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music educators

  • Why Are You Still Here?

    Mike Lawson | February 16, 2011

    Can you believe that there are high school band directors who are still teaching band long after they have retired? In fact, most of those who continue on are still teaching the very school bands from which they retired. How and why would they do this? Classroom teachers might find this surprising, even unheard of, but for music educators, it so happens that this is a fairly regular occurrence. Could it really be possible that some educators love what they are doing?

    There is a phenomenon in public education that has been around a long time, but is now growing dramatically in many states: music educators, especially high school music teachers, are not fully retiring from the positions they have held for so many years. Instead, you might call it entering "semi-retirement." The idea is not new, but it is growing in popularity. In my state of California, there are many high school band directors all over the state who are continuing to teach band well beyond retirement. This may turn out to be the one of the few ways school districts feel they can hold on to their elective programs until the financial crises is over. Or it could be they really just don't want to let go of good teachers who are making a difference in the lives of kids.

    The process is quite simple. When a teacher reaches retirement age, he or she approaches the school district to see if retirement is a possibility. At the same time, that director requests to continue part-time and hold on to classes and/or programs he or she loves, still has a unique passion for, and has worked so hard to build over time. In most states, school districts can allow these teachers to work around 1/3 time and still make between $30,000 and $35,000 per year without penalty. This is not an automatic process, because the school district must first want these teachers back, but it does enable school districts to hold on to important educators and the programs they don't want to lose at a far lower cost.

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  • Why Are You Still Here?

    Mike Lawson | February 16, 2011

    Can you believe that there are high school band directors who are still teaching band long after they have retired? In fact, most of those who continue on are still teaching the very school bands from which they retired. How and why would they do this? Classroom teachers might find this surprising, even unheard of, but for music educators, it so happens that this is a fairly regular occurrence. Could it really be possible that some educators love what they are doing?

    There is a phenomenon in public education that has been around a long time, but is now growing dramatically in many states: music educators, especially high school music teachers, are not fully retiring from the positions they have held for so many years. Instead, you might call it entering "semi-retirement." The idea is not new, but it is growing in popularity. In my state of California, there are many high school band directors all over the state who are continuing to teach band well beyond retirement. This may turn out to be the one of the few ways school districts feel they can hold on to their elective programs until the financial crises is over. Or it could be they really just don't want to let go of good teachers who are making a difference in the lives of kids.

    The process is quite simple. When a teacher reaches retirement age, he or she approaches the school district to see if retirement is a possibility. At the same time, that director requests to continue part-time and hold on to classes and/or programs he or she loves, still has a unique passion for, and has worked so hard to build over time. In most states, school districts can allow these teachers to work around 1/3 time and still make between $30,000 and $35,000 per year without penalty. This is not an automatic process, because the school district must first want these teachers back, but it does enable school districts to hold on to important educators and the programs they don't want to lose at a far lower cost.

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  • New School Year’s Resolution

    Mike Lawson | September 10, 2009

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  • TI:ME Is On Your Side

    Mike Lawson | May 13, 2009

    Many educators are looking to expand their computer chops beyond the basics of word processing and e-mail so that they can integrate music technology instruction into their classes. One Columbus, Ohio music teacher found a great solution: "I was originally trying to integrate technology in my music classroom with little knowledge other than information I had researched. When I discovered TI:ME, I finally had access to resources that I could immediately use. I was able to network with other professionals and get advice. My TI:ME membership has enabled me to learn more and teach my students using music technology. If you haven't signed up for TI:ME it's about time!"

    TI:ME, the Technology Institute for Music Educators, is providing a pathway to computer literacy for hundreds of music teachers. Founded in 1995, TI:ME has set the standard for in-service training and has helped bring music educators up to the cutting edge of technological innovations. Besides its widely respected certification program, TI:ME also provides a forum for discussion, research, and development through its excellent Web site, www.ti-me.org. The TI:MES newsletter and regional and national conventions bring educators together with manufacturers, publishers, and software/hardware developers.

    A TI:ME member from Philadelphia recalls, "I joined TI:ME back in 1997 when it became clear that music education technology presented unique challenges and opportunities to benefit music teaching. I remain a member today because it keeps me in touch with teachers all over the world who share my interests. I learn a great deal from the conferences, message board discussions, e-mail exchanges, and members-only content at TI:ME. This past week alone, I gained great insight into how other teachers use keyboards in their teaching and how effective distance learning can be. I learned this all from TI:ME's online discussion group. I am happy to be a continuing member of TI:ME."

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  • March, 2009

    Mike Lawson | March 12, 2009

    The NAMM Foundation Encourages Support of Music Education
    The NAMM Foundation hosted multiple events at the 2009 Winter NAMM Show that were focused on keeping music education strong in schools. The Foundation hopes to raise awareness within the music products industry about the critical importance of being active in their communities in order to maintain support for music education programs in today's economic environment. On the opening day of the show, NAMM presented its prestigious Grand Marshal Award to three important influencers in honor of their contributions to school music education.

