News & Views Friday, December 19, 2014

Category: Concert Band

Live from The Midwest Clinic – Day 2 19 December, 2014

exhibit hall entranceby Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

Day 2 of the 2014 Midwest Clinic has come and gone, and it was quite an active day. The Stanton’s booth was busy, especially around mid-day with plenty of educators and students loading up on method books, solo and ensemble repertoire, and new concert pieces. One of my favorite aspects of working our booth is meeting directors that we don’t know, passing along our new band music promotions, and explaining our selection process.

Visitors to the Stanton’s booth included our good friend James Swearingen, FJH orchestra composer Lauren Bernofsky, and Hal Leonard arranger Johnnie Vinson. In addition, I had an engaging and enthusiastic conversation with Alfred composers Chris Bernotas and Vince Gassi. Band Education Specialist Kent White attended the session on Scale & Rhythm Chunks by Ohio’s own Richard Canter. It was standing room only with over 500 people attending his session, and we have all but sold out of the copies we had at the booth!

One of the other unique elements of The Midwest Clinic is the number of composers and arrangers on-hand. As mentioned above, I spent quite a bit of time today speaking with Chris Bernotas and Vince Gassi, as well as Randall Standridge, Grand Mesa president Walter Cummings, and FJH composers Travis Weller and Brian Balmages.

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The “Barnhouse Party Bus,” on the way to dinner

maggianoAgain our day was capped off witbarney awardh a fantastic meal, this time at Maggiano’s Little Italy courtesy of C.L. Barnhouse. It’s in a great historic building that probably dates to the 20’s. To our surprise Stanton’s along with RBC Music of Texas were honored with the presentation of the “Barney” Award in recognition of our long relationship in selling and promoting Barnhouse titles. A much appreciated and heartfelt presentation was given by James Swearingen. I also got to hear a number of fantastic (and hilarious) stories about Chuck Barnhouse since I was seated between Barnhouse president Andy Clark and Ed Peterson of Omega Recordings, the company that records the Washington Winds.

That’s all for today from The Windy City (or Gotham if you’re a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy).

About the Author
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He is thrilled to have had gelato and fantastic cheesecake for dessert over the past two nights! Seriously, Cheesecake Factory – meh.


Live from The Midwest Clinic – Day 1 18 December, 2014

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Ryan Nowlin & Stanton’s band guru Kent White

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Ryan Nowlin & Stanton’s band guru Kent White

20141217_095909by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

Sweet Home Chicago

Greetings from the exhibit hall at the 2014 Midwest Clinic! After a full day of set up on Tuesday (check out our time lapse video here), I am excited to share Stanton’s Midwest debut.

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Ryan Nowlin & Stanton’s band guru Kent White

While exhibit hall traffic was light on our first day, things began to pick up after 1:00 pm as more band and orchestra directors, students and parents began to arrive. As always, it is fun to see some of our Ohio and Kentucky friends and educators at national (and international) conferences. Band directors from Westerville, New Bremen, Lexington (OH), and Louisville, KY were among some of the familiar faces on the first day, along with Ohio State, Capital, and Baldwin Wallace having booths here as well. In addition, we were thrilled to be visited by composer and Columbus native Roger Cichy, educator and 2014 Capital Reading Clinic guest Paula Crider, and Ohio native and staff arranger for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Ryan Nowlin. Stay tuned for a Q&A post with First Lieutenant Nowlin in the near future!

Of course, professional conferences are about making new friends and bringing sheet music to the masses, but they are also great opportunities to speak with our publisher representatives (and sometimes CEOs!) face-to-face about new music, textbooks, and other products, talk about specific ways to improve service, and catch some music industry scoop.

The day was capped off with excellent food. The Stanton’s staff is happy to recommend RBC Steakhouse, and Café Bionda where I had fantastic southern Italian cuisine (and gelato!).

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for our Day 2 recap tomorrow!

About the Author
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He is excited to introduce his son to some favorite Christmas specials this year including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Vintage!


Combo Concerts: Band or Orchestra and Choir 12 December, 2014

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

The concert schedule foband and choirr lots of schools is the same year-in and year-out.  Consider shaking things up this year with a “combo” concert!  Combine your groups across levels (imagine how big your band will be with students grades 5-12!) or across genres (your 6th grade choir would love to sing a piece or a medley with your high school jazz band!).

