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Jazz

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Enter Our Facebook Drawing!

October 15, 2010

 Psst… spread the word!   Enter your group for our Facebook sweepstakes called “Put Your Group on Canvas.”  A few J.W. Pepper employees put their creative resources together to offer you a chance to display your music ensemble’s photograph on a top-quality, large canvas!    The winning organization’s  photograph will be professionally printed on a 30″ x 40″ canvas, and mounted on a sturdy wood frame. 

If you’ve visited one of our stores, you’ve seen this type of canvas print decorating our walls.  Just imagine how excited your music students are going to be when they see an impressive portrait with their musical talents on display for all to enjoy.

Click here  to enter and to view contest details.  facebook.com/jwpepper 

Select the sweepstakes tab to enter the “Put Your Group on Canvas” drawing, which runs through  October 31, 2010.  Five winners will be randomly selected.    The prizes are valued at $100, and will be shipped free of charge to each of the five winners.

This is a golden opportunity to let your music ensemble’s talents shine!  Good luck!

The Pepper Difference

Are your ears ringing?

April 19, 2010
Choral Music Editor Steve Kupferschmidt

Choral Music Editor Steve Kupferschmid

Did you ever get the feeling someone is talking about you?  Well, this time of year you are being talked about plenty here at Pepper.  For a span of about three months, our music editors sequester themselves amidst stacks of scores and read through every note, hunting for high-quality music for your school, community and church music programs.  While music is published year ’round, the lion’s share of new music is composed by springtime so it can be in your hands in time for the fall season.

Here’s a glimpse into the life that is review season at Pepper:   First we bring together music editors from around the country, each with the background and skills to ascertain musical style, difficulty, and usefulness to the ensembles performing it.  Enter — you.   We think about you alot.  We examine closely how you responded to our picks from previous years, and we’re very careful to keep worthy pieces in the catalogs.  Can you imagine dropping Mozart’s Requiem or a Holst Suite from the catalog?   Neither can we.

So, at this point, now that we know what music has worked for many directors, we begin the process of combing through new scores to find music that also lives up to the standard you set.   You see, while we choose the music, it’s you that sets the standard.   Yes, we are musicians, but there is a fair amount of statistical information we examine to see important trends, performance patterns, and loyalty amongst performing groups.   We couldn’t possibly print a catalog that covers every piece every director out there loves, but we’re pretty good at creating catalogs with a wide variety of music appealing to many directors.

String Editor Tim McCarrick

String Editor Tim McCarrick

The review sessions last all day long, with song following song.  We talk amongst ourselves, write comments about the music, and discuss merits of the works with the publisher.   It’s the musical equivalent of taking the SATs.   We draw upon all our experience and knowledge and give our best answer.   We have one chance to get it right, and our business quite literally depends upon it.  There’s no time for “do-overs,” as we see on average 18,000 new publications a year.  In the end, we’ll end up featuring over 10,000 titles in our choral catalogs and 5,000 in our band and orchestra catalogs.  Phew!  None of this could happen without three things:  our unyielding passion for music, the professionalism of our review team, and caffeine.

So, back to you.  What mix of serious literature and pop tunes will you want this year?   Some directors view popular music with disdain, and for others it’s a vital part of their programming.  Have we provided enough variety in our suggestions to fill out your program?  Is there music to challenge your group?  Does the music put your performers in a good light?  Is the concept of the work clear — text, notes and all?   You are very demanding, as well you should be.  You are the one that stands at the podium.

Sacred Music Editor Amy McLoughlin

Sacred Music Editor Amy McLoughlin

There are as many opinions on musical quality as there are music directors, and we know that no one catalog can be everything to everybody.   If our catalogs save you time and serve as a great starting place for your musical exploration, then we have done our jobs well.  And don’t worry, if you love to explore beyond the catalogs, we welcome you to do so.  Our website has the largest collection of printed music in the world.  We’re happy to provide anything that works well for your group, even if it’s not in a catalog.

When our editors finish their annual quest for new music, they’ll find that it is summer (and likely wonder what happened to all the snow).  They will have created the finest print music catalogs in the world.  We trust their efforts support your work as a music director.

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The Little-Known Voice in Jazz

April 15, 2010
Jazz Resources

Jazz Resources

Are you looking for interesting ways to keep your students interested in practicing over the summer?  With the school year drawing to a close and the heat of summer already upon some of us, we’ve all noticed our students becoming a little restless.

I suspect that high school and college horn students frequently live a life of musical schizophrenia.  Religiously studying and performing classical orchestral literature — while listening to or wishing to play in a jazz ensemble.  When one pictures  jazz ensemble instrumentation, saxophones, trombones, drum set, trumpets, and double bass easily come to mind.  An instrument rarely included in this list is the horn — an unfortunate oversight.  Too often high school horn players are excluded from their jazz ensembles, or worse, persuaded to participate on trumpet!  Utilizing the horn in the jazz medium is rare but was practiced as early as the 1940s with the inclusion of  the instrument in scores for Claude Thornhill and later trumpeter Miles Davis.  Willie Ruff, Julius Watkins, John Graas, Tom Varner, Adam Unsworth are just a few on the growing list of noteworthy American horn players devoted to the genre.

Horn player, teacher and composer Lowell Shaw composed Fripperies (horn quartet) in order to teach his students at the University of Buffalo how to play in commercial styles including jazz, barbershop, and funk.  He has since increased the number of Fripperies to 40 and has also added Quipperies (horn quintet),  Tripperies (horn trio), and Just Desserts (solo horn with optional string bass).

For beginning players, the Essential Elements – Jazz series is a useful introduction to jazz notation.  In addition to horn, instrumentation also includes the less conventional  flute and tuba.  We’ll keep you posted as more jazz horn music becomes available in easy, intermediate, and advanced levels.  Maybe this is the summer your horn students spend some time playing jazz!

Archive

In their own words: Gordon Goodwin

March 5, 2010
Gordon Goodwin

Gordon Goodwin

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band is a dynamic force in the jazz idiom.  Here, courtesy of the ASCAP archives, you can hear the Grammy-winning artist himself, talking about the process of building a unique voice for the band that connects with today’s audiences.  Discover the influences and key collaborations that are part of the development of this energetic contemporary jazz voice. 

Listen to Gordon, in his own words:  Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Sheet music available:  http://tr.im/gordongoodwin