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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

Funds Will Provide Support for Archiving and Preservation Programs and Research Efforts

The Grammy Foundation Grant Program has announced that more than $200,000 in grants will be awarded to 15 recipients in the United States to help facilitate a range of research on a variety of subjects, as well as support a number of archiving and preservation programs. Research projects include a study on memory retention through music in patients with Alzheimer's disease; and the benefits of music training in strengthening the ear to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Preservation and archiving initiatives include a project to preserve more than 650 rare interviews with country music performers and professionals spanning 1959–2000; and the preservation of more than 250 original transcription disks of the historic radio series, "The Goldbergs." The deadline each year for submitting letters of inquiry is Oct. 1. Guidelines and the letter of inquiry form for the 2015 cycle will be available beginning May 1 at

Read more: Grammy Foundation Awards $200K for Music Research

EKU Marching Band to Employ Cutting Edge Technology

According to The Eastern Progress, the student-run newspaper at Eastern Kentucky University, the school’s marching band, The Marching Colonels, will soon be incorporating Google Glass into their rehearsals and field show. Google Glass are experimental glasses that have a built-in video camera and monitor:

Read more: Marching Colonels to Use Google Glass

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.

Read more: New SBO Feature: On the Road

NAfME’s ‘Broader Minded’ Advocacy Group Visits Capitol Hill Briefing

The music advocacy initiative Broader Minded™ from the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) was a featured part of a Congressional briefing on April 3, marking the first time NAfME has participated in such a hearing.

Read more: NAfME Visits Capitol Hill

Online music lesson provider ArtistWorks is sponsoring the 2014 ArtistWorks Classical Campus Video Exchange™ Scholarship Competition, with a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. Designed to help aspiring musicians further their education through a cash award and through use of the ArtistWorks Online Classical Campus schools in preparation for their competition submission, the event is open to trumpet, flute, clarinet, and violin players. There is a application fee of $60, and applications are due April 30th. Submissions are due by May 30th.

Read more: ArtistWorks Classical Campus Scholarship Competition

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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