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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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...

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...

How to Add Social-Emotional Learning Lessons in Your Music Classroom

As we approach the coming school year, we can all agree we are still in unmapped territory. We may again have to take on...

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...

16 New & Powerful Choral Songs to Help Students During Hard Times

Choral Music has always had the ability to inspire and heal wounds, and now many songs are taking on a new meaning as teachers...

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...

How Are You? Silver Linings for Music Directors

Ian is one of my 13-year-old concert choir candidates. He and a group of nine other boys were promoted this semester to become full-fledged...

Helping Music Teachers and Students During Covid-19

J.W. Pepper & Son, Inc. Creates a New Tool to Overcome an Unexpected Barrier to Music Education Update: This service is now being extended. Teachers...

2021 Music Teacher Resource Guide

There are many great ideas floating around social media as everyone adjusts to virtual teaching and learning. We thought we’d highlight some of the...

Publisher Permissions and Distance Learning

*April 3 Update: Pepper has worked with music publishers to provide a way to share music you purchased with your ensemble members for...

Teaching Music Online: How to Engage Students Through Your Virtual Classroom

In this challenging time, the music education community has been doing what it does best: working together to keep students engaged in deeply meaningful...

The Year of Beethoven: How to Help Students Understand Musical Genius

There’s no shortage of ways to celebrate the upcoming 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday in December 2020. Numerous special events are planned around the...

Black History Music Lesson Plans: Ideas for Music Teachers

If you are looking for some fresh and interesting ways to explore the achievements of African Americans with your band, choir, or orchestra during...

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...

Overcoming Challenges as a New Music Teacher

The first year of teaching didn’t go entirely well for award-winning music educator Victor de los Santos. He was assistant band director at Santa...

Music Room Design: Setting Up and Decorating Your School Music Room

Music teacher David Fernandes says he faced unexpected challenges when he had to set up his music room during his first year of teaching....

Vocal Belting 101: How to Help Your Students Use Their Full Voice

When I was an undergrad, I was told that belting would ruin my voice. I shunned the music I loved and focused solely on...

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...

Black History Month Songs: Using Music to Teach About the Past

Updated January 2020 The idea for Black History Month was developed during a difficult time for African Americans in the United States. In 1926, segregation...

Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs & Learning Disabilities

Dr. Alice Hammel remembers when Vinnie started school. He had frequent outbursts and struggled throughout most of his elementary school years; eventually, he was...

Preparing Students for Auditions

It never failed. Late November into December, when my performing groups were approaching the final stages of concert preparation, one or more students would...

The Advantages of Using Handchimes in Music Class

You, like many music teachers, may have a set of handchimes in the instrument cabinet of your classroom that have been sitting for years. ...

How Music Education Benefits the Brain

Processing sound is one of the human brain’s most difficult jobs. The task involves multiple brain systems that need to be able to respond...

Vocal Health Tips: How Choral Directors Can Help Students

One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With...

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...

School Concert Planning Checklist

Trying to keep track of all of your classes and ensembles is hard enough. Then concert planning time comes, and there is a sea...

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...

Back to School: Tips from Teachers

J.W. Pepper talked to current and former teachers during one of our summer workshops to get some ideas for starting the school year right. Here...

Fun Piano Lesson Ideas for Summer

Summer can be a welcome break from the usual school-year routine and offers some unique opportunities for your private piano students. No school (or...

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...

Celebrating the Leonard Bernstein Centennial: Contributions to Education

Most people know Leonard Bernstein as a world-renowned composer and conductor whose contributions to music and culture can be heard in concert halls around...

Music In Our Schools Month: American Young Voices

Over a period of two years, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has strengthened its partnership with an exciting program that is building...

How to Practice Music Effectively

There’s an old joke that just about every musician has heard that starts, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The punch line, of...

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,...

Building an Advanced Music Lab in your Classroom, Part 3: Do It Yourself

A dedicated music tech lab is a terrific way to supplement and reinforce the learning that is happening in the classroom and through ensemble...

Building an Advanced Music Lab in Your Classroom, Part 2: MusicFirst

Like many other teachers, I have been exposed to learning management systems (LMSs) through professional development, online courses and even some face-to-face coursework. Early...

Building an Advanced Music Lab in Your Classroom, Part 1: Elementary

When I began teaching in 1982, everything from lesson planning to grading was done by hand with paper and pencil. I was part 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...

3 PA Systems That Music Teachers Love

Music classrooms are inherently noisy. First there is the ventilation system to compete with, which is especially difficult in the large spaces we typically...

Protecting Teacher and Student Health with Earplugs at Band Practice

When school is in session, as teachers we all know to stock up on hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and tissues, and schedule the annual...

A Band Director’s Guide to Teaching Chorus, Part 2

Are you a band director yet you find yourself teaching chorus? In Part 1: Preparing Your Singers I discussed setting up and managing the choral...

A Band Director’s Guide to Teaching Chorus, Part 1

Part 1: Preparing Your Singers During my teaching career, I noticed that there were many music teachers who would have liked to have known more...

Music Essentials Checklist

It's back-to-school time! Many of you are already back in the classroom while other teachers are gearing up for the first day. That means...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Greg Gilpin

Music education is a pivotal part of keeping our culture alive, and the teachers who carry out this mission need the support of other...

Reading Sessions: The Shortcut to Your Success

For the past few months, the Pepper editors have listened to mountains of music to find the best choices for our Pepper Live events,...

