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Where music teachers gather

April 5, 2010

Times of crisis have benefits that, although unnoticed at the time, show their value long after things return to “normal.”  As economic suppport of school music programs faces challenges, it is absolutely incredible how music teachers face the future boldy.  I recently attended the Idaho Music Educator Association Conference held in Nampa.  Despite budget problems, music teachers from all over Idaho came together for three days of clinics, sessions and concerts, and a chance to network with colleagues, thought leaders and supporters from the music industry such as Pepper.

For those of you who haven’t attended a music education conference in a while, allow me to share a snapshot of what happens there.   I’ll start with the floor of the convention hall.  While this might look like a self-serving storefront for most companies, it’s so much more than that.  The convention floor is where teachers and industry people connect directly, without barriers.  It’s where teachers have a direct voice in saying what kind of support they need in music publishing, manufacturing, fundraising and many types of music support industries.  In return, vendors have a chance to show what they’ve developed to meet educational needs.  Both parties listen and learn much at this gathering spot, and this interaction shapes future resources being developed to support music education.

We take great pride in the look and design of our convention booth.  It needs to be a conversation-starter, a portable piazza.  My Pepper booth was an indispensable way station where people would stop after attending clinics.  There were brightly colored Teaching Music through Performance books sharing table space with Peter Boonshaft’s famous tomes.  New concert band music occupied the corner and rounding out the display were fingering charts, how-to manuals, and various other books written for and by music teachers.  I particularly liked I Know Sousa, Not Sopranos, a Russell Robinson book that young band directors might need when looking for their first music teacher gig. 

The conference sessions were informative and highly entertaining, with band, choral, and orchestral topics as well as practical offerings for teachers of elementary through high school music.  Henry Leck from Butler University gave two dynamic sessions based on his book and his DVD, Creating Artistry Through Choral Excellence and Creating Artistry Through Movement, respectively.   I was happy to hear positive reviews of  An Orff Ensemble with Caribbean Steel Drums, hosted by Anita Edwards.  It wouldn’t be a music conference without a diverse range of musical flavors!  

The venerable Dr. Peter Boonshaft dropped by on Friday after a day of honor band rehearsals to say hello and sign a few of his books, namely, Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music With Promise.  Peter is a renaissance musical thinker to whom I’d rather just listen and not say a word in response.  He’s the conductor everybody wishes they had as a music major.  His abilities as a storyteller are astounding… it’s no wonder that he is so busy attending conferences around the country!

As the conference wrapped up on Saturday and I was anxious to head home, I couldn’t help but feel tremendous pride for being involved with this event.  Not only did I feel we brought value to the event, but I learned much from the teachers there, and was touched by those who expressed personally their thanks for our company’s support of them.  This IMEA Conference happens once every two years, and I am already looking forward to the next one!

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Music Education Success Story

April 1, 2010

In an environment where school district budgets are stretched thin, and and cuts to fine arts programs are on the table, it’s important that music education advocates know effective ways to maintain successful programs for children.   Communicating the value of music education, and rededicating ourselves to its continued funding, is taking place all over this great land of ours in just about every state.  It’s a crucial time to save music in our schools.

One such music program did just this.  Davis Senior High School in Davis, CA concentrated their efforts through major fundraising to save music education throughout their district, in particular their high school orchestra.  An article written by Dixie Reid in the Sacramento Bee portrays their journey, which is a story worth sharing.  We applaud the Davis school for their diligent work promoting music education in their school system.   Their long journey will yield tremendous benefits for their youth of today and for future generations as well.

http://bit.ly/aMJrTk

If you are looking for additional support for your music advocacy efforts, consider resources provided by these organizations already working hard to promote music in our schools.  Here are three organizations that work to peserve music education, keep music in our schools, and preserve the joy of music making for generations to come.

MENC,  The National Association for Music Education: http://www.menc.org/

Music For All:  http://musicforall.org/

Quadrant Arts Education Research:  http://artsedresearch.org/index.shtml

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On a tight budget?

March 26, 2010

We all know music budgets are stretched thin.  Did you know J.W.Pepper can help you?  Here’s an idea passed along to us from one of our customers.  On our website we have a section titled Music Lists  (http://www.jwpepper.com/musiclists).  With Pepper Music Lists you can create public or private lists for your students, colleagues, parents, congregations and supporters.  Sometimes you want to share a list for someone to buy the right music for themselves, but one of our creative customers found a way to use our music lists to boost their group’s music library.

Consider creating a list of music on your wish list for your organization.  What better place to start than with children’s groups and local community groups?  Once an item is purchased you can type in a thank you online next to the title they donated.  We also offer fundraising brochures and sample announcements online to urge your supporters to donate.  The customer who came up with this idea also printed a special thank you to individuals and families who made donations to their concert program.

Have a good idea to build your library?  Share it with us here.