Pepper is at the 2014 TMEA Convention

Posted By on February 4, 2014

TMEA 2014Come visit Pepper at the 2014 Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention and experience unparalleled professional growth, inspiration, and motivation.  With over 300 workshops for band, orchestra, vocal, elementary, and college educators, there is something for everyone.  Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy more than 60 concerts from the state’s finest musicians, including 13 TMEA All-State ensembles.

Pepper will be in booths 3406, 3408, 3410, and 3412.  Be sure you come by to see us and grab a Free Shipping coupon.  We are also sponsoring the Elementary Publishers’ Showcase for BriLee, Heritage, and Alfred, so don’t miss it!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 1

Posted By on January 31, 2014

Of the responsibilities that music teachers have, perhaps one of the most challenging is that of finding and choosing quality repertoire.  With the amount of literature available for all types of ensembles, the task of selecting the best music for student ensembles has become somewhat daunting.  Not only do we need to keep the capabilities and interests of our students in mind, but also our audiences;  both parents and administrators alike!

Finding excellent repertoire doesn’t just happen. It’s a career-long process. Much of what follows regarding this process is a combination of advice I have received from colleagues who have developed successful programs, books and magazines I have researched, and the results of trial and error.

Practical Considerations

Before choosing a particular piece of music there are some things to consider:

Who is singing?  Is it a mixed chorus, men’s or women’s chorus? Auditioned or non-auditioned group?  Is it large or small in number?  What is the balance between the sections?  Motivated singers or social singers?

What are their capabilities?  And what are the language and diction requirements?  Is it a group of beginners, intermediate or advanced singers?  In other words, what is the ratio of music readers to nonreaders?  This can be a challenging aspect, as you want to make sure that music chosen is not too difficult to frustrate singers, yet challenging enough to maintain interest.

When will it be performed?  How much time do you have to educate students and rehearse the piece so the performance reflects what the composer intended?

Where is the performance?  And for whom will it be performed?  Will it be in a school auditorium, local church, on a stage, in a hall or an outside venue?  Some of these aspects may affect your choices.

Why are you performing?  Is it for a winter, spring, or pops concert?  Will it be a themed or non-themed concert?  A  festival or competition?  Are there sacred or secular considerations?  Let’s face it — we’re all headed for a performance of some kind.  The skill is in making the journey toward the performance an exciting activity for the students.  Not only should they learn how to sing the piece well, but sing it with proficiency, artistry, and understanding of the music “behind the notes.”  Once these preliminary questions have been addressed, you can move forward.


In my next installment we’ll discuss where to look for quality repertoire.

The Midwest Clinic- the 67th Annual International Band and Orchestra Conference

Posted By on January 28, 2014

The Midwest ClinicFor the past 66 years, musicians and educators of all skill levels have gathered in Chicago during the month of December for the largest music conference in the world.  The Midwest Clinic – An International Band and Orchestra Conference offers guests an array of clinics, concerts and exhibits.  Focusing on industry trends and future topics in music education, this impressive event provides the opportunity to hear great music and meet iconic teachers and performers.

As an exhibitor at the 67th annual clinic, the J.W. Pepper staff had the opportunity to meet thousands of music educators, students, administrators, composers, professional musicians and industry representatives at their Midwest booth.  Attendees enjoyed browsing through some of the newest and most innovative new materials available.
Tuning for Wind Instruments—A Roadmap to Successful Intonation
One of the highlights this year was the appearance of Dr. Shelley Jagow, Professor of Music at Wright State University, at the J.W. Pepper booth. Shelley graciously met and greeted teachers after her standing-room-only session, Tuning Winds and Brass—A Roadmap to Successful Intonation.  You may want to consider taking a look at her book, Tuning for Wind Instruments—A Roadmap to Successful Intonation (#10346285, $24.99).

Here are a few pics from our booth with Shelley Jagow and Robert Franzblau at their book signings.

J.W. Pepper is proud to be part of such a memorable experience!  We look forward to seeing you at The Midwest Clinic in December 2014!

Music in Sports: The Sochi Olympics

Posted By on January 17, 2014

winter olympicsMusic goes hand in hand with any celebration and the Olympics, like nothing else, is a celebration of sports and athleticism.  Every two years we are treated to the best competition the world has to offer.  Along with the athletics, we are also treated to the best culture the host country has to offer.  This year we get a close look at the musical history and customs of Russia.

