• Making Band the Thing to Do

    Mike Lawson | July 15, 2008

    Read 10 Years EditorialFor the past 20 years, Susan Waters has made a career of building up band programs. Every middle school or high school ensemble she's taken over has seen a marked increase in participation and musical achievement.

    Now only a stone's throw from where she first picked up the clarinet so many years ago, Susan is creating a legacy at the newly-constructed W. H. Oliver Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • The View from the Top

    Mike Lawson | May 14, 2008

    Being named the Bands of America Grand National Champions is no small feat. And achieving that honor with a largely economically disadvantaged student body, where about one-third of the students participating have been playing music for less than three years and none have been marching for more than two, is downright astonishing.

    On the other hand, Hurst, Texas' L.D. Bell High School is no stranger to the podium at BOA's Grand Nationals, having placed in the top three each of the past three years, so one might have figured that an eventual breakthrough to the top of the field was inevitable.

  • A Tribute: Mark Williams

    Mike Lawson | March 13, 2008

    President Clinton once said, "You gotta sound bad before you can sound good" to a class of beginning instrumental students in Milwaukee. Mark Williams undoubtedly would have disagreed. Mark Williams, one of Alfred Publishing's most successful composers and arrangers, a self proclaimed "band geek" at heart who had a passion for empowering teachers to give beginning music students the best chance for success, passed away tragically on January 3, 2008. He was 52 years old.

    Since March is •Music in our Schools' month, it is only fitting to pay tribute to the life of someone who actually was responsible for bringing music into our schools.

    Mark was one of the premier composers for school bands and orchestras. Co-author of the Accent on Achievement Band Method, he had over 200 published works to his credit. As a clinician and guest conductor, he traveled to 34 states, five Canadian provinces, and Australia.

  • Automating Administrative Busywork, pt. 1 of 2

    Mike Lawson | September 19, 2007

    Though overwhelmed and overworked, music educators can juggle administrative and teaching duties better now than ever before with new time-saving tools. Cell phones and PDAs with telephone capabilities are the norm for busy people. But there are many more technological options to consider to lighten the workload. For this two-part series, I've selected some exciting tools to put on your Christmas wish list: business card management; voice-recognition-to-print software; optical character recognition; creative screen dumps, and multimedia file management.

  • Balanced Programs for Instrumental Teachers

    Mike Lawson | December 29, 2006In middle school and high school instrumental programs across the country, from the Midwest to the West Coast, instrumental departments often do not have “balanced programs.” Instrumental directors often conduct several concert bands and direct at least one jazz ensemble in order to hold a full-time position. Some schools, and their conductors, are known for […] Read More...
  • Searching For Inspiration

    Mike Lawson | November 17, 2006

    We all seek musical inspiration from different sources and occasionally it comes along even when we're not actively searching. It doesn't have to arise from our particular specialty, and inspiration could come from a variety of venues, including a symphony, rock, or jazz

    Recently I had one of those moments when my wife and I managed to acquire fi fth-row seats to a Boston Symphony concert at the Tanglewood Music Center. As we sat in the beautiful open-air amphitheater known as "The Shed," the inspiration was instilled in me. Standing only about 15 feet in front of me was Gil Shaham, one of the great virtuoso violinists of our time, who performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D.

    Not only was I floored by his effortless technique, musicality, and tone quality, but I was also awed by the fact that he seemed completely relaxed and was enjoying the performance perhaps even more than anyone in the audience.

  • SBO Guest Editorial

    Mike Lawson | October 21, 2006

    By Christopher Hill

  • Teacher Prep: Travel Planning 101

    Eric Matzat | October 1, 2003

    During my first several years of teaching, I would jump from my bed in the middle of the night and write down another item on my "to-do" list. My mind would work overtime, trying to distinguish between what needed to be focused on and what would take care of itself. There was that nagging feeling that I was always forgetting something. It did not take long for that to happen.

    We arrived at our first marching festival of the year during my first year of teaching. A freshman trombone player strolled up to me and asked, "Mr. Matzat, did you load my trombone?" Later on that same trip, we realized that our quint player left his drum carrier at home.

    On our next trip, the buses became separated on the highway and the second bus driver (who had no directions, map or communication with the lead bus) was lost for hours and nearly missed the performance altogether. One year, I forgot to bring blank judges' tapes for our state concert band festival.


    Mike Lawson | June 1, 2003

    With its pleasant climate and copious attractions, Orlando, Fla., has historically been a popular destination for school music groups across the country. With so many festival and performance opportunities available, directors may have a difficult time deciding which option is best for their ensembles. With that thought in mind, SBO presents an alphabetical guide to some of the music-related activities in the Orlando area.


    Mike Lawson | April 1, 2003

    The results are in: 57 percent of the directors who participated in SBO's recent survey on student recruitment and retention say retaining students in their music programs is the bigger challenge.

    "I think retaining is more difficult," says Carl Davick, who teaches orchestra to students in grades six through 12 in Monona, Wis. "Recruiting carries that excitement. After the initial excitement has worn off, you need to keep it exciting."

    Thirty-four percent of those surveyed say they think recruiting students is more difficult, particularly in the grades following the vital beginning years. Directors report that the transition from middle school to high school is the most difficult - and the most crucial.


    Mike Lawson | April 1, 2003

    The students in the music technology class at Bolivar (Mo.) High School are building electric guitars - from scratch. Last semester, they created and produced their own Christmas CD. Last month, the school's distance learning lab enabled the band's trumpet players to interact with professional musicians and educators across the country during a live trumpet clinic.

    And this has all been happening since the fall, when Stephen McClard became Bolivar High School's new band director.

    McClard's lifelong fascination with music technology began at age 12, when he saved up his money to buy one of the first mass-market personal computers - the Timex/Sinclair computer - at his town's local hardware store. From that point on, McClard was never without a computer. He started learning programming and even created his own music program that allowed him to compose more than one voice at a time, which he saved onto a tape drive.


    Mike Lawson | August 1, 2002Photos by Patrick Wright, Anderson, S.C. Early in his career, Richard Goodstein glimpsed his opportunity to make his mark on music education. While serving as a high school band director in Arizona, he became inspired to teach at the college level, where he hoped he could help shape future generations of music educators. “I was […] Read More...
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