Whether it is a holiday performance, patriotic salute, or end of the year celebration, there is no more powerful statement to your community than a performance that features both your instrumental and vocal performing ensembles.  Show your parents, administrators, and school board members how many lives you and your colleagues touch, and give your students an experience that they will remember for years to come.

Dry Your Tears, Afrika – Music by John Williams, choral adaptation by Audrey Snyder, band and strings arrangements by Paul Lavenderdry your tears afrika

This arrangement from the moving 1997 movie Amistad features poetry by Bernard Dadie in the Mende language, and music by arguably the greatest film composer of all time, John Williams.  Since the choral is available in a variety of versions, this can be done with children’s choir, middle school choir, high school choir or any combination.  In addition, the available String Pak means that your orchestra and/or band could play.  Present this with sensitive program notes, appropriate readings or even excerpts of the film – your students will gain a new perspective on the history involved in this amazing music.

***For more advanced orchestral/choral groups, consider the John Williams Signature Edition of this piece for orchestra, SATB Choir and Children’s Choir.

SATB (08741425) – $1.95               SAB  (08741426) – $1.95               2 Part (08741427) – $1.95

Concert Band (04001735) – $70.00               String Pak (04626104) – $40.00

***John Williams Signature Edition, including orchestral & choral parts (04490084) – $375.00

Carols From the British Isles – arr. Douglas Wagner

carols from the british islesI love this carol medley specifically because it uses carols that are not overdone, but still common enough that your audience will recognize the tunes.  Included are “Suogan,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Good People All, This Christmastime,” and “The Seven Joys of Mary.”  Since the band arrangement and choral arrangement(s) can be done as stand alone pieces, take some time to analyze where you may want to eliminate the melody in the instrumental (so as to feature the choir), or eliminate the chorals for a section to feature your instrumentalists.  The variety of voicings available for the choirs make this piece very do-able for most middle school or high school groups.  The Grade 3 band arrangement should be a cinch for your high school students, and could be playable by a strong middle school group as well.   Students will need the ability to play and sing in 6/8 time, while rhythms and ranges are moderate.

SATB (41762) – $1.85               SAB (41763) – $1.85               SSA (41764) – $1.85

Concert Band (39540) – $65.00

Armed Forces: Pride of America – arr. Larry Clark and Greg Gilpin

armed forces pride of america4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day – we get calls each year for service medleys that can be performed at all of these occasions.  Our instrumental staff is a fan of this arrangement; it has some great quotations of Sousa marches in between the songs for each branch of the service.  Though written primarily for concert band,  there are reproducible string parts that come with the concert band arrangement.  At just under 7 minutes, it can be a bit of chop buster but this is the ONLY arrangement that features the songs of all 5 service branches. It also encourages audience participation by including a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.  A solid piece for all organizations to have in their music libraries.

SATB (CM8973) – $2.75     SAB (CM8974) – $2.75     2 Part (CM8975) – $2.75     TTBB (CM8976) – $2.75

Concert Band w/ reproducible String Parts (CPS61) – $90.00

If you feel your group is ready for a traditional classical experience, try Schubert’s “Mass in G” or Vivaldi’s “Gloria.”  Both are about 20-30 minutes in length, although doing just the “Gloria in Excelsis” movement of the “Gloria” is an option.  One of the representatives in our choral department will be happy to help you if you’d like more information on pursuing either of these large works.

For more recommendations, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com  Previous posts in this series : Men’s Combo Concerts; Women’s Combo Concerts; High School Choir w/ Children’s Choir

Rachel Steele has been working in the choral department at Stanton’s since 2013.  She previously taught middle school and high school band and choir for 13 years, and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music education from The Ohio State University.  Currently a member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble and a musician at Epiphany Lutheran Church (Pickerington, OH,) Rachel also enjoys reading, sewing, baking and the Pittsburgh Steelers!


Behind the Scenes: It’s That Time of Year… 04 December, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

The holidays are already upon us. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Christmas and Hanukkah are just around the corner. For the Stanton’s staff it means that convention season is also here! This winter we will be exhibiting (and selling!) music at music educators’ professional conferences in New York (NYSSMA), Michigan (MMC), Ohio (OMEA), Kentucky (KMEA), and, for the first time, The Midwest Clinic. These conferences are a great opportunity to talk shop directly with our expert staff, meet customers face-to-face that we may recognize by name (and voice!), and besides, it gets us out of the store! Ever wonder how our 6-8 booths of music get to your state conference? Check out the slideshow below to see how we pull, pack, and transport thousands of sheet music titles and accessory items, and if we’re exhibiting at your conference be sure to stop by the Stanton’s booth (under the big blue balloon) and say “hello”!

