First new standards since 1994 define the future of music and arts education

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards has released the first new guidelines for arts education since 1994. With specific recommendations and guidelines for curricula across the spectrum of the arts, including New National Core Music Standards, the new standards can be found in a searchable format on the NCCAS website. The full PDF of the standards can be downloaded here.

The result of a two-year process involving music teachers, music administrators, and college researchers, as well as professional teaching artists, the standards have undergone three rounds of public review, with input from over 6,000 educators. 

Read more: NCCAS Releases New Standards

Rising summer sales of school band and orchestra instruments trumpet encouraging signs

A current bright spot in music instrument sales also reflects steady support for school music programs, reports NAMM, the National Association for Music Merchants. For the fifth consecutive year, summertime sales of school band and orchestra instruments are on the rise. The year-over-year increase indicates that, bedeviled as they may be by budgetary threats, school music programs are tenacious during challenging economic times.

Back-to-school season retail sales of traditional school band and orchestra instruments including brass, woodwind ,and strings have consistently risen over the last two decades, except for a hiccup at the recession’s peak in 2009. Sales during the July-September timeframe have more than doubled over the last 20 years, increasing another 6.2% in 2013.

Read more: Instrument Sales Up

Drummer, singer, and band leader Phil Collins recently came out of semi-retirement to play his first gig in over four years. It wasn't a Genesis reunion, though. Instead, Collins took the stage with a group of students from the Miami Country Day School, a middle school in North Miami attended by Collins' sons – one of whom is the young drummer who nails the iconic drum fill from "In the Air Tonight." 

See the video for yourself here:

222 educators selected from 208 cities and 41 states

A total of 222 music teachers from 208 cities across 41 states have been announced as quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. In total, more than 7,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K– 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: Quarterfinalists Announced for 2015 Music Ed Grammy Award

Coalition Descends on the Capitol to Lobby Congress About Making Music Education Available to All Children

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), music industry leaders, educators, and musicians preached to Congressional leaders about the importance of providing quality, comprehensive music education to all children during NAMM’s annual D.C. Fly-In, which began on May 21. The event allows the music industry to perpetuate the vision of a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught – and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right. This year’s Fly-In, the largest ever, included a day of service at Savoy Elementary, advocacy training at the Kennedy Center, a celebration of Turnaround Arts at the Library of Congress, and more than 100 meetings with Members of Congress.

Sixty-five NAMM members, STEAM Caucus co-chair Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, auditory learning expert Dr. Nina Kraus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith, former New York Yankee, Latin GRAMMY-nominated musician Bernie Williams, and actor Doc Shaw fortified the tenth annual event, which reinforces the importance of music education for all children.

Read more: NAMM's 2014 D.C. Fly-In

Arts-Intensive Curricula Designed to Help Improve Low-Performing Schools

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) announced the launch of a new arts education initiative to help turn around low-performing schools. Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Turnaround Arts initiative is a new public-private partnership designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. Working in some of the nation’s lowest-performing elementary and middle schools, this program will test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning and improves school culture in the context of overall school reform, announced the committee’s co-chairs, George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion.

Turnaround Arts will work in eight “turnaround schools” across the country – public schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that are receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Over the course of two years, Turnaround Arts will bring intensive arts education resources and expertise into these schools and support the school leadership in using the arts as a pillar of their reform strategy. An external evaluation of the program will measure the impact and effectiveness of this approach.

Read more: PCAH Launches 'Turnaround Arts' Initiative

Two new members have been elected to the Music for All Board of Directors: Richard Floyd of Austin, Texas and Randall J. Gonzalez of Boone, North Carolina.

Randy Gonzalez and Richard Floyd.Richard Floyd is presently in his 52nd year of active involvement as a conductor, music educator, and administrator. He has enjoyed a distinguished career at virtually every level of wind band performance, from beginning band programs through high school and university wind ensembles, as well as adult community bands.

Read more: Music for All adds two to Board of Directors

Student-Run Sax Choir Offers a Different Take on Chamber Music

The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. is home to the uniquely conductor-less Eastman Saxophone Project. In addition to being unconducted, the group also plays its music entirely from memory, for the purpose of "dramatically enhancing the level of interaction with its audiences."

All of this is to say that if you like saxophones and modern repertoire, you might want to check out this outstanding clip of the ESP performing John Mackey's "Asphalt Cocktail" at a spring concert on April 7, 2014.  

Read more: Eastman Sax Project

Space Agency's Arts Program Connects Elementary Music Students and Astronauts

Expedition 39 commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, currently aboard the International Space Station, made space-to-Earth musical connections with students in Texas this week to share and explore the relationship between the arts and space exploration.

Students from Pearl Hall Elementary in Pasadena, Texas, performed songs with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Houston Symphony violinist Sergei Galperin, and violinist Kenji Williams at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. From the space station, Wakata performed a piece of the ancient Gagaku music with a Japanese reed instrument called a sho.

Read more: NASA Broadcasts Live Musical Exploration

Hundreds of groups flocked to Dayton, Ohio for color guard and percussion competitions

After two weeks of intense competition featuring 325 color guards, 217 percussion ensembles, and 982 performances, the 2014 WGI World Championships wrapped up on Saturday, April 12. Fourteen groups have now solidified their names in WGI history as “Champion.” Congratulations to all participants!


Dartmouth (Mass.) High School came away with the highest score in the finals of the Scholastic percussion competition, edging out groups from Chino Hills High School and Ayala High School. See the Dartmouth drumline in action here:

Read more: 2014 WGI World Championships

Directors who make a Difference

For over 20 years, School Band & Orchestra Magazine has been honoring amazing music educators from all 50 states. That's more than 1000 educators recognized for their outstanding contributions to music education programs!

Do you know a fantastic K-12 instrumental music educator who is deserving of recognition in SBO? Tell us why he or she should be featured in SBO’s annual "Directors Who Make a Difference" report.

Click here to nominate a director 

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!

Click Here to Submit Your Story

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