Visitors to the Olympics will get the chance to enjoy over 500 hours of performances from notable Russian music and dance groups.  Among the national musical art forms visitors can enjoy are Chukchi throat singing, Dagestan lezginka, Kuban Cossack tunes, and performances by maestro Yuri Bashmet.  Celebrating local culture has long been a popular component of the Olympic Games, and this year gives Russia its first post-Soviet-era opportunity to showcase their nation.

In addition to the vast array of local Russian cultural presentations, musical giants from around the world will be gathered.  Opera stars Barbar Frittoli and Erwin Schrott will perform, as well as pianist Denis Matsuev and renowned violinist Viktor Tretyakov.  Appearances by flutist Massimo Merchelli, cellist Enrico Dindo, and the Kuss Quartet from Germany round out the festivities.  These are just a few small pieces of the enormous influx of musical talent coming to Sochi for the lead-up to the Winter Olympics.

To supplement the already robust lineup of performers, the Sochi Organizing Committee ran a contest to perform in front of guests at the Olympic Games.  Over 1,000 applications from 53 regions of Russia and 20 countries outside Russia competed.  The winners were The Bis Band from Siberia, gymnast Valentia Apevalova from St. Petersburg, and the Harmonika Orchestra from Serbia.

The main music that accompanies the Olympic Games is as old as the modern Olympics themselves.  The first Olympic theme, called Olympic Hymn, was introduced at the 1896 Athens Olympics and has been used many times since.  Most years a new piece is composed in the host country and used throughout the Games.  The best-known piece, at least here in the United States, is likely the 1984 Olympic Fanfare and Theme, written by John Williams for the Los Angeles Olympics.  If you are thinking of an Olympic theme, you are probably thinking of that song.

Of course, there are many Olympic compositions to choose from, and with the winter games coming fast, you are sure to want to add an Olympic-themed piece to your next concert.  Take a look at these Olympic pieces and join in this year’s celebration:

Music for the Olympics

We’ve Moved!

Posted By on December 13, 2013

Pepper’s Northeastern Regional Store has Moved to Exton!

J.W. Pepper Corporate Headquarters and Northeastern Regional StoreAfter months of preparation, our employees, moving company, and construction workers have come together to pull off the ambitious undertaking of moving the entire corporate headquarters and northeastern regional store for the first time in 30 years!  The move occurred over a span of four days, from Friday, October 25 to Monday, October 28th.

Our new building is geared toward giving our customers the best experience possible.  The most exciting addition  is the customer lounge.  The lounge is ideal for hosting groups during in-service days or for taking a break after shopping for the right piece.  The lounge has its own kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, microwave, and oven, as well as plenty of counter space.  There is also a multimedia area for presentations and a piano.

The new retail space sports the same reference center features that our customers have become accustomed to as well as a similar shelving system to the old store.  Computers are available for further research, and our knowledgeable staff is always on hand to assist you with any questions you have.

The address of the new building is:

191 Sheree Boulevard
Exton, PA  19341

Phone and fax numbers will remain the same.  The new building is located a short drive down Route 100 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where Route 100 intersects with Route 113, giving greater access to a larger number of customers.  We are excited to be in our new space and we hope you’ll come visit soon!

A Classic Musical Returns Live!

Posted By on December 2, 2013

NBC Presents Carrie Underwood in a New Take on Songs from The Sound of Music

Carrie Underwood in The Sound of MusicOn December 5, NBC aired a live performance of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic. The Sound of Music cast may have changed, but the story is as lively and inspiring as ever. For those of you who might not be familiar with the full impact the show has had, here’s a little history:

The Sound of Music is based (loosely) on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, an Austrian family band that fled their home country during the Nazi Anschluss of 1938. The Anschluss, which means “Union” in German, was a long-debated concept between the nations of Austria and Germany that became Hitler’s pretense for annexing Austria. Though supported by many Austrians, the Anschluss was seen by many others to be a death sentence for Austrian independence. Once such objector was Georg von Trapp, an officer in the Austrian Navy.

Though the historical accuracies mostly stop there, the story presented in The Sound of Music is one of resistance against domination of the heart and soul of a nation. Originally adapted as a musical by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, the story found lasting fame in the form of a movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

It was timely. When it was released in 1965, the story could easily have been compared to the expanding influence of the Soviet Union. To truly understand the cultural impact of the musical, however, one must compare it to the music of the day. From June of 1965 to November of 1968, The Sound of Music soundtrack topped the UK charts on twelve different occasions for a total of seventy weeks as number one. During that run, the soundtrack replaced not one but four different Beatles albums from the top position on four different occasions (Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper). To look at it another way, the three-year-old soundtrack to a movie whose subject matter happened thirty years in the past pushed what many consider to be one of, perhaps even the best rock and roll album of all time off the top of the charts in the band’s home country. Wow.