Click to view slideshow.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. All he wants for Christmas is a Pittsburgh Penguins tuque, Guardians of the Galaxy on blu-ray, and some heavy-duty outerwear so he can play in the snow with his son this winter!


Behind the Scenes: Writing Up the Young Band Promotion 24 November, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

Way back in August and September (you know – when it was warm) I wrote a couple of Behind the Scenes posts: “Picking Band Promotions” and “What I Listen For”. Both dealt with choosing new band titles to promote. The next step after the titles have been chosen is creating new write-ups for them. Since I am responsible for the write-ups for our young band selections, they are what we’re going to focus on in this post.

calvin376_2I’m sure you’ve encountered publisher write-ups that range from slight insight into thematic and programming aspects of pieces to virtually no real information at all. They vary in quality and detail from publisher to publisher, and generally don’t present much in the way of music teaching elements or skills required to perform a work. As music educators teaching developing players, you know that establishing a solid foundation and helping students achieve success is important. As a former band director and occasional private teacher, I can’t imagine trying to select pieces without much idea about what can be taught or what students need to be able to do to play them. This is why the Stanton’s band staff creates our own write-ups for every piece we promote!

snoopyWith the young band titles, I try to strike a balance between musical skills, teaching opportunities, and programming uses and ideas while throwing in fun little twists that (hopefully) make them worth reading. Musically I tend to focus on rhythmic complexity, style, meter, key changes (if any), form (repeats, multiple endings, D.S., D.C., etc.), and aspects that address ensemble playing and musical growth. From a programming standpoint, I not only try to address the thematic idea behind a piece and any co-curricular applications (i.e. historical events), but how it can be used to create variety within a concert program for the teacher, the audience and the players. These aspects not only contribute to your students’ overall education, but enhance their musicianship as well. We’re always looking for pieces that stand out not just musically, but that are unique and interesting to present. Of course the challenge is to incorporate all these elements in a write-up that is informative, digestible, and short enough to fit in our print promotion (about 3 lines in length).

I hope this post gives you more insight into our process of selecting the best new music, and that it encourages you to spend some time with our promotions. If you haven’t, dig up your recent copy amongst the myriad paperwork, reeds, and publisher promotions on your desk and crack the cover. More than just presenting our “choices” I hope you find our write-ups useful in selecting new music, and helpful in your lesson planning and concert programming.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He has been providing write-ups for Stanton’s young band promotions since 2005. He hopes you find them informative, helpful, and (somewhat) entertaining!


Join Stanton’s at the 2014 Midwest Clinic! 21 November, 2014

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Stanton’s Sheet Music is excited to announce that for the first time in our 50+ year history, we will be exhibiting at The Midwest Clinic, December 17-20, 2014!

Join band specialists Kent White and Ken Tilger, “The Jazz Guy” Ben Huntoon, and orchestra specialist Dan Clark, along with technology guru/computer ninja David Ginter and Stanton’s Sheet Music President Eric Strouse at McCormick Place, Booth #1037. Browse and shop hundreds of titles for wind band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and solo & ensemble, while taking advantage of their combined 100+ years of sheet music expertise. Trivia, useless knowledge, and jokes provided free of charge!

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

The Lowdown
The Midwest Clinic
December 17-20, 2014
McCormick Place
Chicago, IL

Booth #1037

Exhibit Hall Hours:
Wednesday, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm


Stanton’s LIVE!: 2014 New Band Music Reading Clinic Recap 20 November, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

The 13th annual Wind Band Invitational and New Band Music Reading Clinic was held November 14-15 at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. This two-day event featured the reading of 70 of the best new pieces for band with a total of 90 works performed! In addition, 134 students from 59 schools participated in the Honors Wind Ensemble under the direction of Paula Crider and Honors Concert Band directed by Jeffrey Gershman and James Swearingen.

Pickerington HS NorthThe New Music Reading Clinic consisted of 3 reading sessions, 2 by the Directors’ Reading Band; 1 with the Capital University Wind Symphony, covering 61 new band titles from grade 0.5-4.5. Instead of the professional gloss of publisher preview recordings, band directors heard the titles as they were sight-read by live musicians and sight-read some themselves. This is a great way to preview new music in detail, get programming ideas, and network with colleagues after the long marching band season. In addition to the reading sessions, other new titles were presented in a fantastic guest concert performance by the Pickerington High School North Symphonic Winds under the direction of Marc Parulekar.

