Mary Lynn Lightfoot’s musical life started in the town of Canton, Missouri, where she began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As she grew up, she often played the piano for her church when the organist was away over the summer. Music helped to shape her life through high school, where she continued learning in both the band and choir. By the time she graduated, she had become so proficient that she received an instrumental scholarship to Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State) for French horn.
Concert season is right around the corner and, chances are, you have been preparing for it since your last concert ended. You spent the summer looking at repertoire and the fall teaching it to your students. Now, it is time to prepare for the big night. At Pepper, we pride ourselves on helping our customers in any way we can. With that in mind, we have compiled three blogs aimed at helping you with your final concert preparations.
Traveling with your school ensemble can be a wonderful experience for your students and your program. It can help deepen the social ties within your ensemble and it can help grow your program. It is also a marvelous and fun way for the director to receive some important musical feedback and observations from exceptional clinicians and adjudicators—something that is usually missing during classroom observations.
Education is the lifeblood of any successful society, preserving the best skills and techniques by passing them down to future generations. The music world has long benefited from passionate teachers who have imparted their knowledge to others.
If you have not yet had the pleasure to hear Julia Kamanda speak about classroom music, composition, and education, you are missing out on hearing one of the most genuinely passionate voices in the industry.
As graduation days approach, we know what’s really on everyone’s minds: summer vacation. And while days at the beach or camping in the woods might be the first thing you picture, Pepper® has a few other ideas you might want to consider. We host, sponsor, or coordinate hundreds of events across the country every year for musicians and music directors of any type of ensemble or style of music. Search our redesigned Events Page and you will almost definitely find an event for you.
Here’s a look at some of our most popular events coming up this summer:
If you are a vocal, classroom, or worship music director, chances are either you have been to a Joy of Singing/Joy of Worship workshop or you know someone who has. These workshops have been running for 30 years, and Pepper is happy to present them once again this July in three different locations. If you have yet to experience the Joy of Singing, you really should consider it! Attendees get first looks at new music from favorite composers in the choral, classroom, and worship music worlds from the composers themselves. Many sessions also include choreography workshops for musicals and more. Check the page for each session to see who is featured.
June 10th and 11th, Pepper is hosting a two-day celebration of music and worship. Created especially for church choir musicians, Voices in Praise is a time of fellowship featuring music resources, continuing education opportunities, and interaction with nationally known clinicians. The event will be conducted by three of the biggest names in worship music: Joseph Martin, Heather Sorenson, and Craig Courtney.
There are several of these events occurring across the country. New Sounds events can feature new music reading sessions for a variety of genres – school choral, elementary classroom music, often church choral, and sometimes concert band or jazz band. Sacred Sounds events are geared toward church music, primarily for choir and sometimes including organ, piano, and handbell music. Sessions are led by nationally recognized clinicians like Andy Beck, Greg Gilpin, Joseph Martin, Larry Shackley, and more. Check the Events Page to see who is featured in each session.
Of course, those are just a few of our most popular events. There are hundreds every year in locations across the country, so there’s something for everyone. Check out our Events Page to find the right event for you!
March is Music in Our Schools Month, and this year we are celebrating with quotes from some of our close friends in the world of conducting, composition, and music education. Over the years, we have talked to many distinguished musicians, and one of the unifying topics of discussion has been the importance of music education. Now, we would like to share with you their thoughts.
Debra Reilly, Grammy Music Educator Award nominee
“Music is the most important subject a school can offer. Music opens up creative minds. It allows children to be individuals. Everyone is progressing at their own rate.”
“My favorite part of teaching is standing up the night of a concert. If I could do a concert once a month I would do it. Just seeing the pleasure in the students’ faces; they beam with pride.”
Jennifer Schoener, band director and executive director, Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation
“I think it’s critical to anyone’s education… whether it’s through music or whether it’s through art, people need to have that outlet.”
Sharon Burch, educator and author
“A music teacher has an incredible impact. An elementary music teacher has more impact than any other music teacher in the system. When you think about it, if the school district still includes elementary music in their program, that one teacher has an impact on every student in that student body.”
“A thousand music teachers impact a million [kids]. So it can make a difference to our world.”
