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Features

  • Willie Wright

    Mike Lawson | July 10, 2012

    With the plethora of opportunities available to young people these days, kids often feel that they have to choose between music and sports. The common perception is that both activities are so demanding in terms of time and focus that they are somehow mutually exclusive: to participate in one means foregoing the other.

    However, that dilemma has never been a problem for Willie Wright, band director in Worland (Wyo.) Public Schools. When he was in high school, Wright excelled not only at the saxophone in jazz and marching bands, but also in sports, lettering in track and football. In fact, his athletic gifts took him all the way to the NFL, where Wright played for the Phoenix Cardinals, now called the Arizona Cardinals, and then to Europe, where he played football professionally for the league that preceded the current NFL Europe. Wright continued honing his musical talents all the while, bringing his horn with him everywhere he went, and soon after his athletic career came to an end, he began a new life as a music educator.

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  • 2012 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | April 23, 2012

    Congratulations to the 2013 SBO essay scholarship winning students and their school music programs!

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  • 2011 ’50 Directors Who Make a Difference’ Report

    Mike Lawson | December 12, 2011

    SBO's 14th annual "50 Director's Who Make a Difference" report features an array of outstanding educators whose incredible diversity in style, geography, and demographic setting mirrors the similarly wide range of thriving music programs throughout the country.  From the founders of focused elementary string programs like Elva Jean Bolin in Aurora, Colorado to the directors of large-scale, perennial champion marching bands such as Barry Trobaugh of Tennessee's Munford High School, this report aims to celebrate this diversity while also shedding light on some of the common values and philosophies held by a representative sampling of exceptional music educators.

    Responding to questions about teaching philosophy, making a difference in students' lives, and the most important lesson they've learned in their careers as educators, the directors, instructors, and teachers who make up the 2011 "50 Directors Who Make a Difference" present an uplifting mosaic of school music programs nationwide.

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  • Christine Porter

    Mike Lawson | October 11, 2011

    Creating a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of a Great Music Program.

    Recently, the Brooklyn Center School District became a full-service Community School. Brooklyn Center provides free or low cost health care, dental care, and mental health care for all children in our school, district, and community. Brooklyn Center High School received federal funding in the form of a grant to enhance existing programs, and provide academic rigor through a combination of curriculum focuses centered in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, and a multi-dimensional Arts Magnet Program.

    Brooklyn Center High School has received the Magnet School of Excellence Award for the past three years in a row, in part because of the exceptional musical opportunities it offers its students, as evidenced by the fact that 327 of the 738 students participate in the music program. This is a far cry from the 24 kids who were enrolled in band when Chris came on board a decade ago. The most recent affirmation of her efforts came in May of 2011, when Brooklyn Center HS was singled out by the NAMM Foundation as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” in America.

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  • David Willson

    Mike Lawson | August 2, 2011

    “I Won’t Give Up if You Don’t”

    Lessons on Conviction with Ole Miss’s David Willson

    Just about everyone involved in music can trace their career back to one decisive moment when something happened that made them realize that music would be a major part of their lives.  For educator, author and director of bands at the University of Mississippi, David Willson, that moment came as a high school band student, when he recognized the potential that music had to create a community where everyone could contribute and, what’s more, everyone’s contribution was necessary for the community.  He saw that, “Without the band, I wasn’t much on my own; and without me, the band wasn’t as strong.”

    For the past 36 years, professor Willson has been making music stronger throughout Mississippi and the Southeast United States, leaving an indelible mark first in the state’s public school systems, and then as the director of bands at his Alma Mater, Ole Miss. Willson estimates that he has over 120 former students of his teaching band in and around Mississippi. A colleague and recently appointed director of the Ole Miss marching band (and, of course, a former student of Willson’s) Dr. Bill DeJournett estimates that 85 to 90 percent of the band directors in Northern Mississippi have been directly influenced by Mr. Willson, either as his former students or through his mentorship.

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  • 2011 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | April 21, 2011

    Congratulations to the 2011 SBO Magazine Essay Contest winners!

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  • UpClose: Mike Back

    Mike Lawson | March 6, 2011

    Teaching Through Music

     

    Mike Back is the director of the band program at Walton High School, a charter school in Marietta, Georgia. The Walton bands have an impressive resume, boasting recent appearances at such notable events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Furthermore, the Walton music department is exceptionally well rounded, with high achieving marching, orchestral, and vocal ensembles. Through musical instruction, and perhaps bigger than the music itself, the Walton band program stresses “P.R.I.D.E.”: Proficiency, Reliability, Integrity, Discipline, and Excellence.

    SBO recently caught up with Mr. Back to gain some insight into the factors that allow for such success, as well as the teaching philosophy and approach behind the man running the show.

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  • 2001 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | February 9, 2011

    SUBJECT: WHY I PLAY MUSIC AND WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

    Amanda Coon First prize $2500 4th to 8th grade Band Director Jodi Tritle Eighth Grade, flute Spirit Lake Middle School, Spirit Lake, Iowa

    I play music because that's what I am. Music is my personality, my work, my education or in other words my life. Music lets me entertain myself and the world with my heart and soul. I play for myself and others so that maybe I can inspire someone else to do what I do. Express, inspire, play. That is what I do.

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  • 2002 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | February 9, 2011

    SUBJECT: HOW MUSIC HAS INFLUENCED MY LIFE

    Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to help further their music education. Winners' schools receive $1,000 worth of music products from the competition's co-sponsors - Yamaha Corporation of America, Avedis Zildjian Co., Alfred Publishing and United Musical Instruments.

     

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  • 2003 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | February 9, 2011

    SUBJECT: My Favorite Musical Instrument Is...

    Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to help further their music education. The winning students' schools will receive matching awards in the form of musical merchandise from Alfred Publishing Co., C.G. Conn, Yamaha Corporation of America and Avedis Zildjian Co.

    GRADES 4 - 8

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  • 2004 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | February 9, 2011

    SUBJECT: My Favorite Composer Is...

    Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to help further their music education. The winning students' schools will receive matching awards in the form of musical merchandise from Alfred Publishing Co., C.G. Conn, Yamaha Corporation of America and Avedis Zildjian Co.

    Kurt Rever Grade 12, Age 17 Pinkerton Academy Derry, N.H. Instrument: Percussion Director: Leighanne Cullen Favorite Composer: John Williams

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  • 2005 Essay Contest Winners

    Mike Lawson | February 9, 2011

    SUBJECT: What the National Anthem Means to Me...

    Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to help further their music education. The winning students' schools will receive matching awards in the form of musical merchandise from Alfred Publishing Co., C.G. Conn, Yamaha Corporation of America and Avedis Zildjian Co.

    Ryan Laschober Grade 12, Age 18 Blue Valley North High School Overland Park, Kan. Instrument: Tenor Saxophone Director: Dr. Marion Roberts My school band and I were fortunate enough to have been requested to play at the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion commemoration in France.

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