The Wind Band Invitational featured 4 more concert performances including the Capital University Symphonic Winds, Capital University Wind Symphony, Honors Concert Band, and Honors Wind Ensemble. The honors bands are a wonderful opportunity for some of the best high school players from around Ohio to perform together and work with world-renowned conductors and clinicians, while the university concerts present some of the most challenging repertoire for wind band performed at the highest level.

If you missed this year’s reading clinic, head over to Stanton’s Virtual Workshop – you can view the reading sessions there, and catch footage from the second Directors’ Band session.  You can also check out our previous reading sessions for more great programming ideas, and keep reading our blog for more Stanton’s LIVE events!

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He is thankful for his family (especially his 2 year old son), his day gig in the music industry, and that he still gets to play the saxophone.  Oh, and pie!


Stanton’s Spotlight: The Spirit of Thanksgiving 13 November, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

“Lyrical settings by Robert Sheldon are always worth your time”.

thanksgiv-dayThis is how I chose to begin my write-up for this title, and in short, enough said. Sheldon has a propensity for writing full, lush harmonic arrangements that are great vehicles for developing ensemble musicianship – especially for young bands. Look no further than his gorgeous An Australian Sea Ballad for additional proof.

In the case of The Spirit of Thanksgiving, he has not only woven together two very familiar hymn tunes (We Gather TogetherPraise God from Whom All Blessings Flow) in a lovely concert presentation, but given us a wonderful programming option. While haunting Halloween and celebratory Christmas selections are a dime a dozen, finding a work that highlights the uniqueness and gratitude of Thanksgiving is all but impossible. Soft and reflective, yet powerful, this work is a poignant lyrical programming selection that is perfect for fall or Christmas/holiday concerts. The hymn tunes that are the basis for this work make it a wonderful choice for religious schools, as well.

Musically The Spirit of Thanksgiving is much more than your standard hymn setting. Each of the hymns is in a different time signature – the work moves from 3/4 to 4/4, then back, and there is a key change from concert Bb to F. Of course, the opportunities to develop dynamic shading, group phrasing, and ensemble blend and balance are present as well. To top it off, this piece also correlates to Book 2, Level 2 of the Sound Innovations band method.

Do yourself a favor, and give this piece a listen, then pick up a copy. Even if you don’t use it this year, think how pleasantly surprised you’ll be when you “discover” it in your library next year. It’s one that I would pick up on its programming merits alone. It’s also one that I consider a “sleeper” – no, not one to snooze through – rather a great piece that too many directors will overlook because it doesn’t stand out in all the usual ways. Instead, it stands out in all the right ways, and that’s something to be thankful for.

The Spirit of Thanksgiving
arr. Robert Sheldon
Grade 1.5
Catalog # 41910          $48.00
Lyrical settings by Robert Sheldon are always worth your time.  Blending We Gather Together and Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, he has created a lush, stirring ballad perfect for fall programming, as well as religious schools.  Dynamic shading, group phrasing, and ensemble blend and balance can be addressed, in addition to flowing, lyrical playing; each hymn is in a different time signature (3/4 & 4/4); the piece also contains 1 key change (Bb to F) on the powerful climax to a touching, maestoso ending.  Correlates to Sound Innovations, Book 2, Level 2.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He is thankful for his family (especially his 2 year old son), his day gig in the music industry, and that he still gets to play the saxophone.  Oh, and pie!


Pertinent Professional Development 21 October, 2014

by Jen Sper and Ken Tilger, School Music Specialists

IMG_0809Professional development days/sessions can be of great benefit to educators – IF they are relevant and applicable to your subject area! We were honored to be invited to present sessions at the Fine Arts Professional Development Day through the Tri-County Educational Service Center in Wooster, Ohio on October 17. Music teachers from Ashland, Wayne and Holmes counties gathered at the Wayne Center for the Arts for a full day of arts-related professional development sessions – a great opportunity to both learn from outside presenters and network with other nearby music educators!

