50 Years of Wingert-Jones Music

Posted By on March 7, 2014

Wingert-Jones Commemorative EditionsIt was the Mid-West National Band Clinic, 1964. Merrill Jones sat alone at a table with his publishing company’s entire catalog — one piece by Claude T. Smith, a well-known band director in the area around Kansas City.  The piece was called Emperata Overture and its success laid the groundwork for the lasting relationship Wingert-Jones Publications was built upon.  The company we know today came out of those humble beginnings based on a love of grand overtures and the works of Claude Smith.

Before forming a publishing company, George Wingert and Merrill Jones both worked as instrument salesmen, traveling the Midwest to visit various schools and organizations.  Both had grown tired of the grueling life on the road and wanted to start a business in Kansas City where they both lived.  They did just that, starting out as a small-time operation with everything handled in house by just a few employees.

George Wingert passed away just a few years after the founding of Wingert-Jones.  Joyce Pinnell was hired to help run the store, and Frank Fendorf, a local band director, came in to help as well.  Through this time, Jones continued to publish and sell mainly the works of Claude T. Smith.  Smith focused almost entirely on high-end band arrangements for high schools and the military.  This was Jones’ preference, and Wingert-Jones remained a small-scale, highly specialized operation for many years.

In 1987, Claude T. Smith died of a heart attack.  By then, Frank Fendorf had taken over for Merrill Jones and the company was interested in expanding its market share.  Bob Foster, a music teacher at a local university, took over for Claude one day a week working on title selection, submissions, and handling correspondence, contracts, and rejection letters.  Bob continues to work for Wingert-Jones to this day and has had a significant impact on the development of the company into what it is today.

Though Merrill Jones preferred to stay away from more education-oriented pieces, in the ’90s the company decided to try its hand at what was and is the majority of the market.  They started the Achievement Series, working with composers such as David Holsinger and Nancy Seward to create educational pieces for mid-level musicians.  Producing ten pieces a year, the Achievement Series became a critical part of Wingert-Jones’ success in recent years.  Over time, they added an Early Achievement Series for elementary musicians and continue to produce both series to this day.
Wingert-Jones Commemorative Editions
Wingert-Jones was acquired by Malecki Music in the mid ’90s, which was in turn acquired by J.W. Pepper & Son in 2004.  In this same year that Wingert-Jones turns 50, we are also celebrating 10 years of collaboration between Wingert-Jones and J.W. Pepper.  In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Wingert-Jones, we are releasing Commemorative Editions of a number of classic pieces.  In order to bring these pieces to a new generation of musicians, Wingert-Jones is printing new editions with cleaner engravings and corrections of any mistakes.  This is a great opportunity to see what made Wingert-Jones the success it has been over the last five decades and enjoy some timeless music.

The 300th Birthday of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Posted By on February 26, 2014

C.P.E. BachThe year 2014 could prove to be significant for the legacy of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  The second surviving son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 8, 1714, and a flurry of events worldwide will commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth.  Six cities in Germany will hold celebrations this year, with the most extensive in Hamburg, where C.P.E. Bach spent the last twenty years of his life.

To appreciate the influence that C.P.E Bach had on his contemporaries and later composers, it is helpful to examine his life.  Emanuel Bach was trained thoroughly in music by his father, but both parent and son realized that a university education was necessary in order to obtain a high-ranking court position.  Once Emanuel had his law degree, he was free to pursue composition as part of his duties as court cembalist in the orchestra of Friedrich II (later Frederick the Great) in Berlin.  This position allowed him time to compose numerous works, many for the clavier (a predecessor of the piano).

One of C.P.E. Bach’s lasting gifts to the music world was his treatise on playing keyboard instruments.  It is difficult for us to imagine now, but at that time, the thumbs were not used in keyboard playing.  Emanuel encouraged use of the thumbs and argued for their necessity in order to create effortless technique.

In his mature years, Emanuel became more interested in writing choral music, most likely because he succeeded Georg Philipp Telemann (his godfather and partial namesake) as director of music in Hamburg in 1768.  The increased workload called for music to fill 200 concerts per year, so he created many new works and settings, most using existing materials.  Along with being a prolific composer, Emanuel was also a shrewd businessman and exerted careful control over the publishing of his keyboard and choral works.  He died in Hamburg in 1788 at the age of 74.

