THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

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Instrumental

The Results Are In… The Most Popular New Editors’ Choice Selections as Voted by Directors

For years music directors and performers have relied on Editors’ Choice – our list of the best-of-the-best new selections for the season – to...

New Sounds Podcast: Check Out New Music… from Your Couch

Welcome to our new podcast: New Sounds of J.W. Pepper! Each episode features a different publisher or composer who will introduce some of their...

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute: An Inside Look

The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute was founded in 1939 by a middle school music teacher and has grown to include six divisions: Philadelphia...

Top 5 Summer Music Conferences 2021 – Online or In Person

Summer is the perfect time to refresh and rejuvenate while you prepare for the fall. And what better way to do that than in...

Using Small Instruments, Body Percussion, and Other Resources to Teach Rhythm

Many music teachers are sharing plans to add more rhythm lessons to their curriculum this fall since these exercises can be conducted in all...

Staying Germ-Free: New Poster Shows How to Clean Your Instruments

Now is a good time to reinforce a healthy habit that students will need as long as they play an instrument. Regular cleaning of...

The Influence of Jazz: Resources for Your Students

Jazz Appreciation Month may not have gotten as much attention this April as in years past, but there are certainly no time constraints on...

Sight-Reading Exercises for At-Home Music Practice

Sight Reading Music Practice Now is the perfect time to work on sight-reading skills. Students can use their moments at home to strengthen their ability...

Connecting Technology and Music: The Virtual Orchestra Project

The executive director of the National String Project Consortium (NSPC) didn’t mince words when she described the effort involved in completing an extraordinary virtual...

How Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin Made It Big by Being Prepared

Internationally known for his saxophone playing and improvisational prowess, Jeff Coffin is also a composer, educator, and author. When not on stage with the...

5 Tips on Student Retention in Music Ensembles

Have you been in this situation before? It’s the start of the school year. You have returned from a summer of planning and preparation....

Adding Orff Instruments to the Music Classroom

For nearly a century, the Orff approach has been used to help children explore the world of music. This experience usually includes opportunities for...

Getting Published: A Composer Forum, Part III

One of the most exciting moments for a composer can be when they first receive word a piece they’ve written will be published. That...

Composing for the Student Ensemble: A Composer Forum, Part II

Composers have many considerations when creating pieces for student ensembles. Among other things, they have to ensure their works have the right balance of...

Writing Educational Music: A Composer Forum, Part I

Part I: A Composer’s Journey Behind every piece of music there is a story – an experience or creative idea so strong it had to...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Larry Clark

Larry Clark is an ASCAP award-winning composer with over 300 publications in print. For over 20 years, he has been a much sought-after composer,...

8 Tips for Teaching Orchestra for the Non-String Player

Perhaps you're a long-time band director asked to start a string program at your school. Or you're a first-year teacher looking at limited job...

Summer Resources for Young Pianists

Believe it or not, summer vacation is not far off. Students are undoubtedly excited about that, and for piano teachers and the parents of...

Jazz with Pepper: The DIVA Jazz Orchestra

Nearly three decades ago, a group was started with a simple mission – to play contemporary big band jazz, rooted in a traditional style....

How to Plan Visuals, Formations & Choreography for Your Marching Band

The pressure to create visually spectacular marching band shows can be high in the age of short attention spans, reality TV competition shows, and...

The Women in the Brass Section: How They Found Success

Trombonist Amanda Stewart compares it to a slow-moving glacier – the gradual acceptance of talented women playing brass instruments in the United States’ most...

John Mackey’s Unusual Path to Composing Success

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, composer John Mackey grew up without formal music lessons. Though his mother played the flute and the family owned a piano,...

Building Successful Band Programs in Smaller Schools

The student population at Louisburg High School where I’m in my 40th year of teaching is about 535 students. Yet we’re proud that more...

Roll Out the Accordion – Polka Music and Oktoberfest

Alex Meixner’s hands fly across his accordion when he plays crowd favorites at Oktoberfest celebrations across the country. The talented musician, who is known...

How to Handle Easy Instrument Repairs

As the school year progresses, instrument repairs seem to be an unavoidable fact of life. The good news is many of the most common...

How It Got Started: Essential Elements for Band

Think about the way we learn music – the methods and best practices used in the vast majority of music classrooms.  The teaching approaches...

Classical Crossover Band Inspires Students

Two worlds collided for cellist Nicole Myers as she traveled back to her Pennsylvania high school to give a performance as a professional musician....