With numerous new options for band warm-up/technique and beginning band, Ken’s session for band and orchestra directors highlighted books from publishers including Alfred (Sound Innovations; S.I. Ensemble Development), Hal Leonard (Essential Elements Interactive), FJH (Measures of Success; Warm-Ups and Beyond), Kjos (Tradition of Excellence; Technique & Musicianship), and Focus On Music (Scale & Rhythm Chunks). Online resources through the Stanton’s website were explored (Jukebox, Listening Library, mobile app, etc.), as well as sharing the Top 10 New Titles for Band for 2014-2015 using a custom playlist created through the Stanton’s Jukebox.

Jen presented a reading session for the choral directors in attendance, featuring new concert, festival and holiday literature for middle school and high school ensembles. A couple of brave sight-readers even served as accompanists! Many titles included were specially selected as quality options for OMEA Adjudicated Event performances, or are new additions to the required repertoire lists. Also discussed were recent changes to the required lists, and how these changes affect teacher’s programming and budgeting options.

IMG_0812On the way back, IMG_0813a stop at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn in Ashland was a requirement (we gotta eat, right?). One of Jen’s favorite stops on her way back and forth to college, Ken had never been before – and it’s a lot to take in! Much cheese (and dip, and jelly, and cider, and and and…) was consumed. :)

Are YOU planning programming for an upcoming professional development event? Contact us and let us help! Our knowledgeable and experienced staff are able to present a wide variety of sessions (and would love a field trip out of the store!), and we’re happy to tailor our topics to fit your needs.

About the authors:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.

Jen has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, and an active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys eating good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.


Don’t Miss These Christmas Arrangements! 15 October, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

While we are promoting 9 excellent new Christmas titles for young band this year, these 2 are unique stand-outs that you just shouldn’t miss! Both offer great opportunities to advance the musicianship of your groups, and are creative and interesting choices that will add variety to your holiday concert program. I’ve included our promotional write-ups as well as some additional commentary about each piece. I hope you find these recommendations helpful, and that you, your students, and your audience enjoy these pieces as much as I do.

Christmas at the Circus
Randall Standridge
Grade 2.5
Fun from start to finish!  Combining themes from Thunder and Blazes and The Man on the Flying Trapeze with snippets of a ton of holiday favorites, this humorous work is fun to listen to and a blast to play.  High-wire musicianship is a must – from layered themes and accidentals to key, style, and meter changes, and 8th note rhythm dished around the band like Christmas presents, no section receives a lump of coal in this piece!  Christmas at the Circus is a great choice for advanced middle school or young high school bands.

O.K., so this one seems blasphemous not just for religious (or circus music) reasons, but also because the setting utilizes plenty of familiar Christmas songs and carols. No worries – it is very creative, puts an original programming spin on the Instant Concert concept, and gives your audience plenty to hang on to. It will be fun to perform, and don’t be fooled by the grade 2.5 difficulty – it requires enough musicianship that it is perfect for young high school bands and will be a hit with community band programs, as well.

Season of Peace
Gene Milford
Grade 1.5
Inspired by Christmas 1914 when British and German troops in the midst of World War I held an unofficial truce that included singing carols and exchanging food and gifts, Season of Peace blends Dona Nobis Pacem with Silent Night for a moment of calm reflective peace.  Besides being a stirring concert selection, the 3/4 meter, dotted quarter-note rhythms, 8th note and triplet runs, and lyricism provide ample opportunity to advance ensemble musicianship.

Two young band arrangements have been inspired by the 100th anniversary of this event, and this stirring setting stands out. Combining the Dona Nobis Pacem (“Grant us peace”) from the Latin Mass with the stillness and beauty of Silent Night is just brilliant, and our write-up says it all, “…for a moment of calm reflective peace.” That is exactly what this work will provide – a poignant moment of calm reflection amidst the celebratory jubilance (and hustle and bustle) of the season. Again, don’t be put off by the “easy” grade level. Musical maturity is always a must on lyrical works, and can be performed to great effect by more advanced ensembles – the challenge here is not technique, but musicianship. Season of Peace is a wonderful choice educationally (musicianship, music history, AND world history), and is perfect for religious school band programs.

About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT: The Witching Hour 01 October, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

It’s already October, and I can’t think of a better way to start the month than by shining the Stanton’s Spotlight on The Witching Hour by Randall Standridge for concert band. It’s my favorite, and probably the best, new piece this year!

