NJSO and Hilary Hahn Perform for #OrchestraYou

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra teamed up on March 15 with the renowned violinist Hilary Hahn in honor of the state's music educators to perform along with the organization's first “pro-am” orchestra, dubbed “#OrchestraYou.” The new orchestra consisted of students, teachers, administrators, subscribers, music lovers, and NJSO musicians collaborating on a Jeff Grogan-led "Toreadors Song" from Bizet's “Carmen.”

Read more: NJSO's Music Education Night

National Conference Exceeds Expectations in Louisville

More than 2,000 string teachers, students, and performers attended the 2014 American String Teachers Association National Conference, which took place from March 5-8 in Louisville, Kentucky. The clinics, presentations, concerts and other activities were held in conjunction with ASTA’s National Orchestra Festival and the National High School Honors Orchestra.

Under the direction of Colin Catoe and Elyse Catoe, Atascocita High School Chamber Strings from Humble, Texas was named the winner of the high school division of the 2014 ASTA National Orchestra Festival. The winner of the String Youth Orchestra division was Stringendo’s Vivace, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and directed by Jonathan Handman.

Read more: ASTA 2014

The Lady in Number 6 named "Best Documentary Short"

The acclaimed documentary The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life, which outlines the incredible life of holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Somme, brought home the Oscar for “Best Documentary Short” at this year's Academy Awards. Somme, who was the world's oldest known holocaust survivor, died this year on February 23 in London.

Read more: Holocaust Piano Documentary Wins Oscar

Artists Oscar Palou and Alexander Müller-Rakow have introduced a clever new instrument called the Theometrica that adapts dozens of tiny acupuncture pins to create music.  The instrument is described as a "sound interface" that includes a spinning platter on which users stick pins, which in turn trigger samples when sensed by a motion sensor mounted on the side of the instrument. It's sort of a real-time, modern player piano.

Video below: 

How can conventional theory mesh with modern pop music styles like hip-hop?An unexpectedly forward-thinking answer recently appeared on the online forum Quora when posed with the simple question, "What are some new topics in the field of music theory?"  Ethan Hein, master's candidate in music technology at NYU, took time to eloquently explore a number of ways in which conventional means of teaching music has become irrelevant to modern day musicians. Excerpts follow:

"Rather than trying to identify a canonical body of works and a bounded set of rules defined by that canon, we should take an ethnomusicological approach," he writes. "We should be asking: What is it that musicians are doing that sounds good? What patterns can we detect in the broad mass of music being made and enjoyed out there in the world?

Read more: How to Mesh Traditional Music Theory with Modern Pop Music?

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra was recently awarded a $610,000 gift from a local family (Tom and Juilie Leever) and their organization, the Leever Foundation.  The gift was given for the purpose of developing a program called "MusicWorks!" at the city's Hall Fletcher Elementary, which will be designed as an after-school music-teaching program aimed at instilling life skills in students, similar to the famous "El Sistema" program in Venezuela. 

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that 50 kindergarten students will make up the program's initial participation, but that organizers plan to spread the program throughout the public school's education system, a system in which 79 percent of the students are reported to qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch.  

Read more: Asheville Symphony Given $610k for Music Ed Program

Jane ChuPresident Obama recently made official his nomination for chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a position that has been vacant since November 2012.

The White House nominates Dr. Jane Chu, Chief Executive Officer for the Kauffman Center of Kansas City, MO.  President Obama issued a statement on the nomination, saying, “Jane’s lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City. She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture. I’m proud to nominate her as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Read more: Obama Nominates Chair for National Endowment for the Arts

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the Society for Research in Music Education recently announced a request for proposals for a research project to investigate delivery mechanisms for in-service professional development for music educators. Results will be used to inform NAfME policy regarding provision of professional development activities for NAfME members. The grant will be up to $10,000 for a project to be completed between May 2014 and March 2016.

For those hoping to apply, NAfME asks that you send the proposal as an email attachment in doc, .docx or .pdf format to Janice Killian, Chair, Executive Committee of the Society for Research in Music Education (SRME), at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by March 1, 2014.Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please review the required proposal format.

Read more: Deadline Nears for 2014 NAfME-SRME Grant Proposals

March marks the return of Music In Our Schools Month, an annual period of advocacy for music education led by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) since 1973.  The month includes a nationwide contest ("The Concert for Music In Our Schools Month") that features school groups performing a set of repertoire (provided by publisher Hal Leonard) entered by video online.  The group that receives the most views by March 31 is awarded a prize determined by NAfME and a sponsor.  The 2014 repertoire for the concert includes , pieces like America, Of Thee I Sing, Explore, Dream, Discover, Shake Them ‘Simmons Down, and more.

The celebration continues to grow each year, reaching more and more students, teachers, musicians, and music supporters. Schools and communities throughout the country and overseas celebrate MIOSM with concerts and other activities based on the year’s theme. Classrooms, concert halls, civic buildings, clubs, parks, libraries, and shopping malls are just some of the arenas in which the public can observe the processes and results of music education.

 

Recently, the National Association for Musice Education (NAfME) joined 26 other organizations in supporting a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging an increase in funding for IDEA, with an eye toward fully funding IDEA within the next ten years.

As noted in a letter to U.S. House members,

“Currently, there are over 6.5 million children eligible for special education services under the disability categories of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The comprehensive assessment and support services authorized by IDEA help to close the academic achievement gap and ensure a meaningful education for every student. We owe it to all students to provide a quality education that will help them graduate and enter successful careers.

Read more: NAfME Joins in Open Letter to Congress in Support of Special Ed Students

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

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