Now we get the chance to see and hear the musical’s revival live for the start of the holiday season. This production stars country star Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer from True Blood as Captain von Trapp. It’s certain to be a treat and a great way to kick off the season. Of course, we here at Pepper love The Sound of Music as much as you do (also in the literal sense of the phrase), so we have a number of products from the show for your singing and playing pleasure. Why not grab an octavo and sing along?

Music from The Sound of Music

Vocal Selections from the Television Broadcast

It’s Time for Christmas Ukulele Songs at Pepper!

Posted By on November 12, 2013

Mele Kalikimaka, ladies and gentlemen!  It’s getting colder outside and that means it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.  A lot of things go along with Christmas:  lights, snow, trees, Jesus.  And now, Christmas means ukulele songs.  Of course, the ukulele has a place the whole year round, but the cheery little instrument just seems perfectly matched for the holidays.

Conditions might not be perfect for a hula skirt and the rest of the outfit, but don’t let that stop you.  Pepper has some excellent Christmas ukulele songs for you to consider as the season approaches.  You’ll have no trouble finding all the Christmas classics you love in these books, so you can sit by a crackling fire and enjoy some Christmas cheer with your family.  Or, if you are the caroling type, the ukulele is ideal to carry from house to house to accompany you as you spread the holiday spirit.

Truly, you can’t go wrong with a ukulele for the holidays!

Check out our selection of Christmas ukulele songs!

Announcing the Voices in Praise Music Conference

Posted By on November 4, 2013

Join us for a two-day celebration of music and worship!  The VIP session is a special blend of praise and worship music, new music reading, and musical fellowship for choir directors.  We blend music from multiple publishers into a veritable festival that will introduce you and your choir to the many different styles of worship music.

The event will be led by Joe Martin, bringing with him his exquisite musicianship and unmatched talent.  Joe will be joined by several nationally known clinicians such as Heather Sorenson, Mark Hayes, and Lloyd Larson.

You can involve your group in the Gathering of Song event on Friday evening.  This choir will rehearse and perform for the community the night prior to the reading session.

Here’s Joe talking about the event: 

The Voices in Praise  event is a great opportunity for directors in the area to join in fellowship and praise for the Lord while learning and enjoying new music.  Come and raise your voice to the Lord with us.  Together we can encourage unity through praise and help fill the hearts of our respective congregations with love.

Let the music begin!

Event Locations:

Santa Ana, California:

January 10 – 11, 2014

Calvary Church Santa Ana
1010 North Tustin Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Santa Ana Event Page

Arlington Heights, Illinois:

January 31 – February 1, 2014

First Presbyterian Church
320 North Dunton Ave.
Arlinigton Heights, IL 60004

Arlington Heights Event Page

Kalamazoo, Michigan:

May 2 – 3, 2014

Calvary Bible Church
855 South Drake Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Kalamazoo Event Page

Worship Planning for the New Liturgical Year

Posted By on October 30, 2013

The new liturgical year is fast approaching and church choirs across the nation are preparing for Advent and the Christmas season.  For choir directors, it is the most hectic time of the year and worship planning can be very difficult.  Finding the right music for your congregation can be difficult, but Pepper has the tools to help.

If you have not already taken a look at our Worship Planning tool, take the time to see how it can help you.  Choir directors can search our liturgical music calendar by month, year, and denomination.  The tool also lets you search based on passages of the Bible by book, chapter and verse, allowing choirs to plan their music around readings for each service.

Take a moment to try out the Worship Planning tool – we are certain you will find the right music for your next service.

Visit us at!

Pepper will be at the 2013 NAfME Conference in Nashville

Posted By on October 25, 2013

NAfME National ConferenceCome visit our booth at the NAfME National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee from October 27th to the 30th!  Pepper will be in booths 100 and 102 giving out Free Shipping coupons and free posters to decorate your classroom or office.  Shipping is free on any orders placed at the conference, so come choose from our extensive music catalog.  We’ll have the newest titles and plenty of old favorites as well.

This year, Pepper is providing the music for Patrick Freer’s What is “Quality” Repertoire for My Middle School Choir?  Learn more about Dr. Freer here.

Pepper has also provided the music for the All-National Honors Ensembles and free imprinted folders for the event.  You can find more information on the 2013 NAfME National Conference on their homepage.

We hope to see you there!