This installment of concert band repertoire reviews features music in a range of difficulty levels by James Curnow, Bob Margolis, Pierre La Plante, Jennifer Higdon, and Scott Lindroth. “Frank Ticheli’s List” is a compilation of core repertoire for concert band selected by composer Frank Ticheli of USC. These pieces have been reviewed by Gregory Rudgers, Lawrence Stoffel, and John Darling.

Read more: Essential Repertoire: Frank Ticheli’s List


​​ Did you know that there are over one million apps each on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play store? And it’s not just that there’s a boat-load of apps to chose from, it’s that there seems to always be something being released that does the “it” better (or differently) than the others. Take drumming, for example. There are many apps that you can use to learn how to play rudiments, drum set, world percussion, and even mallet keyboards. Their goals may be similar, but different app developers harness unique features of the device and provide creative interaction that can make it seem engaging and useful for specific needs and learning styles. This month we’ll look at some apps that are geared toward learning rudimental and drum set performance.

Read more: Technology: Percussion Practice Software


Considering the literal beating that drums and related equipment take on a regular basis, care and maintenance of snares and toms should be a regular part of the battery’s routine. Following is a list of tools and supplies, suggested maintenance activities, and some pointers that might be particularly handy for students and teachers who are not percussion specialists. This should provide all of the information needed to keep wood and metal drums in peak working condition.

Read more: Repair: Drum Maintenance


Building A Band Worth Being A Part Of 

Things are moving in the right direction for the Santa Teresa High School Band in San Jose, California. Under the guidance of director Julie Bounds, the opportunities for music students have expanded dramatically over the past decade, with the program doubling in membership and, in turn, new ensembles being formed to accommodate the influx of students. Santa Teresa’s current offerings include three concert bands, a competitive marching band, and three jazz bands, as well as percussion, guitar, ukulele, and other chamber-style groups. In addition, the band’s budget has gradually expanded from around $4,000 per year to over $100,000. Several years ago, Bounds started a blog titled “The Thrifty Band Director,” and she insists that the recent growth in capital hasn’t altered her fastidious efforts to maximize the return on every dollar spent, whether replacing instruments, purchasing new uniforms, or taking her band on the road. In this recent interview, Julie Bounds discusses the strategies she used to build a comprehensive program that her students feel is worth being a part of. 

Read more: UpClose: Julie Bounds


Break It Down: Learning it all at once is just too much for beginners - It’s the first day of handing out horns at school and the kids are off the wall with excitement about learning how to play music. Congratulations, you have created a new band member who can’t wait to get his or her hands on an instrument and start making music. Now what? If you’re a beginning teacher faced with large numbers of mixed instruments, this question can be paralyzing. When I was in my first few years of teaching, I realized that I was spending most of my time fixing mistakes. It wasn’t until I discovered how to “break it down” that my band program really took off. Breaking it down allows you to make kids comfortable, give them confidence, and, most importantly, not practice mistakes.

Read more: Performance: Working with Beginners


Skimming the Top: - How to Find the New Masterworks - It was the summer before my second year of teaching and I had been looking forward to this day for months. Eager to fill my students’ folders with new music in the fall, I had been saving all of the promotional recordings I had received from publishing companies and today was Listening Day Number 1. My enthusiasm didn’t last long, though, as after three hours, I had found only one piece that I thought was interesting and well written. “Hmm,” I thought, “I must have just accidently picked the wrong companies – tomorrow will be better.” 

Read more: Commentary: Selecting Repertoire


In my own experience initiating and executing an El Sistema program as an afterschool supplement to an already existing school-based music program, I noticed some of the same tensions between even the best of professionals. These sorts of tensions arise very naturally for us. As musicians, we spend hours refining nuances in practice rooms, and then perform for others, waiting for them to find the tiniest imperfection, point it out, and urge us to greater perfection. The university-level experience conditions us to be critical – of ourselves and others – and to pursue perfection.

Read more: Different Platforms, Common Goals


When it comes to the high school marching activity, most programs follow one of two very different approaches. Allowing marching band to be optional usually means that all students who want to participate can do so, but they aren’t obligated to take to the football field if they only want to pursue jazz, concert, wind bands, or other musical activities. While this approach makes sense for many programs – depending on school tradition, culture, size, and the interests of both the student body and director – there are some strong arguments to consider in favor of having the entire band department participate in the marching band, whether incoming students initially want to or not.

Read more: Perspectives - The Mandatory Marching Band

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Have you had professional musicians visit your band/orchestra room in the past year?

Yes - 59.1%
Not yet, but they'll be coming by soon - 3.2%
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