SBO Presents the 2017 Recipients of the Best Tools for Schools Award

Mike Lawson • Best Tools for SchoolsChoral • March 20, 2017

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The annual SBO Best Tools for Schools awards were presented at the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California on January 25.

The panel of expert music educator jurists who selected the companies and finalized their decision, during their spirited evaluation process, determined these fine products to be “best in show” for making your job teaching music easier, innovative and fun. This is not a nominated or popular vote designation, but a juried honor presented by experienced music educators. Our panel included:

• Dr. Karen Childress­Evans: retired Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Director for the San Diego Unified School District, VAPA consultant, artistic director for Grossmont High School, freelance professional musician, viola and vocals in Sentimental Journey and Enter the Blue Sky.

• Jim Evans: retired music teacher, professional musician, singer, and songwriter.

• Mark Nicholson: VAPA Music Coordinator for the San Diego Unified School District, professional musician (trumpet and vocals.)

• Mariana Astorga­Almanza: VAPA coordinator for the Lynwood Unified School District.

• Daniel Almanza: music program director at Don Bosco Tech High School in Rosemead, California. • Kirk Johnson: elementary instrumental music teacher, San Diego Unified School District. 


Honorable Mention for Pre­School Students

Haja, the Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly, by Julia Jordan Kamanda

West Africa’s vibrant colors and sounds come alive in this interactive musical storybook depicting the touching tale of a small bird who must face her biggest fear. Four to seven year olds will love adding the sounds of Haja’s heartbeat, wind and the rain on the mango leaves. The companion CD includes a djembe drum jam track, an audiobook of the story, and the instant classic song “Fly Haja Fly,” performed by author Julia Jordan Kamanda and students from J3Music Studios. A singer/songwriter, teaching artist, and “mom on a music mission,” Julia helps your students explore Haja’s world and learn more about the musical element of rhythm. Teacher edition and classroom kits also available separately.


Best Teaching Tool for Beginning Students

The WindStars Methodology by Nuvo

Nuvo WindStars is a new music program for elementary. The idea behind Nuvo WindStars is to bring real wind band performance opportunities to elementary schools with instruments that are more suitable for the kids as well as being inexpensive and easy to maintain. Nuvo WindStars is a simple, effective and affordable program that enables kids 4 to 10 years old to play real music to concert level and develop a life­long love of music. It introduces different genres with backing tracks for hip hop, rock, pop, jazz, traditional American and classical. Nuvo supplies sheet music, teaching aids, storage options and of course, the instruments in a program that cost under $1,000 to setup. 



Best Teaching Tool for Advanced Students

Audio Stretch from BandLab

Audio Stretch is a music transcription iOS app that allows users to change the speed of audio without changing the pitch. BandLab released a new version of the app that features an enhanced interface and new video stretch capabilities. Users can listen as they drag a waveform on screen, slow down music to as slow as zero speed, listen note by note to any song, transpose music and create loops. The features make AudioStretch perfect for music learners, experts looking to deep dive on a new track or passion project, or teachers wanting to embrace technology to help their students do close learning in class or at home.


Most Innovative Teaching Tool

Music Life Inventory System from Tempo Technologies

If you are charged with maintaining an inventory of instruments for your school band program, you need this new offering from Tempo Technologies. MusicLifeTM lets you create a complete digital profile for every instrument, case, piece of equipment and accessory in your care. Profiles can include serial numbers, detailed photos and descriptions, proof­of­ ownership documentation, insurance information and any other information you want to include. MusicLife works with its TrackTag technology. TrackTags are Tempo’s suite of high tech ID stickers and RFID locating beacons. TrackTags attach safely and securely to instruments, accessories and equipment to help you identify, locate and organize everything. You can add an unlimited number of TrackTags to any item. If your property is ever lost or stolen, use the FindMe System to help you recover it. Create digital inventory checklists to help you organize your instruments, equipment, accessories, sheet music and other property, and be sure that you never leave anything behind.


Best Teaching Tool for Classroom Technology

Motiv MV88 iOS Recording Device from Shure

The MV88 iOS stereo condenser microphone offers content creators unrivaled convenience and professional­ quality audio on the go. It’s the quick, easy way to create, capture, and share your way, anywhere. Excellent for recording music performances, rehearsals, or any other classroom audio recording needs. The Motiv MV88 is compatible with iOS devices with Lightning® connectors.


Best Teaching Tool for Elementary Students

Rhythm Clock from Rhythm Band

This cross­curricular/STEAM learning tool combines music with geometry to reach learners of all types. The base board depicts compass directions, clock face, and key on the back. The wooden, manipulative pieces are color­coded to the Note Knacks, and display note/ fraction/degrees on one side and the corresponding rest/percentage on the other side. Comes with a DVD of sample rhythms to get your students started on rhythmic compositions.




Best Teaching Tool for Band and/or Orchestra

The Pursuit of Excellence: A Band Director’s Guide to Success by Sally Wagner

Chock full of tips, suggestions and friendly advice from a highly successful band director, this book will inspire you to achieve your full potential and help to transform the everyday job of teaching into a series of rewarding and memorable moments. This book is a comprehensive manual to improve your band while developing yourself as an effective teacher and leader. The author shares hard­won lessons; highly creative solutions and moments of celebration during an illustrious 40­year career in which she was propelled to national prominence and received dozens of honors and awards.





Best Teaching Tool for Intermediate Students

Series – Sound Innovations for Concert Band: Ensemble Development for Advanced Concert Band and Warmup Exercises for Tone, Technique and Rhythm by Peter Boonshaft and Chris Bernotas

Sound Innovations: Ensemble Development for Advanced Concert Band builds upon the concepts in Ensemble Development for Intermediate Concert Band with 399 new exercises that are more technically and musically challenging, including over 70 chorales written by some of today’s most renowned composers for concert band, including: Roland Barrett, Chris Bernotas, Andrew Boysen, Ralph Ford, Rossano Galante, David Gillingham, Stephen Melillo, Robert Sheldon,Todd Stalter, Jack Stamp, Randall Standridge, and Michael Story. This book is a valuable resource in helping students grow in their understanding and abilities as ensemble musicians. Exercises are grouped by key and presented in a variety of intermediate to advanced difficulty levels. Where possible, several exercises in the same category are provided to allow variety while accomplishing the same goals. Its flexibility makes it perfect for large ensemble rehearsals, lessons, and studio use.

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