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.
Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
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.
Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint at the challenges they have faced. Critics called composer Ethel Smyth a “little woman” with “utterly unfeminine” works, and Florence Price echoed the concerns of other minority women when she penned in a famous letter: “To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race.”
Clinician, conductor, and composer Michael John Trotta is one of the bright young minds of modern choral music. His work has been performed at Carnegie Hall and featured at several national conferences, with recordings of his compositions broadcast worldwide. Pepper had the opportunity to sit down with Trotta to discuss his background, inspiration, views on education, and some of his most successful works. Continue Reading…
This past summer, Pepper had the pleasure of hosting four of the nation’s top clinicians for a recent Joy of Singing workshop. While they were here, we brought them together to discuss their experiences with teaching, focusing especially on middle school. Before you watch the video, here’s some background on each clinician as well as a glimpse at their thoughts on working with middle school students:
Among the great 20th century composers, Leonard Bernstein stands out as having impacted perhaps the widest range of musical styles. His works can be heard in concert halls, musical theater venues, on the silver screen, and in places of worship.
Music education is a pivotal part of keeping our culture alive, and the teachers who carry out this mission need the support of other musicians to secure the future of music. In the world of choral and classroom music, Greg Gilpin has taken up that call. As Director of Educational Choral Publications for Shawnee Press, Gilpin spends his days helping teachers unlock the full potential of their young singers.
For composer Craig Courtney, music has been a lifelong pursuit. He began picking up melodies on the piano at the age of three, and in his teens he analyzed recordings of classical masterworks. This immersion into music helped to foster Courtney’s passion for excellence and influenced the art he would create throughout his life.
Rollo Dilworth is a master of the modern spiritual. Growing up in St. Louis and singing in both school and church choirs, Dilworth learned how to combine choral music with traditional spirituals. This combination became the basis of many of his most beloved works. Choral music is a natural way of bringing people together because, as Dilworth says, “every single culture across this globe sings.”