Trombonist Amanda Stewart compares it to a slow-moving glacier – the gradual acceptance of talented women playing brass instruments in the United States’ most renowned orchestras. Stewart is the associate principal trombone for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and is among the 3% of trombone players in the nation’s top orchestras who are women. When she was younger, she did not realize women had a small presence in the brass sections of professional orchestras.

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History

Composer Rollo Dilworth: Remembering Moses Hogan

March 13, 2019

March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing the heart and soul of these historic songs to choirs across the nation. His work gave voice to the rich, deep history of the genre and brought it into the modern era.

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The Inside Voice

John Mackey’s Unusual Path to Composing Success

March 6, 2019

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, composer John Mackey grew up without formal music lessons. Though his mother played the flute and the family owned a piano, he never played either instrument – partly due to the experience of his older sister, Lisa. She hated the piano, and as Mackey relates, he did not care for it either.

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Music Advocacy

Ways to Celebrate Music in Our Schools

March 5, 2019

What started as a single day of music advocacy by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) back in March of 1973 has grown into a month of celebration and advocacy for music in our schools. The tireless efforts of NYSSMA, other state organizations, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to promote the importance of music education has been joined by the other arts, and March is now recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as “Arts in Our Schools Month.”

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Sacred

Recruiting Members for Your Church Choir

February 27, 2019

Most choir directors spend time thinking about how to keep their group vital and thriving. This usually involves the recruitment of new members from your congregation and community. Keeping things fresh and vibrant is a true challenge, and sometimes competing with the rest of the world to help grow your ministry can be tiresome. Here are some ideas about how you can invest in your ministry and grow in important ways.

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