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Orchestra

  • UPFRONT: HOW TO START A STRING PROGRAM FROM SCRATCH

    Mike Lawson | January 1, 2003

    String programs used to be a part of a complete music program in schools across the country. As budgets diminished, and many arts programs were cut, a large number of string programs were among them. Fortunately, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in strings. One reason for this is that districts are looking for ways to improve those all-important test scores. They are realizing that some early "hands-on" experience with instruments helps students retain their music skills at test time. Since string instruments are available in sizes suitable for elementary students, it makes them an excellent choice for this mission.

    Getting Started

    There are many advantages to creating a string program that starts students at an early age. Playing a string instrument helps develop hand-eye coordination. This and other necessary motor skills are easier for young children to develop than they will be as they get older. This is important for success as a string player. I start students in the third grade. They can be responsible for practicing alone at home at that age and can participate effectively in a group.

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  • UPCLOSE: VANCE MILLER

    Mike Lawson | October 1, 2002

    It's a situation that most music students and directors can relate to: waiting backstage and experiencing pre-competition jitters. In this particular scenario, however, there is the added pressure of the television cameras and crew that have been following the director and his students for weeks, capturing all their feats and flaws on film.

    The director warms up the orchestra students with one of the pieces they plan to play for the judges a few minutes later. The orchestra's collective bundle of nerves produces some unfamiliar and unwelcome sounds from their instruments, resulting in cringes and pained expressions on many of the students' faces. The director, Vance Miller, tells it to them straight: "I haven't heard you that bad in several months."

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  • UPFRONT: UNITED IN SONG

    Mike Lawson | September 1, 2002

    One year after the September 11th tragedies, it's noteworthy to look back at how the country's music classes responded to the terrorist attacks that occurred on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning. Within a matter of weeks - and, in some cases, within a matter of days - music teachers and their students, all across America, brought their communities together in song. Some held impromptu candlelight vigils on the town football field, where friends and neighbors gathered to sing along with student bands and choruses. In many schools, students worked together on creating their own song to honor those who lost their lives and to express their pride and strength in the face of terrorism. Still other music classes paid tribute with a semester-long study of patriotic music, culminating in a rousing public performance of all they had learned.

    Overnight, the singing and playing of patriotic standards like "God Bless America," "America, the Beautiful," and "The Star Spangled Banner" are striking a deeper chord, and it's the country's musical ensembles that are uniting the nation in song. Americans are rediscovering the power and beauty of patriotic music as students attempt to bring some solace and, if possible, some hope to a tragic situation.

    At Great Neck North High School in Great Neck, N.Y., the September 11th attacks hit uncomfortably close to home.

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  • Playing Tip of the Month

    Mike Lawson | May 1, 2002School music educators who submit their Playing Tips to School Band and Orchestra online will be eligible to win an embroidered SBO polo shirt. To enter, music educators can register their playing tips on the SBO Web site. One playing tip will be selected as the winner each month and, in addition to being awarded […] Read More...
  • UPFRONT: SOLVING ACOUSTIC PROBLEMS IN REHEARSAL SPACES

    Mike Lawson | April 1, 2002In an ideal world, every music educator could design his or her own rehearsal and practice facilities, working with world-class acoustical experts and unlimited financial resources. In reality, however, music educators must “make do” with facilities that are often inadequate, antiquated or poorly designed. When a rehearsal or practice space has poor acoustical properties, the […] Read More...
  • Playing Tip of the Month

    Mike Lawson | April 1, 2002School music educators who submit their Playing Tips to School Band and Orchestra online will be eligible to win an embroidered SBO polo shirt. To enter, music educators can register their playing tips on the SBO Web site. One playing tip will be selected as the winner each month and, in addition to being awarded […] Read More...
  • Playing Tip of the Month

    Mike Lawson | March 1, 2002School music educators who submit their Playing Tips to School Band and Orchestra online will be eligible to win an embroidered SBO polo shirt. To enter, music educators can register their playing tips on the SBO Web site. One playing tip will be selected as the winner each month and, in addition to being awarded […] Read More...
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