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Concertmaster David Kim

David Kim paused after playing a few exquisite bars of music on his Italian violin. The concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra seemed concerned that...

Practicing Sight-Reading Year-Round with Your Band

Sight-reading is a wonderful assessment of musical literacy, but it can take time for students to learn this skill. This is why I advocate...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Tracy Harris

A musician cannot learn without a great teacher, but even the best teachers can't be experts on every instrument. It can be challenging for...

Stands Music of the NCAA Basketball Championships!

Exciting, fun, blown away – these are just some of the adjectives and phrases pep band directors have used to describe the experience of...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Colonel John R. Bourgeois

Nothing rouses the spirit like a march, and few bands can capture the patriotic fervor of an American march like the United States Marine...

Jazz Appreciation Month: A New Program for Students

As a jazz educator and president of the Jazz Education Network (JEN), I have seen literally thousands of lives impacted by studying improvisational music...

Managing Your Music Ensembles with Cut Time

There are many moving parts involved in managing music ensembles. Between keeping track of inventory, communicating with students and parents, coordinating volunteers, planning trips,...

Jazz 100: A Celebration of Recorded Jazz Music

“When I think about jazz music, I think about the millions of musicians who were involved in this before me, who were great musicians...

Louis Armstrong Continues to Shape Contemporary Music

Throughout the year, Pepper has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording by sharing interviews with modern jazz legends, descriptions of...

Something New and Exciting – Affordable Steel Drums for the Classroom!

One of the staples for any general music classroom, regardless of level, is instruments: barred instruments, recorders, rhythm instruments, percussion instruments, piano or electronic...

Jazz 100: Christian McBride and the Future of Jazz

In the orchestral world, the bass section is often underappreciated, being relegated to the back of the ensemble and assigned the vital yet rarely...

Orff Instruments: Classroom Essentials

Whether a music teacher uses the Orff approach or not, almost all have had some interaction with the wonderful instruments that are associated with...

Jazz 100: Jazz History Hot Spots for Your Bucket List

Throughout 2017, Pepper has joined the musical world in celebrating 100 years of recorded jazz. An integral part of our national history, jazz music...

Choosing the Right Strings, Rosin, and Mute for Your Instrument

Choosing the right accessories for your ensemble can be tricky, especially on a budget. Some accessories can greatly affect the overall sound and efficacy...

Jazz 100: Arturo Sandoval – Bringing Latin Jazz to the World

Ten-time Grammy winner Arturo Sandoval has seen his beloved Latin jazz rise from local tradition to worldwide sensation. Pepper was honored to speak with...

Favorite Basketball Pep Band Songs of the Final Four

For some, the end of the school year means it’s time to prepare for final exams and start planning summer vacations. But for high...

Jazz 100: Eddie Palmieri – Keeper of the Flame

Eddie Palmieri is a pioneer of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz music. One of the greats, alongside contemporaries Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval, Palmieri has...

Jazz 100: Advice from Legends

"God gave everybody a little bit of talent. What are you going to do with that little talent that God gave you?" - Arturo...

Choosing Orchestra Music – Playing to Your Strengths

Every spring, orchestra teachers anticipate getting next year’s rosters. They give a good indication of the instrumentation they'll be working with in the coming...

Jazz 100: Centennial Birthdays

The year 1917 was monumental in jazz history, but not just because it was the year of the first official jazz recording. Some of the...

Taking Your Marching Band to the Next Level

In all areas of the country, marching band is a vital part of the high school fall experience. While the type of band your...

Jazz 100: The Influence of Jazz

Stylistically and culturally, jazz music has had an enormous impact on American music, influencing many of the most beloved musical minds of our time....

Jazz 100: A Century of Recorded Jazz

Jazz is widely considered the first purely American musical art form, and with good reason. Nothing epitomizes the nature of our nation quite as...

Meeting the Minds Behind the Music

Listening to a master speak about their craft is one of the most enlightening experiences one can have. That was the thinking behind Pepper’s...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Brian Balmages

Composer Brian Balmages’ sheet music can be found in music rooms across the nation. He has written music for every skill level from very easy to advanced....

Bringing Jazz to the Next Generation

Jazz has long been known as the first all-American art form. It is, in many ways, both a metaphor for and an example of...

The Inside Voice: The U.S. Army Brass Quintet

With the nation’s birthday approaching, it is appropriate to celebrate the men and women of the United States military, without whom we would not...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Wynn-Anne Rossi

Wynn-Anne Rossi is known to the music world as a talented pianist, dynamic composer, and dedicated music educator. Throughout her life, she has combined...

