Introducing Tomplay: Interactive Sheet Music – Play Along With Recordings by Professional Musicians

Unleash your students’ musical potential with Tomplay’s latest version, bringing you unparalleled access to a vast library of instruments and ...
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Finding Success in Small Schools

I have a confession. When I graduated from college, I aspired to work my way up from a small school program ...
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Teaching Students with Differences and Disabilities in Music Classrooms and Ensembles

I am often asked to provide strategies for teaching students with differences and disabilities. To me, it is more important that ...
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Celebrate Music!

March is Music in Our Schools month (MIOSM)! This is the 39th anniversary of the national celebration promoting the transformative ...
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NAfME’s Transformation

Prior to 2018, the music education community often articulated the need for NAfME to address topics centering diversity, inclusion, access, ...
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The NAMM Foundation Launches Search for Next Executive Director

NAMM (The National Association of Music Merchants), the largest global not-for-profit music trade organization, has announced a search for its next NAMM ...
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Gillian Desmarais is TIME’s 2024 Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year

TI:ME is proud to announce that Gillian Desmarais has been selected as the 2024 Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year. ...
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Introducing A Dynamic and Inspiring Platform To Address Teacher Shortage in the U.S.

Today marks the launch of a groundbreaking online resource for music enthusiasts and educators: This innovative platform is poised ...
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Some Thoughts on Curriculum Planning for General Music

Time is a precious commodity. In my experience, time seems to weigh even more heavily on general music educators! We ...
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Patriotic Music Binds Us to the Idea of America

SBO+: Well-known author and frequent SBO+ contributor Harvey Rachlin provides this article on the important role music plays in developing and sustaining our national identity. In conversations with Harvey about this article, I suggested the traditional “American musical canon” needs to be expanded to include songs relevant to the diverse nation we have become, to […]
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Getting to the Point! Comparative Articulation for Woodwinds – Part 2

Before we delve into this in part 2 (see the February issue for part 1), a word of caution: All students are different. Every human being has a diverse morphology, and we all perceive instructions differently. While the below syllables tend to work well for most young musicians, be prepared to alter these instructions, depending […]
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Teachers Need Self-Care, Too: Customized Routines to Combat School Stress

Self-care is the most important guiding principle to have at the forefront of any music education position. Whether you are starting from scratch, rebuilding, or maintaining an already great music program, it is important to set boundaries for yourself, so the work doesn’t become overwhelming. There will always be documents to sign, names and faces […]
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Inspiring the Next Generation of Music Educators

It is no secret schools in the United States face the most significant educator workforce shortage in our Nation’s history. The combination of the extensive number of educators leaving the field as the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing encroachment of political issues into the schools, and a significant decrease in the number […]
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Strategies for Improving the Sound of Your Wind Section

Achieving a cohesive and balanced sound within the wind section of your orchestra or band can present many challenges. Here are a few strategies to maximize the beauty of sound in your ensemble.  Listening to develop a tonal concept Perhaps the most effective way for young musicians to begin developing their sound is to have […]
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Red-Headed Stepchild: Beyond the Beatings – Going Beyond the Classroom

As music educators, we know better than anyone that our professions do not start or end in the classroom. We are the people who actively search through every moment in our personal lives for examples, stories, and easier modalities to teach and explain random concepts to our students. We actively search for translatable inspiration throughout […]
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It Takes a Village: The Role of Community in a Music Program

As you begin establishing yourself in your new position, be sure community building is at the top of your list of priorities. A cohesive social fabric between the students in the program will create a deeper sense of investment and accountability toward each other. This will also help create a strong layer of trust in […]
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The Sin of Failure to Consider the Role of Proportion

The renowned author Ken Follet proclaimed, “Proportion is the heart of all beauty.”  If that assessment rings true there perhaps is no sin more daunting to address than the role of proportion in music making. The artistry of making music ultimately evolves into the creation of some kind of relationship intended to achieve both contrast […]
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Join the Team That is Your School: Be a Teacher-Leader

Imagine you have a loaf of bread. This loaf is finite, it has borders. There’s only so much bread. You can tear off a piece and use it. Sometimes you get something back for your bread, sometimes you waste it.   Now, shift this analogy to your political capital: in your school, in your district, […]
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On the Road Again: A Return to Travel

As the percentage of Americans who have received Covid-19 vaccines continues to climb, SBO reached out again to travel company Worldstrides to learn more about the current status of student travel.
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’But it’s a theme park…’ – Justifying a performance trip to the Walt Disney World Resort

It doesn’t look like much on paper, and if you have never been there with a student group, explaining that a trip to a theme park is educational can be quite a challenge. We know that the terms “fun” and “educational” are not mutually exclusive, but you may encounter an administrator, parent or school board member who sees your endeavor as a waste of resources. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if your plans are taking you to the Walt Disney World® Resort. Here’s what you should know to help you justify a performance trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth:

First, it’s important to remember that every performance trip has educational value. Whether you choose some of the world’s most beloved theme parks in Central Florida, a regional park closer to home, or a trip which doesn’t include theme parks at all, your students will come away with life experiences that can’t be delivered in the classroom. Performing in a new, unfamiliar venue shows your students how to adapt to changes and deliver results. The experience fosters a sense of teamwork and camaraderie within your members.

Taking your students “out of the bubble” of their day-to-day lives expands their horizons beyond what is familiar to them, encourages them to build stronger bonds with peers (and with you, their educator), and exposes them to a performance audience beyond the doting families to which they are accustomed. The responsibility of showing up on time, remembering black socks, and managing one’s own souvenir or meal money is a significant step toward the independence your students will need in their adult life.

