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History

Music Honoring Our Military on Memorial Day

May 21, 2019

The idea for Memorial Day stemmed from one of the most trying times in the history of the United States. During the Civil War so many lives were lost that the U.S. had to create the first national cemeteries. By the 1860s some towns and cities had established traditions of decorating graves in the springtime. The leader of a veterans’ organization, General John A. Logan, called for a national day of remembrance that he called Decoration Day.

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Sacred

Composer Patrick Hawes’ Spiritual Path

May 14, 2019

British composer Patrick Hawes gives an unusual answer when asked if there’s anything career-wise he wishes he could do better. His response: “Nothing.” The reason is based on Hawes’ Christian beliefs. He says he believes his ability to compose choral and symphonic music is a gift from God.

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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 of 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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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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Culture

Creating Virtual Choir 5 for “Deep Field”

February 19, 2019

Voices from 120 countries unite in one of the most powerful moments in composer Eric Whitacre’s film Deep Field. After the viewer travels through the cosmos via a stunning array of Hubble Space Telescope images, the time comes to return to Earth. At that moment, 8,000 voices ring out above Whitacre’s moving orchestra music. They represent the largest group to sing in one of Whitacre’s “virtual choirs,” and many participants said they were moved to tears when they saw how the final film represented humanity.

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History

Black History Month: Using Music to Teach About the Past

February 5, 2019

The idea for Black History Month was developed during a difficult time for African Americans in the United States. In 1926, segregation and racial violence against the black community was widespread. Amid this struggle, a man named Carter Woodson, now known as the Father of Black History, wanted to find a way to celebrate African American achievements.

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Directors' Toolbox

How to Help Students with Special Needs in Music Class

January 15, 2019

Dr. Alice Hammel remembers when Vinnie started school. He had frequent outbursts and struggled throughout most of his elementary school years; eventually, he was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Dr. Hammel, who is a nationally recognized expert on teaching music to children of all ages with special needs, said Vinnie was unusual in that he could not match pitch – at all.

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