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School

  • MAC Corner: Festival

    Marcia Neel | January 21, 2014

    Teaching to the Test: Preparing school bands and orchestras for Festival

    From time to time, I read articles or hear news stories that focus on teacher evaluation and how “unfair” it really is to judge a teacher by the assessment of his or her students’ work. Each time, I am reminded how much we music educators have been doing just that all along! Hello, “Performance” Assessment – even that term is borrowed from our vernacular.

    Being more about assessment than many of our fellow educators from the other academic areas, our students learn by “performing”; not necessarily in the concert sense of the word, but more generally in the “learning by doing” concept that is implicit in our instrumental music courses.

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  • From the Trenches: 2013 Holiday Wish List

    Mike Lawson | December 16, 2013

    My Annual Holiday Wish List for Santa

     

    Dear Santa,

    How are you? I hope you and the missus have had a fabulous year! How are the reindeer? Great, you say? Things here in the United States have been, let’s just say, interesting. There has been a lot of activity in education reform, work on the new standards for arts education, and some brilliant innovations in music education. We lost a few good people along the way, as well. Anyway, you know why I am writing. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. After a very careful review, I have assembled my annual gift list so all those who have earned their place here – both naughty and nice – may be rewarded appropriately.

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  • 2014 Grammy Signature School Semifinalists

    Mike Lawson | November 20, 2013

    U.S. High Schools in the Running for Grants for Music Excellence

    The Grammy Foundation has announced that 123 schools nationwide have been selected as Grammy Signature Schools semifinalists for 2014. Created in 1998, the Grammy Signature Schools program recognizes top U.S. public high schools that are making an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year.

    Each of the Signature Schools finalists will receive a custom award and a monetary grant to benefit its music program. The top programs are designated Gold recipients. The best of the Gold recipients is designated the National Grammy Signature School. The remaining schools are designated Grammy Signature Schools. For schools that are economically underserved, the Grammy Foundation established the Enterprise Award category to recognize the efforts in music education made by these schools. Grammy Signature Schools are made possible in part through the generous support of Converse, the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Hot Topic Foundation, and Journeys.

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  • Percussion Performance: Sight-Reading

    Mike Lawson | November 19, 2013

    Sight-Reading Contest Success and the Percussion Section

    One of the most daunting aspects of getting your band ready for contest is preparing them for the sight-reading room. With so much to consider, from the actual music to your preferred procedure for how your band should approach the experience, the percussion section can get lost in the mix. On a good day, the percussion may hardly even be noticed. On a bad day, the percussion section can be a real liability and can potentially create pitfalls that the rest of the band will fall into.

    Fortunately, this can be prevented when successful band programs actively apply the saying “plan your work and work your plan.”

    Being from Texas, I wrote this from my experiences at UIL Sight-Reading Contest as a band director and as a percussion specialist. It can be expected, however, that many of these strategies will work in other sight-reading Contest formats. Here are eight strategies that will make sure everyone knows their role, has a job to do, and can reasonably understand what to expect when they set foot in the sight-reading room.

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  • UpFront Q&A: Marilyn Kesler, SAA

    Mike Lawson | November 19, 2013

    Today’s Suzuki Method: A Conversation with Marilyn Kesler of the Suzuki Association of the Americas

    Decades before El Sistema thrust the youth orchestra back into the international spotlight through its widely acclaimed achievements with underserved children in Venezuela, Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shin’ichi Suzuki revolutionized string education with his philosophy of early childhood music education. Emphasizing rote memorization and learning by ear with students as young as three years old, Suzuki’s method quickly gained a major following among music educators in the U.S. and around the world during the second half of the 20th century. While Suzuki success stories abound, the method has also faced its share of criticism, particularly in regards to its de-emphasis of the importance of reading music, limited repertoire, and a purported lack of creative development.

    After teaching orchestra in the public schools of Okemos, Michigan for more than 40 years, Marilyn Kesler now chairs the Board of Directors for the Suzuki Association of America. In this conversation with SBO, Kesler talks candidly about the strengths and limitations of the Suzuki method, while addressing some of the larger challenges that face music education today.

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