C.P.E. Bach, like his music, was full of complexity, passion, intellect, and subtle wit.  Many later composers, such as Beethoven, lauded his skills.  Is it possible that many concertgoers did not appreciate this special music that was ahead of its time?  If so, modern audiences will enjoy renewed opportunities this year to reflect on the impressive quality of C.P.E. Bach’s collective works.

Yes, he had an amazingly brilliant father, but Emanuel’s reputation still stands firmly on its own 300 years after his birth.

Take a look at a selection of C.P.E. Bach music.

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Conclusion

Posted By on February 24, 2014

Now that you have found some potential pieces and they fit the “who, what, when, where and why” of your practical considerations, what now?  Consider the following additional questions:

  1. Is the piece singable by your choir?  When I was hired to teach my first high school choir, I was on fire for music that I sang when I was in college.  I thought it was so great, I wanted my student choir to sing it as well.  But, I had not given any consideration to “who, what, when, where and why.”  Well, as you can imagine, much of the choir was frustrated with the level of difficulty of the piece and I ended up removing it from their folders.
  2. Looking at the text, what is the piece saying?  Is the text suitable for the age of your students?  Make sure that the text is age appropriate.  Some years ago, I took a poll in my classes about the importance students placed on words in the popular music they were listening to.  Overwhelmingly, the majority of my students said that the words are “extremely important” to any song.  So I began paying more attention to what the text was all about in the music I was choosing.  Oftentimes we would discuss the text of a piece as a class, and sometimes we would even write in journals.  I was amazed at the reflections my students offered to “read aloud” to the rest of the class, about what the text meant to them.  Through these reflections, the students were able to connect the text and music to their own lives, ultimately creating a real and honest performance.
  3. Is the piece range appropriate?  Does the range of the notes in the piece fall within the capabilities of the choir for which you are choosing it?  Check to make sure that there are not many notes that fall outside the tessitura of each section.
  4. Will the piece pass the five-year test?  Does the piece have staying power?  Will it still be something your choirs can sing in five years?  If not, can you justify making the purchase for the present?
  5. Does the piece contribute to the variety of music chosen?  It is always a good idea to sing a number of different styles and a variety of music on any one program.
  6. Will it contribute to building the vocal ensemble sound?  An important thing to consider.  Sure, sometimes you’ll want to sing something for the fun of it, but that should be the exception rather than the rule. What specific vocal techniques can this piece help you teach?  Legato, staccato, singing chromatics, crescendos, etc.  Plus, knowing this will help when you need to educate folks as to what educational reasoning you used to consider this particular piece.
  7. Are you excited about the music?  If you have high-quality choral music and you’re excited about it, chances are your students will be excited as well.  If you and the students are excited and perform it well, the audience will recognize this and enjoy it too.  Occasionally, you will have to “sell it” a little more if it is a challenging piece, but if it’s high-quality music, they will grow to really enjoy it and recognize its intrinsic value.

The repertoire we choose is an important tool that can have a very powerful and positive influence on our students.  It is essentially our “textbook” for the class, and can determine the success or failure of a program. Balance in choosing music is important. Sure, you should choose some quality arrangements of popular songs, but don’t forget the rich music of our cultural past.  I always loved the statement the character Glenn Holland made in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus: When speaking to the principal he states, “Mrs. Jacobs, you tell them that I am teaching music, and that I will use anything from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to rock and roll if I think it’ll help me teach a student to love music.”

In this results-oriented society, let’s not forget that the most important thing is not so much the concert, it’s what’s learned on the journey toward the performance.

The Star-Spangled Banner Turns 200

Posted By on February 20, 2014

The Star-Spangled BannerWe know the story of how The Star-Spangled Banner was written.  Francis Scott Key, lawyer and amateur poet, sat aboard a British warship in Baltimore Harbor watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry when the lyrics came to him.  He had gone to the ship to discuss a prisoner exchange, but was forced to stay when the battle commenced.  From his vantage on the ship, he watched the start of the bombardment, the “rockets’ red glare” illuminating the scene.  When dawn finally broke, the Stars and Stripes still flew over the fort, signaling that the Americans had held on.