Music Advocacy Resources for Spring Concert Programs

In March, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and music associations across the nation celebrate Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM). It is...

It’s Time to Celebrate Music in Our Schools!

What started as a single day of music advocacy by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) back in March of 1973 has grown...

Planning the Perfect Concert Program

Your concert is coming up; you and your students have been working on the selected repertoire for a while now – things are coming...

Choosing Festival Repertoire

Last updated January 14, 2020 You have decided on the trip, made all the preparations, and your students and parent groups have been hard at...

Technology in Education Today

The influx of technology into our lives and into our classrooms has had a profound influence on the way many music educators approach the...

Pepper’s Top Tips for Concert Season

Concert season is right around the corner and, chances are, you have been preparing for it since your last concert ended. You spent the...

Music Room Furniture and Accessories: Everything You Need to Furnish Your Music Room

Look around your music room. Is anything missing? If your students are sitting cross-legged on the floor amidst piles of music, there might be some...

Traveling with Your Music Department

Traveling with your school ensemble can be a wonderful experience for your students and your program. It can help deepen the social ties within...

A History of Service: Bringing Musicians Together

The world has never been as connected as it is today. Technology has advanced such that we can communicate across the globe in a...

A History of Service: Music Education

Education is the lifeblood of any successful society, preserving the best skills and techniques by passing them down to future generations. The music world...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Julia Kamanda

If you have not yet had the pleasure to hear Julia Kamanda speak about classroom music, composition, and education, you are missing out on...

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...

Teacher Evaluation: Keep Calm and Improve Your Craft

  In 2012 Pennsylvania piloted a new teacher evaluation program called the Teacher Effectiveness System.  By 2014, every district in the Commonwealth was using this...

Music and the Brain

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...

Teaching Concert Etiquette

One of the most frustrating experiences a music teacher or director can have is a concert audience that is disrespectful.  Whether it is cell...

Capturing Your Concert: Simple Tips for Recording, Part 2

In this installment of Capturing Your Concert: Simple Tips for Recording, we are going take a look at handheld recorders which are designed specifically...

Capturing Your Concert: Simple Tips for Recording, Part 1

Have you ever found yourself at the end of a performance wishing you had made a recording of it?  Sometimes you hear the audio...

Granting Three Wishes – The Schoener MusicMan Camp

A love of making music is ingrained in the culture of not only our nation, but the entire world. The evidence of that can...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Sharon Burch

Sharon Burch has always been passionate about music education, especially for elementary-age students. From a young age, she loved music and wanted to bring...

Recruitment and Retention in the School Music Program

Much has been written about recruitment and retention for music programs.  With the uptick in access to social media, there are even more opportunities...

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...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Conclusion

Now that you have found some potential pieces and they fit the “who, what, when, where and why” of your practical considerations, what now? ...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 2

In Part 1 we discussed practical considerations in choosing repertoire, such as the makeup of your performing group and the expectations of your intended...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 1

Of the responsibilities that music teachers have, perhaps one of the most challenging is that of finding and choosing quality repertoire.  With the amount...

Support for First-Year Music Teachers

Ask any teacher about their first few years teaching and it’s likely their response will be equal parts nostalgia and relief that they are...

Pepper’s Basic Library: A Strong Musical Foundation

Despite the fiscal challenges classical music faces in today’s changing musical landscape, I’m very grateful for the few remaining radio stations dedicated to classical...

Teaching Music to Deaf Students

As a musician and a person who deals with both the music business and the deaf world, I assumed, as many people do, that...

World Teachers’ Day – October 5, 2012

Internationally recognized as World Teachers’ Day, October 5 is a special day to celebrate the essential role of teachers.  Established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational...

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...

Something New for K-8 Music Teachers!

Selecting appropriate materials for the classroom is one of many challenges elementary music teachers face.  Working with multiple grade and skill levels in itself...

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...

The Benefits of Attending a Live Reading Session

On July 23, 2012, J.W. Pepper hosted Summer Sing, a choral music reading session in the company’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania.  While reading sessions...

Key People: Interview with Wynn-Anne Rossi

Crystal Desch and I had the honor of interviewing Wynn-Anne Rossi, and we think you'll find her as we did, an inspirational composer, pianist and...

Key People: Robert Vandall, Part 1

Crystal Desch and I recently interviewed Robert D. Vandall by phone.  Robert Vandall is one of this country's most prolific and popular composers of educational...

Meet Julius Brown and the Extraordinaires

Music teacher Julius Brown is making a big difference at KIPP, otherwise known as the “Knowledge Is Power Program.”  There are approximately 99 KIPP...

Adrianna Svitak: Child Prodigy and Educator

Is it possible for music education to expand the minds and imagination, as well as inspire the creative energy of today’s youth? Let’s take a close look...

Mariachi Music in the Classroom

Mariachi music has emerged as the primary musical representation of nationalism in Mexico, and is growing increasingly popular in the southwestern and other areas throughout...

Efficiency Expert

I was pleasantly surprised to come across Carmine Caruso’s Musical Calisthenics for Brass in our online database.  I studied trombone with Carmine from 1968...

Here’s to You, Mr. Masterson

In an era where The Arts seem to play…ahem… “second fiddle” to other disciplines in our schools and communities, it's important we support educators by recognizing those...

Dr. Tim on concert etiquette

Concert etiquette is important as it shows respect for both performers and fellow audience members alike.   Musicians that pursue their craft in earnest grow to appreciate...