While nearly every destination – across the country or around the world – provides these learning experiences, there are certainly destinations which deliver a top-quality educational travel experience consistently. Topping my list: the Walt Disney World® Resort.

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On the Road: Destination Cuba

In the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana, Cuba, student musicians perspired in the tropical humidity combined with the heat of performance. 120 members of the band, which consists of three concert bands and two jazz ensembles, along with twenty parents and teachers, departed for Havana via Miami on April 10th, 2014 and returned on April 16th. What we saw, heard, and learned on our trip gave us a remarkable perspective on a corner of the world that is controversially regarded by the international community.On our first full day in Havana, we visited an elementary/middle school designed for students who want to pursue music. Applicants to the school go through a rigorous musical aptitude audition process. The students take music classes for half the day and academic classes for half the day, heavily focusing on music beginning at a very young age.

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UpFront Q&A: Andrew Yaracs

A conversation with the author of Travel 101: A band director's guide for planning student travel

Andrew Yaracs recently retired after a 39-year career as a music educator, band director, percussion arranger, and music instructor. During a prolific 15-year stint running the Butler Senior High School Golden Tornado Marching Band in Butler, Pennsylvania between 1997 and 2012, Yaracs boosted the ensemble and program into the national spotlight, in large part due to his determination that he would take the entire 350-member band on a trip every year. Alternating between major excursions and more economical ones, the Golden Tornado Marching Band represented the town of Butler, the high school, and their community at such notable events as the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (in 2000 and 2007), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (in 1997 and 2002), and the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, Arizona (in 2004 and 2010), among others.

Yaracs cites the genesis of this ambitious travel schedule as his time performing with and then managing a drum corps. “That experience of getting out there, performing in different venues and meeting new people taught me a lot about life and growing up,” he says. “That was something that I always felt was a great incentive. I marched and graduated from the high school that I later taught at. When I was in the band in late ‘60s, we only had 90 members in the band and all we did was go to football games and one or two local parades. I had always hoped that someday I would become a band director and thought that if I did, I would do something for those kids.”

Drawing upon his vast and varied experiences on the road, Andrew Yaracs recently published Travel 101: A Band Director’s Guide for Planning Student Travel, a book chock full of anecdotes, sample forms and checklists, and advice and best practices. In this conversation with SBO, Yaracs speaks about his philosophy regarding band travel, fundraising, and some tips and tricks for having a successful and rewarding experience.

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Guest Editorial: Offbeat Travel Destinations

Maximizing the Educational Travel Experience for Your Performing Ensemble

Traveling abroad is a highly educational experience, especially when it comes to influencing young people. It is imperative for younger generations to explore the world and to learn about different cultures so that they may grow up showing compassion for others.

Many school music groups today are traveling to common destinations in Europe, such as London, Paris, and Vienna, which offer a long-standing musical heritage and can be very educational for students. However, there are many other destinations in South America, Africa, and Asia that are often overlooked, even though they can provide unique performance opportunities for the group, as well as a greater impact on the educational objectives for the tour. These locations offer unexpected surprises and can leave students with a new sense of cultural awareness and a truly unforgettable experience.

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New SBO Feature: On the Road

Travel experiences from school band and orchestra directors

Have you taken your school music groups on the road in the past year or two? How did it go? What did you and/or your students learn from the experience? What was the best part? The good, the bad, the funny, the life-affirming, and the death-defying, SBO wants to hear about it! Share your travel experience in 250 words or less for the chance to be included in an exciting new feature that will be debuting in an upcoming issue of SBO magazine.

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2011 Director’s Resource Guide

The 2011 CD Director’s Resource Guide provides instant access to the services and products choral directors need and use. The following organizations, companies, and institutions include award manufacturers, music camp organizations, music education software developers, tour and travel consultants, trade organizations, uniform designers and distributors, and much more. With listings conveniently arranged alphabetically by category, […]
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Tom’s Tips

SBO+: I get asked to present quite a few conducting workshops, especially for busy music educators who may not have the time or money to attend the many summer symposia that are out there. From time to time, I will share some of the things I often include in those workshops. Your Equipment The baton […]

Tom’s Tips

SBO+: I get asked to present quite a few conducting workshops, especially for busy music educators who may not have the time or money to attend the many summer symposia that are out there. From time to time, I will share some of the things I often include in those workshops. Your Body is Your […]

Dynamic Review

While helping new groups gain confidence and gel, take the opportunity to explore the world of dynamics and emotional expression through their music. An easy example is to play the “band anthem”… Hot Cross Buns. Once a good sound has been established, begin to explore dynamics and emotions by having the band play the song […]

The Secret is in the Tongue

For performers of voice or wind instruments, so much of good sound production relies on proper placement, shape, and use of the tongue. In this and the last few issues, we have featured articles about producing a great sound on various woodwind instruments and each of them described a very different technique for using the […]

Listen Up!

Listening and hearing are two different things. Hearing is involuntary and listening is voluntary. The student “hears” the birds, rain, teachers talking or the tone of their instrument.  However, they can choose to “listen” to those sounds through focused attention on the sonic details. Focused hearing is listening. Remind your students to not just hear, […]

Here’s One Time it’s OK for Your Jazz Band to be Square

When rehearsing your jazz ensemble, try setting them up in a box (square). This will allow them to hear each other better and be more aware of what the other sections are playing. Joseph Canzano Tampa, FL   SBO+ is proud to partner with legendary composer Robert W. Smith and his composers to bring you monthly […]
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