Make Pepper Part of Your Summer with Pepper Live

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...

It’s Just… Music! An Interview with Paquito D’Rivera

Pepper had the privilege to speak with Latin jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera in conjunction with his latest honor. We were asked by the Jazz...

Jazz With Pepper Hosts David Liebman

On September 10, 2015, Pepper welcomed world-renowned saxophonist David Liebman, the latest music legend to take part in our Jazz with Pepper master class...

J.W. Pepper and the Birth of the Sousaphone

On the field, in the stands, or on the street, the Sousaphone is one of the most recognizable instruments in the world. Now a...

Music in the Air: Outdoor Classical Concerts

If there’s any time during the year that’s best for introducing classical music to the uninitiated listener, it’s summer. Thanks to seasonal changes in...

14,000 Pipes, 90 Years: A Tour of the Austin Organ

Pepper's own Rocco Richardson had a chance to speak to Scott Fredericks, minister of music at St. Matthew Lutheran about their famous Austin organ,...

Pat Martino: Here and Now

When hearing about the prospect of meeting and interviewing Pat Martino, all we could think about here at Pepper was how much we love...

Six Essential Videos for Roger Ingram Fans

Here we have a fantastic selection of videos from Pepper's interview with jazz trumpet legend Roger Ingram.  Listen to Ingram talk about his new...

Jazz With Pepper Hosts Pat Martino

On Wednesday, February 11th, the Jazz With Pepper series continued with a visit from guitar legend Pat Martino.  Eager musicians of all ages filled the...

Meet Debra Reilly: Grammy Music Educator Award Finalist

Recently, Pepper had the privilege to speak with Debra Reilly, a 2015 Grammy nominee for the Music Educator Award.  Ms. Reilly teaches and directs the string programs for Springhouse and Orefield...

5 Unexpected Items to Bring to Midwest

By now, you are definitely getting excited about the upcoming Midwest Clinic.  Sure, you have plenty to get ready for with winter concerts nearing,...

An Evening with Roger Ingram

They came to hear one of the masters.  High School musicians, old-school jazz players and everything in between from all over the Philadelphia area. ...

Three Marching Band Horror Stories

Trying to keep a rehearsal running smoothly with a collection of musicians is difficult enough as it is.  Add to that the unpredictable outdoors,...

Necessities for Marching Band Maintenance

With limited resources for many music programs these days, proper instrument upkeep has never been more important.  While you need to handle major repairs...

Qualities That Make a Great Student Leader in a Marching Ensemble – Part 3

Over the past few posts, we have been discussing the qualities that define an excellent student leader.  The first two traits this three-part series...

Qualities That Make a Great Student Leader in a Marching Ensemble – Part 2

In Part I, we explored the undeniable tie between a student leader’s attitude of service and the ensemble’s willingness to follow a leader who...

Qualities That Make a Great Student Leader in a Marching Ensemble – Part 1

With marching band season gearing up once again, directors find themselves looking to their flock of students in search of that indispensible percentage that...

Band Composer Series: Frank Ticheli

I recently had the honor of interviewing composer and teacher Frank Ticheli. In addition to composing, he joined the faculty of the University of...

Band Composer Series: Garwood Whaley

Looking back on my high school and college percussion studies, I recall working through many of Garwood Whaley’s books.  I particularly liked working with Recital...

In Memoriam: W. Francis McBeth

We were all deeply saddened to hear the news that Francis McBeth passed away Friday, January 6th.  Dr. McBeth was a very well respected...

Band Composer Series: Sean O’Loughlin

Sean O’Loughlin is a rising name in the music world.  His music is characterized by vibrant rhythms, passionate melodies, and colorful scoring. Commissions and conducting...

Band Composer Series: Larry Clark

Larry Clark's pieces have been performed internationally and appear on numerous contest/festival lists.  He  is an ASCAP award-winning composer with over 200 titles in...

Band Composer Series: Michael Sweeney

A graduate of Indiana University (Bloomington), and Director of Band Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Michael Sweeney has over 500 publications...

Band Composer Series: Brian Balmages

An active composer, conductor and performer, Brian Balmages' fresh style of composition has put him in high demand for his wind, brass and orchestral...

Band Composer Series: Robert Sheldon

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Robert Sheldon, Concert Band Editor for Alfred Music Publishing, and was able to gain some insight into the...

‘Tis A Gift

I recently enjoyed a Ballston Spa Community Band concert while attending the New York State School Music Conference in Albany, New York. Prior to...