Believe it or not, summer vacation is not far off. Students are undoubtedly excited about that, and for piano teachers and the parents of young piano players, summer provides hidden opportunities for growth. Learning the piano is a fun experience for everyone involved, but it also takes a real commitment. For those unable to continue lessons during the summer, it can be a challenge to keep up.
Nearly three decades ago, a group was started with a simple mission – to play contemporary big band jazz, rooted in a traditional style. The brainchild of Stanley Kay, former manager of the Buddy Rich Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra started auditioning potential members in 1992 after Kay approached drummer and current DIVA Jazz Orchestra leader Sherrie Maricle about forming the group. Kay had heard Maricle play some years earlier and was so impressed with her talent that he approached her and asked if she knew any other women that played like her.
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.
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.
In February, we celebrate past presidents and their contributions to our national identity. The legacies of our past leaders are played out in history books and written into law, but who each individual was as a person can often be lost in their great deeds. Luckily, there are pieces of presidential personality still in our possession today that allow us to better understand who these men were, not only through what they did, but also through what they valued.
Music, for many, is about joy before anything else. Spend a few short minutes with conductor, composer, and choreographer John Jacobson, and it will quickly become evident that this is the case with him. His passion for music and education are written in his smile and the energy he exudes with each moment spent talking about it. That joy began at a young age.
Think about the way we learn music – the methods and best practices used in the vast majority of music classrooms. The teaching approaches are not all the same, but there are a lot more similarities than differences. Go back to the 1980s and earlier, though, and you will find systems that are far removed from what we have today. Changes happened over time in large thanks to the inception of the Essential Elements for Band method books.
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.
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.