It is rare that any music educator today does not run into the question of whether or not something they are doing violates copyright law.
One of the cool things about working in a music store is meeting the different musicians who visit. A music store is a hub, a melting pot resource for those carving out their niches within an industry that is constantly changing. This is especially true for college music students who embody the next generation of professional composers, teachers, and players.
Recently I met with one of my former professors, a terrific mentor and now colleague. Addressing him by his first name is a bit surreal after many years of sitting in his classroom. The purpose of the meeting began rather selfishly:
- We both enjoy a good cup of coffee.
- I needed to retrieve my graded final paper in hopes of using it as a writing sample should I ever need to submit one.
- I am one of those academic types that actually enjoys research and I wanted to bounce around a few ideas.
Conversation led from one thing to another, from suggestions for expansion of that final research topic from a different perspective, to my family, my work at J.W. Pepper and the proverbial “so, now what?”
Does that question ever go away? His answer of course was one that I and many of you already know — no, it does not. No matter what the circumstance, our role simply changes. After more than one cup of great coffee, I came away with lots of other suggestions and advice as well!
That is the beautiful and lasting thing about teachers that have touched our lives — we never stop wanting their advice. Perhaps we can all do more to take on the role of giving good counsel to others in the field of music. I will start here with sharing this interesting article from the New York Times about openings at the nation’s major orchestras:
It would be a better world with more places like this one. The Better World School of Music in Northern California is a well-respected music teaching studio that offers private lessons in voice and a vast array of instruments. I teach drum lessons there to a varying number of kids and adults every week. I’m also the studio’s own personal J.W. Pepper rep with rotating hours of service.
Private music teachers have always held a special place in music education along with their colleagues in public schools. Outside of school, young musicians from successful middle and high school programs are encouraged to find good private teachers to help develop their skills. Private lessons provide one-on-one attention that can eliminate early problems before they become bad habits. Savvy music directors know to compile information on local studios for interested band and orchestra parents.
There’s a synergy between these two kinds of music teachers. Here’s a fictional example of how music teachers from two different institutions build mutual support:
Mr. Murphy is a devoted high school band director who returns to band camp with a surprising infusion of inexperienced music students. Overjoyed about his growing program, he also ponders how to raise the standard of musicianship in what at first glance looks like a rebuilding year. With budget cuts, he doesn’t have access to a staff of specialists to coach woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
Mr. Murphy does his homework on local private music studios; at the same time he fields inquiries from private teachers in the area who are looking for referrals to grow their studios.
Mrs. Franklin is the director of one such studio– her phone is ringing nonstop with all the high school students coming for lessons! She realizes that she is now understaffed and will need some new teachers to share the workload in the studio. The end result is a win-win-win for everyone.
Mr. Murphy’s band goes on to have a very successful year with his bigger crop of music students, and private teachers have found new musical opportunities to meet the community’s need for instruction. And of course, the biggest winners are the students themselves, now enjoying music at a higher level.
I’d like to think that to ensure a vital music community, public and private teachers establish a rapport such as this. As unapologetically idealistic as this sounds, I think it’s at least worthy of further thought from both groups.
If you have a music studio success story that deserves mention, please feel free to contact me. As my guitarist would yell before our wedding gigs, “We take requests!”
Better World School of Music: www.bwschoolofmusic.com
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!