• 2014 Grammy Signature Schools Announced

    Mike Lawson | March 18, 2014

    Grants awarded to 12 top U.S. public high schools for excellence in music education

    The Grammy Foundation® has announced that 12 schools nationwide have been selected as Grammy® Signature Schools for 2014 and have been awarded cash grants totaling $58,500. Created in 1998, the Grammy Signature Schools program recognizes the top U.S. public high schools that make an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year.

    Each of the 12 Grammy Signature Schools will receive a custom award and a monetary grant to benefit its music program. The top three schools are designated Gold recipients. The best of the Gold recipients is named the National Grammy Signature School and will receive $6,000. The two remaining Gold schools will each receive $5,000 and the two remaining Grammy Signature Schools recipients will each receive a grant of $2,000 to benefit their music programs. Seven schools will receive the Enterprise Award grant, which recognizes the efforts made by schools that are economically underserved. Each of the Enterprise Award schools will receive a grant in the amount of $5,500. The Grammy Signature Schools program is made possible in part through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

  • October 2010

    Mike Lawson | October 13, 2010

    Midwest Clinic to Recognize Stars of Music Education

    The Midwest Clinic: An International Band and Orchestra Conference congratulates the recipients of its 2010 awards: Jim Catalano (Music Industry Award), L. Dean Angeles (Medal of Honor), Frank B. Wickes (Medal of Honor), and Paula A. Crider (Medal of Honor). The awards will be presented during the 64th Annual Midwest Clinic (December 15-18, 2010, McCormick Place West, Chicago, Illinois).

    The Midwest Clinic Music Industry Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding support of music education through their work in the music industry. The Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor is given to conductors, composers, educators, and others whose unique service to music education and continuing influence on the development and improvement of bands and orchestras deserve special recognition.

  • How to Buy a Step-Up Trumpet

    Mike Lawson | August 5, 2009

    I started playing cornet in third grade and switched to a professional trumpet my second year not due to any great improvement on my part, but because my older brother who was going to high school switched from trumpet to French horn and I inherited his trumpet. I thought that I sounded a lot better on the trumpet, but at that time in my life I was also convinced that a new pair of sneakers would enable me to run faster and jump higher.

    Even though I switched to a professional trumpet at an early age, generally the ideal time to purchase a step-up instrument occurs at the transition from junior high/middle school to high school. I spoke with several successful junior high band directors about this and they all agreed on this timetable but also pointed out that exceptions can be made in the case of an advanced and noticeably dedicated student. Students entering high school are also often inspired by the level of "older" players around them as well as exposure to more challenging and sophisticated music.

    When buying a step-up instrument, parents must consider whether their child is mature enough to appreciate and care for the instrument. I remember teaching a seventh-grader several years ago with well-to-do parents. They wanted the best for their child so, against my advice, they purchased the most expensive trumpet on the market. Within months, this beautiful instrument looked like it had been through a war zone.

  • April, 2009

    Mike Lawson | March 27, 2009

    Findings of GAO Music and Arts Education Study
    Senators Chris Dodd (D- CT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study addressing access to music and arts education for public school students as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Dodd and Alexander called for the study in response to reports that the testing requirements of NCLB were forcing some schools, particularly those that serve low-income and minority students, to narrow their curriculum and restrict access to music and arts education.

    The study, entitled "Access to Arts Education," outlined the following conclusions: The study identified a decrease in instruction time for arts education with "statistically significant" differences across school characteristics (low-income, minority, urban/rural). Specifically, teachers at schools identified as needing improvement and those with higher percentages of minority students, were more likely to report a reduction in time spent on the arts.

    Teachers at elementary schools with high percentages of low-income or minority students reported larger arts instruction time reductions than teachers in schools with low percentages of low-income or minority students.