Dan Forrest, composer, educator and pianist
“There’s a sense of the whole being so much greater than the sum of the parts. There’s a little magic that happens there and once you sense that magic, you just can’t escape that.”
John Rutter, composer
“I think our politicians need to take note… my gosh do they ever! [laughs], and our educators, those who decide education budgets, church budgets, just need to remember it’s not a frill.
“You express when you sing, your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of those people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony, which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world, when so much of the world is at odds with itself. That just to express in symbolic terms what it’s like when human beings are in harmony. That’s a lesson for our times and for all time, I profoundly believe that. It’s like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us.”
Mayor Thomas Micozzie, Upper Darby Township
“It’s probably, unfortunately in some of those children’s lives, the only thing they’ve ever committed to and fulfilled, and are being recognized for.”
Paul Mealor, composer and conductor
“People have always had to deal with this issue. It’s always been a difficult thing. But when something is right, when something is the truth, when something is beautiful, it carries on because it has people to fight for it.”
“When we look at music in schools, we must not look at it as an optional extra. We must look at it as one of the most important things that there is.”
Mark Hayes, pianist, composer, conductor and arranger
“My first piano teacher taught me how to improvise. I only had her for a year and a half but she taught me to improvise. I know that was the foundation for my ability to create.”
The positive impact of music on young minds has been well documented, but sometimes it takes the poignant words of those who know best to truly communicate the importance of having music in our schools. We hope you have found these words both insightful and inspiring. Fostering young minds is a job we all share and one huge key to their success is keeping music in our schools.
In 2012 Pennsylvania piloted a new teacher evaluation program called the Teacher Effectiveness System. By 2014, every district in the Commonwealth was using this system to evaluate teachers.
It’s no secret that taking part in musical activities has a significant positive effect on young people’s academic achievement. There are countless news stories from reputable organizations that extol the virtues of music education, and it is easy to find discussions by experts in neuroscience about just how impactful music can be. There is ample proof that music aids intellectual development in a number of different subjects for students of all ages and has a lasting effect as they age.
Just listening to music is known to have positive effects on your mind and mood, as anyone who has ever relaxed to their favorite song can attest. But playing music does even more, helping young people deal with anxiety and with boundless other issues that can arise during development. And, in the long run, music makes you live longer, hear better, and think more clearly well into the late stages of life.
Yes, music is, without question, one of the best methods for creating intelligent, well-rounded students, and its benefits extend well beyond the school years. Of course, this is not news to us in the music world, but there are many places where music is being cut from school curricula. It is up to us to advocate for the importance of music education and share the wealth of evidence that it is key to the development of young minds.
Check out this sampling of articles on music and the brain:
- How band class alters the teenage brain
- Taking a music class in high school improves teen language skills
- How playing an instrument benefits your brain
- Playing an instrument helps children’s anxiety
- broaderminded.com, NAfME
- Musical training some offsets academic achievement gaps
- Science shows how pianists brains are actually different from everybody else’s
- How brains see music as language
- Why music makes our brain sing
- This is your brain on music, CNN
- The Beatles’ surprising contribution to brain science
- Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music
- Music before age 9 protects brain after 60
- Learning a musical instrument protects brain
- This is your brain. This is your brain on music, NPR
Have a favorite article on the relationship between music and development? Share it in the comments!
It is time again for arguably the biggest conference of the year for musicians and music directors, The Midwest Clinic. Every year, Pepper does its best to provide you with all the information available on what’s being played. We know you’re excited to see this year’s music and we’re excited to share it with you!
Get started by checking out our dedicated Midwest Clinic Online page. Here, you can listen to and peruse the scores, make notes, and bookmark the music featured this year. The page includes music for Concert Band, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Solo and Ensemble selections, sorted into convenient categories.
You will also find a link to our Midwest Clinic Pamphlet listing every piece of music featured at the clinic with links directly to our site to make finding each piece easy. A favorite of Midwest attendees for many years, this catalog includes the Pepper numbers for all the music at this year’s clinic. Be sure you pick up a hard copy of our pamphlet when you visit the Pepper booth.
We look forward to seeing you there!