    The honorees were: Anne L. Bryant, Ed.D, executive director of the National School Boards Association, who heads a federation of state and territorial organization dedicated to advancing education through citizen governance of public schools; Tim Lautzenheiser, executive director of education for Conn-Selmer, Inc., who is a well-known name in the music education world as a teacher, clinician, author, composer, conductor, consultant and mentor to young people; and Inez Hussey, co-director of King George VI Centre, an organization focused on providing rehabilitation and boarding facilities to children growing up with physical disabilities in Zimbabwe.

    The NAMM Foundation celebrated 15 years of commitment from the music products industry to promote quality guitar instruction in schools. Since 1994, NAMM has supported Teaching Guitar Workshops, a program developed with MENC (the National Association for Music Education) to train music educators to use a fundamental approach toward teaching guitar. Officers of NAMM presented the Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) with a celebratory check for $774,200 representing NAMM's contribution to GAMA's efforts to maintain and grow this significant program over the years.

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  • March, 2008

    Mike Lawson | March 13, 2008

    Alfred Honors Mark Williams, Sponsors Piano Celebration
    Alfred Publishing joins the music community in celebrating the life and works of Mark Williams. Mark was a talented musician and one of our most prolific composers of school band and orchestra music, with his works and method books used worldwide. His undeniable talent and infectious love of music have made a lasting impact on the music education world.

    In honor of Mark's lasting contributions to music education, Alfred has set up the Mark Williams Memorial Fund for Educators, which will award scholarships to music educators to attend the annual Music for All Summer Symposium for professional development held at the Illinois State University.

    Mark was one of the premier composers for school bands and orchestras. Co-author of the Accent on Achievement Band Method, he had more than 200 published works to his credit and traveled worldwide as a clinician and conductor.

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  • MAC to the Rescue

    Mike Lawson | January 21, 2008

    Of the many organizations created to aid music educators, few offer such direct assistance as the Music Achievement Council. With the singular goal of promoting school band and orchestra participation, MAC has updated and re-released their non-commercial Practical Guide for Recruitment and Retention.

    Rick Young, Yamaha Corporate VP and the Council's chairman, recently took some time to speak with SBO about MAC's latest publication and its practical applications for music educators.

    School Band & Orchestra: First off, can you tell me a little bit about the MAC?
    Rick Young: The Music Achievement Council is an action-oriented non-profit organization sponsored by NABIM (the National Association of Band Instrument Manufacturers), NASMD (the National Association of School Music Dealers), and NAMM (the International Music Products Association.). The Council is comprised of three representatives from NABIM, three from NASMD, and one from NAMM. The purpose of the council is to promote instrumental music participation, with particular emphasis on producing materials that encourages students to join and stay in band and orchestra.

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  • Breathing Your Way to a Better Band

    Mike Lawson | August 14, 2007

    "More…More…MORE!" How many times as music educators have we shouted this word out of frustration with air production? For the majority of us, the question is answered with a number somewhere around one million, give or take a couple hundred thousand. Perhaps the more important question to ask ourselves is, "How many times a week as music educators do we incorporate breathing exercises into our daily warm-up procedures?" My intuition tells me the number is not nearly as high as the answer to the first question. Regrettably, for bands and students alike, not enough time is spent on the one fundamental that can instantly transform both individual and band sound: breathing.

    The Need for Breathing Warm-ups
    In many school rehearsal situations, directors barely have time to do any type of playing warm-up. How can anyone rationalize even just two precious minutes for a breathing exercise? The main justification lies in the fact that a proper airstream, coupled with a good embouchure, is critical in achieving superior performance. By mastering control of their breathing, students will improve their individual tone qualities and contribute to the overall sound of the ensemble. With tone being inseparably linked to intonation, breathing exercises also help with pitch stabilization and the result is generally a more "in-tune" sound. Appropriate breath support also helps students execute crescendos and decrescendos without going out of tune and allows them more control in extreme dynamic registers. Finally, students are able to play longer phrases in fewer breaths, heightening the musicality level of the ensemble. The benefits reaped from breathing exercises affect all aspects of performance from beginning band through the collegiate and professional ranks.

    If mastering correct breath control involved only taking big gulps of air before playing your part to get a better tone, directors would just need to be verbal "Post-It Notes" for their players, reminding them to take in more air for a richer sound. When habits are not formed early in the training of instrumentalists, students will respond to the litany of director outcries, but only for so long. Eventually the student, who once responded to the incessant begging and pleading, will dismiss these commands entirely.

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  • MENC Celebrates 100 Years

    Mike Lawson | May 23, 2007

    Our unique field of education benefits from the support of a large number of organizations and the largest one, MENC - The National Association for Music Education, is now celebrating the historic event of their 100th anniversary. This extraordinary milestone places a marker on the side of the mountain that we continue to climb in order to provide a sound musical education for every student in the United States. Although this goal may never be 100 percent achieved, the leadership and staff at MENC is certainly working creatively and effectively to make this dream a reality.

