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

The United States isn't the only nation in the midst of wide-ranging overhauls to education standards. According to the Music Education UK blog, the first batch of the the United Kingdom Department for Education's support materials for England's new National Curriculum for Music (which goes into effect this September) has been released. On behalf of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), Music Education Consultant and Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, Alison Daubney, has produced a number of documents to support teachers to develop their music curriculum in line with the requirements of the new National Curriculum.

Read more: New UK National Curriculum Materials Announced

The Ultimate Winter Orchestra

While much of the U.S. slogs through a cold, snowy winter, a group of artistic-minded people from an area where harsh winter weather is the norm have adapted some unique creative outlets. In what might be the most extreme ensemble of its kind, a Scandinavian group has created an entire orchestra out of ice. Ice Music, based in Swedish Lapland, some of the northernmost inhabited territory on the planet, is a performing group that plays in a giant igloo on instruments built out of blocks of ice.

Read more: Ice Music

Coalition for Music Education Advocacy Continues to Grow

Music for All is continuing its efforts to expand the role of music and the arts in education by joining the Music Education Policy Roundtable (MEPR). MEPR works to ensure the presence and perseverance of school music programs, by advocating for Music Education policy among political and governmental agencies.

“Encouraging strong policymaking and public commitment to music and arts education are fundamental strategies of Music for All,” said Eric L. Martin, President and CEO. “Joining and being active in the Music Education Policy Roundtable is a logical way for us to advance our vision to be a catalyst to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment.”

Read more: Music for All Joins The Music Education Policy Roundtable

SBO is proud to present the winners of the 2014 SBO Essay Scholarship Contest

Two students each from Illinois and Virginia were among the 10 scholarship winners of this year’s SBO essay contest, with the other six from Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Wisconsin. Five winners from grades 4 to 8 and five students from grades 9 to 12 each received music scholarships of $1,000, with their respective school music programs awarded a matching prize of musical products from cosponsors NAMM, Alfred Music Publishing, the Woodwind & Brasswind, and Yamaha Corporation of America.

Read more: The 2014 Essay Contest Winners

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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