  • Five Minutes of Enrichment

    Mike Lawson | February 13, 2008

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if the students in our schools were exposed to five minutes of classical music every day? We've all seen the clinical studies touting the benefits of listening to and performing music, and now the New Bedford (Mass.) Symphony Orchestra has set up an interesting program called "Music in the Mornings," which provides "five minutes of famous compositions at the start of every academic day," according to a report on the Web site The intriguing aspect of this program is that the students in grades 2 through 6 hear the same five-minute music clip each day for five days, but the dialogue is changed daily to direct the listener's attention to different aspects of the repertoire. There are 36 different compositions introduced to the students throughout the school year, helping them gain exposure to a wide variety of music from different periods and composers, including Mozart, Bach, Stravinsky, and others. It's easy to imagine the kids picking their favorites, talking with other students about them, and perhaps even asking their parents to buy the pieces on iTunes.

    The benefits to this unique program are multifold, as it not only helps the children, but also aids the orchestra. Students have a brief respite from their normal day and their attention is redirected to the musical performance. It may calm them and help them focus on the music as well as the other tasks ahead for the day. Additionally, studies have shown that an education in music and exposure to classical music may help to foster better academic scores on a variety of standardized tests.

    For the orchestra there are increased revenue opportunities and visibility, as the ensemble is compensated $3,000 for each school that signs up for this five-year program. They currently have over 32 schools signed up for this program with the New Bedford orchestra, so the total revenue figure is currently $96,000. "Music in the Mornings" has been launched nationally with a variety of orchestras and currently has over 2,000 schools involved. This is certainly a very important stream of capital for orchestras, especially during these times of decreased ticket sales and reduced grants and subsidies from the business community. It is easy to see the benefits of selling this subscription to a wider audience by a variety of orchestras nationwide.

  • Show me the Money

    Mike Lawson | February 5, 2007

    While grant writing can be quite a challenge, the payoff can be monumental. Just ask our panelists. These music educators have seen their share of rejection in applying for grants, but they didn't let that stop them - and neither should you. SBO asked these seasoned veterans about the trials and tribulations they encountered on the path to securing music funding and the invaluable lessons they learned along the way.

    Meet the Grant Writers:

    Robert Klevan
    Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Education director
    Monterey, Calif.

  • Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Audience

    Mike Lawson | February 5, 2007

  • From the Trenches:

    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    by Bob Morrison

    Last month Sir Paul McCartney and Fidelity Investments announced a new partnership to support music education: Music Lives ( The initiative was launched at the same time Sir Paul was embarking upon a US concert tour underwritten by, you guessed it, Fidelity Investments.

    The press release stated: In a major initiative to combat this alarming trend, Fidelity Investments today joined music icon Paul McCartney to launch a new public charity - The MusicLives Foundation- aimed at raising awareness of and critical funding for music education programs in schools. "As a boy growing up in Liverpool, I was surrounded by music," said Paul McCartney.


    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    By Bob Morrison

    This January marks several important milestones for our nation in general and music education, in particular. On January 20th we will inaugurate the 43rd President of the United States to a second four-year term in office. One of President Bush's signature achievements (as described by the President's campaign) is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. NCLB also shares January as a milestone because it was in January of 2002 that President Bush signed this bill, creating one of the most sweeping education reform agendas ever.

    We are now three years into NCLB. You may love it, though I know a lot of people who do not. Some object to the law for good reason (more on this in a moment). At the very least, it has been a great topic for all of us to complain about and an unending source of parody: No Child Left in Band, No Subject Left Behind, No Child Left in Public School, No Child Left Untested… you get the drift.

  • Internet Licensing

    Mike Lawson | November 1, 2003

    Recent headlines have brought the use of music on the Internet to the forefront, particularly the 261 copyright infringement lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against some of the most active fans sharing songs on services like Kazaa. RIAA’s lawsuits are for downloading music illegally over the Internet. The rationale is “downloading songs is stealing money from the pockets of artists” because there are no royalties issued for the distribution of their recordings over the so-called peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

    In a related copyright issue, I have been promoting Web development for school music teachers since January, 2000, in this column. Among the things promoted are video and audio streaming so that teachers can share their music concerts with the parents and community that they serve. Audio streaming in particular is becoming very popular among music educators. But because of the legal issues of Internet licensing, it is important that this issue be explained in this installment so that licenses can be obtained from the appropriate parties when necessary. In preparation for this installment, I have been in correspondence with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, which are the main music performing rights licensing agencies for the United States.

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