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Orchestra

  • Listening with the Other Ear

    Mike Lawson | January 1, 2003

    When musicians come together to make music in a group, we assume they listen intently. But music-making uses so many mental and physical skills that the ears are often eclipsed.

    We can view an object for its color, its texture, its size, its shape, its distance from us, and its dance with positive and negative space, or look directly at it and not consciously notice anything. The same is true for our ears. To transition from involuntary hearing to active listening takes intention and practice. We must activate new auditory perceptions through isolation exercises that involve learning how to activate the brain differently to create multi-level listening. When we do this, it’s as if we’ve discovered a new way of hearing.

    Think of the brain as a series of muscles. If one “muscle” is over-used, it will become dominant, which can retard development in the other “muscles.” The body/brain will keep funneling control into the stronger skill; it’s a built-in default system.

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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...
  • 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...
  • 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 | 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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