    According to the MENC Web site, the humble beginning of the organization was in 1907 with just 64 founding members. It has since grown to 130,000 members from all levels of music education, including pre-school through college, friends of music, and corporate and outside sponsors. This tremendous number of affiliates provides MENC with the resources necessary to accomplish projects such as the highly successful National Anthem project, their three-year program to restore recognition and understanding of the "Star Spangled Banner" and to get the country singing again.

    When you consider the depth of accomplishments of this organization it is not difficult to imagine the widespread visibility it has generated for music education. By partnering with some of the nation's great corporations and organizations, such as Jeep, Texaco, Oscar Meyer, NAMM, The Smithsonian, and many others, MENC has brought together disparate groups to foster support for their many pro-music education initiatives. Most notable have been the development of the National Standards for Music Education, sponsorship of the National Music in Our Schools Month, and the Harris Poll on how music programs contribute to higher school attendance and graduation rates, along with many other programs. MENC continues to support our efforts as music educators with both the Washington establishment and the country at large.

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  • Time is a Barometer of Success: More Shortcuts with Music Suite and Notation Applications Part Three of Four

    Mike Lawson | April 27, 2007

    Technology is supposed to make it easier and faster to accomplish tasks. And, in theory, music software applications can be worth their weight in gold. But there is an important issue to consider: the learning curve. This may challenge even the experienced among us. To counteract this, consider using suite applications. This allows different software applications to employ the same user interface, making mastery of the product much easier and more direct. Microsoft Office 97, 2000, 2002, 2003 and now the Microsoft Office 2007 suites are good examples for a business/office application. Many modules are seamlessly integrated - such as Microsoft Word, Access, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, among others - with data compatibility and the same user-interface.

    Model Suite Concept for Music Educators
    In a perfect world in terms of software development, an integrated suite is the most efficient way for busy music educators to teach several different software applications. However, most software applications are modular and proprietary. This means you have to learn different keystrokes between several software applications such as notation, sequencing, film scoring, et cetera. But now there is an Australian product that is attempting to set the global standard for all music software manufacturers. This powerful product seamlessly integrates six different instructional applications together with one user interface for the music education market. It is called Mastering Music, by Datasonics (www.datasonics.com.au).

    There are some unique features that help Mastering Music stand apart. In one integrated package, Mastering Music teaches lessons in composing, publishing, digital audio, music theory, ear training and film scoring. And the learning curve is refreshingly short. 430 comprehensive tutorial lessons guide the user through various musical activities, with hyperlinks in the lessons that link to a help page containing text, pictures and video tutorials that tell-and-show how to complete the activities. Using this approach, it doesn't take an "expert" to see results. Self-paced learning lets students move at a speed suited to their level of ability and experience. A V.I.P. introduction to Mastering Music is available online (www.datasonics.com.au/mmusavideo.html). You, the music educator, can spend time with students who need more direct supervision, while the majority of students will be able to work well on their own. The latest version of Mastering Music (7) includes a student log. As each student works through the lesson material, a log is generated containing which lessons were worked on, session times, and results achieved. Each student's log file is in XML format and can be viewed using the log viewer. The teacher can access these to prepare reports on the student's progress, or the logs can be accumulated to produce assessment reports.

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  • 2004 Midwest Band Clinic: Furthering the Careers of Music Educators

    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    The recent Midwest Band Clinic, held at the Chicago Hilton, was a typically action-packed affair, with numerous student performances, clinic sessions, award ceremonies, and lectures - not to mention plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, and socialize with colleagues and mentors. The exhibit halls were well trafficked and most organizations that we spoke with reported brisk business.

    Challenges in the New Year

    Budget cuts, government initiatives, and offshore instrument manufacture were some of the "hot topics" of 2004 for music educators. While at the Midwest Band Clinic, SBO took the opportunity to ask a handful of directors for their opinions on what issues will take center-stage in 2005.

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  • Music Literacy Applications

    Mike Lawson | September 1, 2006

    A new frontier for music educators is interactive Web-based instruction and assessment. Why? Because there aren't enough hours in the day let alone class time to do all the great things music educators can accomplish. And now with music technology, it is possible to successfully augment your curriculum as well as cleverly assess all those pressing standards.

    Interactive Web-based instruction and assessment can bring you and your students together with 24/7 flexibility. Band, choral, and string performance techniques now have home instruction options because programs such as Makemusic's SmartMusic and Pyware's iPAS can improve the quality of home practice and provide accountability data.

    The most recent development is numeric data assessment on your Web site that is not easily obtained in the classroom setting where teachers are overloaded with so many responsibilities. I can't think of anything more precious to busy music educators than more efficient use of their time.

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