From the description, “This macabre work entices the listener into that bewitching time of night when dark forces gather to celebrate and do their mischief. Four interconnected themes are announced by haunting chime statements…”  The interconnected themes in different settings and styles combined with the ominous grandfather clock chimes tie the four sections of this work into one cohesive whole with each section representing a quarter hour.

Introduction
The piece opens with an ominous drone in the low winds and the first tolling of the chimes of both warning and mystery – for whom the bell tolls – to great effect.

The Gathering
The first quarter hour features well written and effective auxiliary percussion, chromatic lines and intervals, tremolo effects in some of the woodwinds, and the typical Eastern European sound/dance style a la Transylvania. The synthesized harpsichord adds a ghastly and slightly grating sound that puts this section over the top!

Spells and Incantations
Haunting mallet percussion sets the eerie feeling of the second quarter hour featuring dynamic swells, haunting long tones and disturbing rhythmic interjections in the trumpets (8th notes – 1 beat triplet – 16th notes). This even-odd-even pattern adds to the off-balance feeling of the section.

The Witches’ Dance
Now that the witches have gathered and cast ceremonial spells and incantations, it’s time to cut loose! Heralded by the familiar chime and an ominous timpani roll, this section is an odd meter (5/4 written as 3/4 + 2/4) dance. In the style of an off-beat waltz, we begin with a steady tempo full of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sonic flavor highlighted by modal 16th note woodwind runs before a gradual accelerando pushes it to the brink of out-of-control ecstasy.

The Witches’ Flight
One last set of chimes leads into a fourth quarter hour of explosive full ensemble playing. This dance-like section is underpinned by driving 8th notes as the witches take to their brooms and our dark celebration drives to the ending!

As always with these heavily programmatic works, there is plenty to teach ranging from mixed meter, to tempo and style changes and transitions, to accidentals that create the proper harmonic effect, to auxiliary percussion instruments and fun, musical effects. These musically exaggerated settings create opportunities that can really enhance both individual and ensemble musicianship in a context that is a blast to play! It is great seasonal programming for this time of year, a fun musical goal for the spring, or a wonderful (and fresh) adjudication alternative. Ohio directors who want a break from the usual band overture, piece with contemporary “edge”, or wind band standards will be glad to know that The Witching Hour is on the Ohio Class B list for 2015!

The Witching Hour is an original compositional masterpiece. It is a study in perfect form and balance. There are sufficient themes to hold on to, yet it is full of great tonalities, effects, and rhythms that fit its theme and bring the piece to life. Every element serves the greater musical narrative. As a result, it has ongoing forward motion and never gets bogged down. It is challenging but not impossible to play, and most importantly, it is a FUN piece of music! All of these elements combine to allow it to hold the performers’ and audience’s attention. In short, it perfectly meets all the criteria mentioned in my recent What I Listen For post, and is why I’m excited to feature it in my first Stanton’s Spotlight post for this school year!

Other haunting new titles we recommend: Ghosts of the Lost Ship by Tyler S. Grant, Haunted Clocks by Brian Balmages, and Zombie Tango by James Meredith

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He always feels the urge to read Edgar Allan Poe, the original novels featuring traditional Hollywood monsters, and other macabre tales this time of year, yet never does.


Why I Look Forward to New Music from Grand Mesa, and You Should Too! 26 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

Grand Mesa CB PromoAmong the dozen or so publishers whose new concert band titles we preview each year, one that I look forward to most is Grand Mesa. While the largest band publishers release 60-100 new titles each year across multiple series, small publishers like Grand Mesa release a limited number of new pieces (22 in 2014). Since we usually listen to publisher promotions from beginning to end, this allows us to preview their entire band promotion in a couple of hours instead of devoting an entire workday (or more) to one single promotion.

This smaller number of new releases, I believe, results in a tighter, more cohesive promotion that is much more enjoyable to listen to. The amount of unique, original writing has really gotten our attention (check out our Composer Profile on Randall Standridge), and the consistency from title to title is excellent. We score each new title on a scale of 1-10 (10 = Awesome!), and most Grand Mesa titles usually receive between a 7 and 10. This quality and consistency has led to Stanton’s promoting 5 of their new titles this year, and 3 Grand Mesa works are currently on the Ohio required concert band lists. Their arrangements run the gamut from contemporary (Adrenaline Engines) to classical (Scenes from Old Russia), and features (Slidin’ Down the Mississippi) to just plain fun (Zooveniers). This variety presents interesting programming and solid teaching opportunities.