The original poem was entitled The Defense of Fort McHenry, but Key gave it to a friend who set it to the tune of The Anacreontic Song, a popular piece at the time.  It would be another hundred years before The Star-Spangled Banner would become the national anthem, a decision finalized by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.  Before that, it was used in a number of military capacities and during events such as the World Series.

This year, we celebrate the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner and what it has meant for our nation since it was written.  Until 1931, the United States actually did not have a national anthem.  Several different songs were played and sung as patriotic pieces, but none were official anthems.

The song has been criticized in the past for glorifying conflict over the other great accomplishments this nation has achieved, but I would argue that those people miss the deeper nature our anthem has come to possess.  It is not just about the military struggle the song details, but also the countless other struggles our nation has endured.  Internal strife threatened to tear our nation in two, but we somehow mended the scars of war that separated us.  Racial segregation insulted the very idea of our freedom, but we are to this day working to right those wrongs, in spite of our differences.  The vast majority of us are the descendants of immigrants who braved famine, storm, and misery to embrace the promise that was and is America.

Those are the battles that the lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner have come to represent.  We are, all of us, a product of the struggle against tyranny that our anthem describes, be it the tyranny of imperialist power, the tyranny of ignorance, the tyranny of indifference, and so much more.  In the hearts of people around the nation and the world, there is the fear that the beauty that is freedom may not last the night;  but if we strive to be leaders in the fight for the rights of all mankind, we can make sure that by the dawn’s early light the spirit of liberty might continue to wave.

Of course, we here at Pepper have a number of beautiful arrangements of The Star-Spangled Banner.  Look through our collection and we’re sure you will find a version you like!

Shop for The Star-Spangled Banner

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 2

Posted By on February 12, 2014

In Part 1 we discussed practical considerations in choosing repertoire, such as the makeup of your performing group and the your intended audience.  Now we’ll look at how to find appropriate literature:

Where do you look?

  • Existing library of music where you teach  If the titles in your own library are not already listed on a spreadsheet, this would be a helpful project to complete. Enlist the help of student aides and perhaps some parent volunteers. Set up the fields you want, including title, composer/arranger, publisher, voicing, number of copies on hand, the date the piece was performed and even the style. This will make it easier to search for repertoire in the future.
  • Programs from previous concerts  This is especially helpful for teachers beginning a new job. Take a good look at what’s been done successfully in the past, particularly what was done four and five years before. It might give you a good idea of where to start.
  • Go online  jwpepper.com  has more resources and search capabilities than ever before. You can customize your search, hear quality recordings, see samples of the music, and search for Editors’ Choice, Pepper’s exclusive evaluation of the best new titles each year. Take a look at the Basic Library as well, where you’ll find a selection of chorals that have stood the test of time. Pepper also carries all state and festival lists.
  • More online resources  Other websites include:
  • Attend choral concerts  This is still a great way to find music. Go to as many as you can. Keep your program and make notes on it as to what songs are worth considering (or not!)
  • Conventions and conferences  Perhaps the most exciting, conventions and conferences can afford you the opportunity to hear many concerts, attend workshops, mingle and talk with colleagues, and even pick up free music packets.
  • Publications:  The Choral Journal, ACDA; Teaching Music, NAfME; Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, GIA Publications; Choral Repertoire, Oxford University Press; The School Choral Program, GIA Publications.
  • Build a library of recordings  Go to iTunes.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com to begin listening to and collecting recordings of professional choirs singing great music.
  • Build a repertoire file  When I began my career in education, I started a file labeled “ideas” into which I was constantly dropping notes during the school year. These were reminders to myself of things that I would change or implement for the following year. I quickly set up a file labeled “Repertoire Ideas,” to which I loaded pieces of music, programs, notes from students, and any and all ideas for music that I wanted to consider in the future.

Next post, the conclusion of Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music

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!