Pioneering music educator and author Bennett Reimer passed away on November 18 at the age of 81. Reimer's A Philosophy of Music Education was the first if its kind in the world-wide field of music education, often cited as one of the most influential books of its kind.

Reimer authored some two dozen other books and over 150 published articles and chapters. He was also a frequent guest lecturer, advisor, workshopper, and project director all over the United States and Canada, and in many countries around the globe. In 1985 he established the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience at Northwestern University, a weekly research forum for music education doctoral students and faculty, which continues to this day. 

Read more: Bennett Reimer, 1932-2013

A Polish concert pianist and instrument maker, Slawomir Zubrzycki, has constructed what may be the first known version of the viola organista, a hybrid instrument designed by the great Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci. Based on Da Vinci's original manuscript and sketches, Slawomir built the unique bowed keyboard instrument over three years, unveiling it for the first time on October 18, 2013. See the viola organista in action here:

Read more: Pianist Constructs Da Vinci's Viola Organista

U.S. High Schools in the Running for Grants for Music Excellence

The Grammy Foundation has announced that 123 schools nationwide have been selected as Grammy Signature Schools semifinalists for 2014. Created in 1998, the Grammy Signature Schools program recognizes top U.S. public high schools that are making an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year.

Each of the Signature Schools finalists will receive a custom award and a monetary grant to benefit its music program. The top programs are designated Gold recipients. The best of the Gold recipients is designated the National Grammy Signature School. The remaining schools are designated Grammy Signature Schools. For schools that are economically underserved, the Grammy Foundation established the Enterprise Award category to recognize the efforts in music education made by these schools. Grammy Signature Schools are made possible in part through the generous support of Converse, the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Hot Topic Foundation, and Journeys.

Read more: 2014 Grammy Signature School Semifinalists

Thousands of percussionists have converged in Indianapolis for the 2013 Percussive Arts Society's International Convention, which features a lively exhibition hall, as well as discussions, roundtables, clinics, performances, and competitions covering the full range of percussive activities – from marching and drumset to jazz, world music, and symphonic percussion.

Read more: PASIC 2013

Students of all ages are invited to compete for prizes by submitting original compositions using the cloud-based tools offered by MusicFirst.


MusicFirst™, the digital education division of Music Sales Group™, is excited to announce the ComposeFirst Music Competition. 

MusicFirst provides schools across the U.S. with easy-to-use and affordable cloud-based solutions that enable music learning, creation, sharing and exploration on any device at anytime, anywhere. Launching November 1st, 2013, the ComposeFirst competition encourages students to tap into their creativity while gaining insight into MusicFirst’s suite of groundbreaking software tools.

The competition is open to all music students in the U.S. from the elementary to high school level. Submitted compositions must be original works and be no longer than five minutes long. Entries may contain vocals and lyrics or other acoustic instruments as long as they are created using MusicFirst software tools Noteflight and Soundation. There is no purchase is necessary, as free trial versions of the software are available. 

Read more: MusicFirst Announces ComposeFirst Music Competition

Music for All’s Bands of America Grand National Championships, presented by Yamaha, is set to take place at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium. Thousands will converge on the stadium November 13-16 to witness some of the best high school marching bands in the country. Grand Nationals is an educational performance opportunity open to all high school bands, on a first-come, first-served basis. Grand Nationals is also billed as a “spectacular music and pageantry event,” for which marching fans from across the nation and around the world travel to for its performances.

Read more: Indianapolis to Host 2013 BOA Grand Nationals

During the halftime show of the OSU vs Iowa football game on October 19, OSU's TBDBITL (marching band) paid tribute to Michael Jackson with an incredible field show that, along with some of his classic tunes, also featured some of the King of Pop's most famous dance moves.

If you haven't already seen it, check it out below. While the whole show is fantastic, the dance moves really heat up shortly after the 4:00 mark.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if passersby on a busy New York City intersection were given the opportunity to conduct an orchestra? Improv Everywhere, a NYC-based collective, recently arranged just that, placing musicians from Carnegie Hall with their instruments out and ready to go in front of a sign on an empty podium that beckoned: "Conduct Us."

Video of the event here:

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times questions the impact of intensive musical training on a number of high achieving individuals in an array of industries.  Author Joanne Lipman writes:

Condoleezza Rice trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

Read more: NY Times asks: Is Music Key to Success?

A total of 25 music teachers from 24 cities across 15 states have been announced as semifinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. In total, more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The 10 finalists will be announced in December.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

Read more: Semifinalists Revealed For Inaugural GRAMMY Music Educator Award

On the Road

Do you have a story to tell about taking your school music groups on the road? SBO wants to hear about it!

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Directors who make a Difference

Do you know a fantastic K-12 instrumental music educator who is deserving of recognition in SBO?

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and tell us why he or she should be featured in SBO’s annual "Directors Who Make a Difference" report.

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