Besides releasing really good new music each year, Grand Mesa features some of the coolest, fun, and creative covers (check out the slideshow below to see some of our favorites). In addition, full scores to their works can be viewed online, and you can download recordings of their music for free by creating a login on their website. If you want to see for yourself, check out our recommended titles below or click on the promotional image to preview Grand Mesa’s new titles for 2014-15. You may also use Stanton’s 21-Day Trial to try out in stock and new titles with your students.

I hope this introduction to Grand Mesa Music Publishers provides some exciting new music choices for you and your students, and that you look forward to their new releases each year as much as I do!

Grand Mesa Music Publishers is an independent instrumental music publisher in Grand Junction, Colorado that specializes in concert band, marching band, string orchestra, and solo and ensemble publications. You can learn more about Grand Mesa by visiting their website, and order their publications from Stanton’s Sheet Music.

Stanton’s Recommends: Adrenaline Engines, Angelic Celebrations, Darklands March, Gadget, The Ride of Percival, The Rowan Tree, Ruckus, The Witching Hour, Zooveniers

Click to view slideshow.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


Behind the Scenes: What I Listen For 25 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

Taking our previous Behind the Scenes post (Behind the Scenes: Picking Band Promotions) one step further, I want to share what I hear and listen for when previewing new concert band recordings. Although I’ve broken these ideas down into an outline format, it’s neither a checklist nor sequential; just things I keep in mind while listening. Hopefully this will give you some ideas that you can incorporate in your listening to new music, and further insight into some of the thought process that goes into Stanton’s band promotions.

At “first glance”, I’m listening for elements that make a piece sound unique, creative, and interesting regardless of difficulty, and all of the following contribute to this first impression.

Percussion – One of the things that we’ve noticed over the past decade or so is how much interesting, colorful percussion adds to a piece. Use of accessory instruments, quality mallet writing, and battery percussion beyond “boom-chicks” and basic subdivision makes a huge difference in the sound and maturity of a piece no matter how basic the overall difficulty. This presents great opportunities to teach accessory instruments, and helps keep students engaged – we all know what happens when 12 of your 15 percussionists are sitting idle! Of course, this is a double-edged sword – extensive percussion can really make a piece and there is plenty of great percussion writing right now, however this is a difficult area if you’re lacking enough students or the needed equipment.

Does it sound modern/contemporary? – This really applies to new original pieces. Some of the most fun, contemporary sounding works are incorporating techniques used in modern film scores, and we all know from previewing music that there are arrangements that sound dated. Also, if the piece is supposed to be of the contemporary “edgy” variety, is there enough of a melody or rhythmic hook to hang your hat on? Just doing neat things with sound doesn’t cut it.

If the piece is in a style (or if it is an arrangement), is it authentic? – Nothing makes or breaks a piece for me like capturing the essence of a style. This includes characteristic sound and harmonies, rhythms, and use of instrumentation. There are many pieces that try to incorporate hints of a style, and mostly end up sounding cheesy. Why not introduce students to the most authentic editions available? This creates opportunities to work on rhythmic reading, articulation, phrasing, and musicianship beyond the legato wind band approach. Besides, we all have programmed super-watered pop arrangements designed to be rhythmically “accessible” by young groups, and had to tell students to play the page, not how the tune actually goes. To me this is an opportunity to do the opposite – allow students to use rhythms they already know aurally to learn how to read the notation.

Does the piece justify/live up (or down) to its title? – We’ve all heard the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover.” Aside from wanting the content of a piece to actually be represented by the title, there are numerous examples of decently titled pieces that are good in concept, but (let’s say) underwhelming in their execution. Likewise, there have been a number of pieces that I would personally skip listening to based on their cheesy titles, but since we listen to everything I wind up finding that some are really good, and just deserve a better title.

Will students have fun playing it? – In the last couple of years, I’ve adopted this approach from our Jazz Guy, Ben.

Beginning band music does not have to equal “baby band”. – Modern beginning band arrangements provide many opportunities to explore fun styles and interesting sounds all while staying true to the limitations of beginning instrumentalists. Through the use of interesting percussion, staggered rhythmic motion on basic rhythms, and passing tones, clusters, etc. interesting music can be written at this level. Need proof? Check out the entire FJH Starter Series, and beginning band pieces by Brian Balmages, Sean O’Loughlin, and Robert W. Smith.

