Current Issue

Mike Lawson (c) Sterling OrtizAs I was putting this annual issue together, historically called the “Band Director’s Survival Guide,” it was obvious that this wasn’t the month for me to write a feature piece profiling somebody notable or at least noteworthy, from the world we serve at SBO. Interestingly, in starting out this issue, it all began by assembling the ten winning, wonderful essays, from those submitted by the thousands, for our annual scholarship program, where SBO and its supporting sponsors award $1,000 to students who write an essay on a particular subject.

Read more: Perspective: Perpetuating the Species, Survival of the Fittest, or Self-Preservation...

Current Issue

Terry LoweThere are a lot of great things about running a magazine publishing company. For one thing, it gives you a medium to engage in discussions when you have an important topic on your mind that you feel is beneficial to share with others. Through the years, when I have penned a publisher’s note, it has always been about something in our industry. However, this time I am going off-script. I want to chat with you about an organization I have become aware of that is doing very good work for sick children around the country that you might want to know about.

Read more: Are You Looking For a Miracle In Your Life?


(c) ShutterstockCongratulations! You’ve been a hot shot your whole life. Going to music school wasn’t the question, which instrument you were going to major on was. A perfectionist, you chose a prestigious school and worked hard through many semesters of instrument method classes, performed with many ensembles and were placed with the most desirable cooperating teacher available. Life was good — until you dipped your toe into the real world, as an assistant band director in the middle of nowhere, a thousand miles from home, with children who acted nothing like you expected students to behave. 

Read more: Survival Tip One - Who Moved My Band Director? Suggestions for Accepting Change


(c) ShutterstockLet’s put ourselves in that moment where we get the emergency call. Our community is in danger from the rising waters and help is needed to fill the sandbags. I bet most of us would go with few questions asked. Ok, add another factor: Your home might be in danger if it gets bad enough. That is even more reason to help, correct? Now, let’s throw in the final carrot: Your school and your classroom are in the direct path of the destruction. I’m pretty sure that at that point, you are out the door and texting everyone you know and pleading for help.

Read more: Survival Tip Two - Setting Your Band’s Expectations Before the Levy Breaks…..


Claire Cao, 7th Grade Student at Tohickon Middle School, Doylestown, PA receives scholarship award from Jim Forester, Russo Music, Chalfont.Pa.  How Does Your Music Class Prepare You For Life” was the theme of SBO’s 15th annual scholarship essay contents. Several thousand entries were submitted as students competed for ten, $1,000 scholarships. The awards were given to five students in grades 4 to 8, five students grades 9 to 12, and their respective school music programs received a matching award of music products from co-sponsors NAMM, Alfred Music Publishing, Sabian Ltd., Woodwind & Brasswind, and Yamaha Corporation of America. 

Read more: 2015 SBO Scholarship Essay Contest Winners


The combined bands of the North Monterey County High School Symphonic Band and the People’s Liberation Army Band of China, playing our national march Stars and Stripes Forever, followed by the playing of the Chinese national march Motherland, at the China National Performing Arts Center in Shijiazhuang, China. The conductor is D.L. Johnson.

In America, Schools Are Not Equal: A View From Another Side

Over my 40 years in public education, I have seen education in America go up and down. From the “new math” of the ‘60s, “restructuring” in the ‘80s and ‘90s, “No Child Left Behind” in the ‘90s and ‘00s, to the present day “Common Core.” However, no matter what strategy is used in the academic classroom California education still remains unequal. As a high school band director all these years, I have the opportunity to see education from a totally different perspective.


Over the years, I have received several emails that are essentially asking for advice for the same problem: beginner percussionists often only want to drum and are uninterested in playing keyboard instruments.

Read more: Survival Tip Four - Working with Beginners in Percussion!


Figure 1: Sample Classroom Audio GearOur previous three-part recording series on recording band rehearsals provided a solid foundation for recording in class and in concert. As you become more familiar and comfortable with using digital audio workstation (DAW) software to record, there are many beneficial uses in daily rehearsal warm ups that help add fun to fundamentals. Numerous studies show that integrating technology increases student engagement, and the ability to prepare content in advance and recall previous lessons will save time in rehearsal. In this article we will explore five examples of using technology to help teach musical fundamentals. 

Read more: Survival Tip Five - Surviving The Warm Up: Technology to Enhance the Fun in Fundamentals! 

Best Tools for Schools

(c) Rob DavidsonAs a music education advocate and strategist, I find the spring school budget season my most worrisome time of the year, because this is when districts lay out budget proposals for the next school year (my next most worrisome season is late summer when districts that have discretion to adjust expenses sometimes reduce funding to music education programs). Since it is now officially summer, we are almost out of the woods in terms of the preparation, review, and voting that occurs on school budgets for the upcoming school year.

Read more: Springtime School Budget Season – The Most Complicated Time of the Year


Divertimento for BandThis installment of concert band repertoire reviews features music in a range of difficulty levels by Gustav Holst, Samuel Adler, William Himes, Percy Grainger, Donald Grantham, Warren Benson, and Stravinsky. “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 and Dr. Alan Lourens.

Read more: Frank Ticheli's List: July


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

Directors who make a Difference

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

Click here to nominate a director 

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

SBO Web Poll

How do you record your rehearsals?

Analog Tape Recorder - 2.8%
Computer with Microphones/Software - 11.1%
Handheld Recording Device - 50%
Smartphone App - 19.4%
I don't record rehearsals - 16.7%

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