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The Sounds of Summer: Music at the Movies – Part II

July 5, 2012

A continuation of the discussion of the value of cinematic soundtracks to the world of both serious music and to music education…

Each year, as Hollywood offers the movie-going community an array of new film scores to appreciate, publishers of educational music wisely pursue the most iconic of these scores to arrange for young musicians. Artists like Ted Ricketts, Douglas Wagner, Jerry Brubaker, Mike Story, and Victor Lopez all understand the value of arranging movie soundtracks, “the new classical music,” for student ensembles. But why should a school instrumental director consider a film score arrangement as part of his or her concert or marching program?

Victor Lopez, who works as an arranger for Alfred Music Publishing, has this to say about the value of cinematic soundtracks to the educational market:

“Today, students have many opportunities to listen to all kinds of music via radio, television, YouTube, iTunes and other mediums.  However, not all of the music provided to the public is truly educational or quality literature.  On the other hand, most of the music in cinematic soundtracks seems to require a high level of creativity and sound musical knowledge.  Movie music is an art form that is created for a purpose… although putting together a collection of pop songs may constitute a cinematic soundtrack, in my opinion, that’s not really movie music.

“Most film music is an art, and because of its artistic value, the material is perfectly geared for music education programs and becomes extremely beneficial in music curricula.”

Arrangers from publishing companies across the educational spectrum universally point to John Williams as one of the most significant composers in film history, and agree his material provides excellent content for student musicians.  The melodic quality of Williams’ work is the “something” that sets his music apart, makes it so memorable, and takes it beyond incidental background material.  By providing band and orchestra arrangements of his scores (as well as the rousing themes of other composers in the genre), arrangers make this fun and relevant material available to student organizations.

An educator who chooses a well-arranged cinema theme for band or orchestra bridges the gap between this sense of relevance and content that will challenge them artistically, a bridge that exists nowhere else.  That pursuit of what instrumentalists find exciting now may not only be an invaluable investment in students’ education, but the future appreciation of serious music as well.

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