Browsing Tag



Jazz with Pepper: The DIVA Jazz Orchestra

April 24, 2019

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.

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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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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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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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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

Avoiding a Sheet Music Emergency

January 22, 2019

To those of us in the sheet music biz, contest and festival season is also known as “score season.” Contests and festivals are great opportunities to showcase your performing groups outside of school and get feedback from judges. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong – you’ve selected your pieces and rehearsed your group, but did you remember to get your required scores for the judges? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before entering score season.

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Directors' Toolbox

How to Handle Easy Instrument Repairs

September 26, 2018

Now that the school year is well underway, instrument repairs are soon to be an unavoidable fact of life. The good news is many of the most common repairs can be done in the comfort of your own music room. To do so, however, you need the right tools. Here is a rundown of the most important tools you need for common musical repairs.

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Directors' Toolbox

How It Got Started: Essential Elements for Band

September 4, 2018

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.

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Directors' Toolbox

Practicing Sight Reading Year-Round with Your Band

June 12, 2018

Sight reading is a wonderful assessment of musical literacy, but it can take time for students to learn this skill. This is why I advocate for having an organized and methodical plan to give students sight reading opportunities throughout the year. Over the course of my 26 years of teaching music in Texas, I have found that focusing time on sight reading each week has really paid off. First, the amount of preparation time for our formal concert literature has been reduced. Secondly, our performance quality has improved, providing a much deeper musical experience for the audience.

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