What musical concepts/techniques can be taught or reinforced? – Or, put another way, what do your students need to be able to do to play the piece? This idea is integral to our young band promotional write-ups obviously for educational reasons, but also because most publisher descriptions avoid this altogether and instead focus primarily on programming if you’re lucky.

Attention Span! – This is another big one for me that I’ve begun focusing on in the last few years, especially on upper level concert pieces. Basically if I zone out as a trained musician who appreciates quality art for art’s sake, what will parents with limited to no musical experience get out of it? Also, if a piece loses our attention while listening to it, it’s possible that your students won’t be engaged while playing it either.

Lastly, how can the piece be programmed? – While listening, I’m not only thinking about the students learning and performing the music, but the experience of the audience, and how/when a director can find a specific piece useful. This relates to seasonal programming, but also to the type of performance/event and audience that a piece is appropriate for.

I hope you found these ideas insightful and helpful. Feel free to comment below on either our blog or Facebook page and share YOUR thoughts and ideas about evaluating new music.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


Composer Profile: Randall Standridge 09 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

Randall StandridgeRandall Standridge has quickly become one of our favorite band composers first getting our attention with Afterburn and Adrenaline Engines. His bold, contemporary sound and modern compositional influences combined with driving rhythmic punch result in music that is fun to play, and popular with students and band directors. While his high school level Steel is also in this mold, Standridge’s music is far from one-note. His gorgeous melancholy setting of the Scottish ballad The Rowan Tree is a favorite for lyrical ensemble performance and nuance, while Gadget (exploring the wonder and innovation of mid 20th century technology) and Zooveniers (multiple movements depicting specific zoo animals) add a fun programmatic twist to developing band music.

His creative contemporary writing and consistency resulted in our selecting 6 (that’s right, 6!) of his new titles for promotion: Angelic Celebrations, Christmas at the Circus, Darklands March, IronHeart, Ruckus, and The Witching Hour, and both Angelic Celebrations and The Witching Hour are on the 2015 Ohio High School Class C concert band list.

Mr. Standridge received both his Bachelor’s of Music Education and Master’s in Music Composition degrees from Arkansas State University and was Director of Bands at Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, Arkansas from 2001-2013. In 2013 he left his band post to pursue a career as a full-time composer and marching band editor for Grand Mesa Music Publishers. His works are published by Grand Mesa, Alfred, FJH, Wingert-Jones, Band Works Publications, Twin Towers Publications, and Northeastern, and he is a contributing composer to Alfred’s Sound Innovations: Ensemble Development series. In addition to his career as a composer, Mr. Standridge is active as a clinician, and in demand as a marching band arranger, drill designer, and colorguard designer.

For more information about Randall Standridge and his music, visit his website and our Featured Composer category on Stanton’s Listening Library.

Stanton’s Recommends: Adrenaline Engines, Angelic Celebrations, Christmas at the Circus, The Rowan Tree, The Witching Hour

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


Stanton’s E-Tools: Wishlists 05 September, 2014

wishlistThe amazing staff at Stanton’s knows how valuable your time is.  That’s why we try to provide you with as many tools as we can to make choosing music easier,  faster and more enjoyable.  In this series of blog posts, we will be profiling our E-tools. Whether you are a local customer here in Columbus, OH or one of our many friends around the world, we hope you will find a way to use our E-tools!

Overheard often at Stanton’s-

  • “I did this piece in high school.  I loved it!!!   It  made my whole year in band/choir/orchestra. I’d love to do it with my kids, but they’re just not ready yet.  Sigh.  Maybe in a few years.”
  • “There’s so many great new pieces out this year.  I can’t do them all this fall, but maybe this spring.”
  • “This would be perfect for a theme concert about ___________.  I’ll have to keep it in mind for the future.”
  • “I listened to all those pieces on all those CD’s from the publishers, but now I can’t remember what I liked!”

All of the above are great reasons to use the Wish List feature on the Stanton’s website.  As musicians, we are always on the lookout for new pieces that will inspire us as well as invigorate and educate our students.  The  Wish List feature allows you to keep track of pieces you like, and organize them any way you want (by concert program, theme/style, performance year, etc).  You can also email your list(s) to friends or colleagues, export it to a Microsoft Excel file for your own records, or  submit it directly to your treasurer as a requisition for a purchase order!

If you have questions about how to use the Stanton’s Wishlist, or  if  you need further information on any of our e-tools, feel free to call us at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at greatservice@stantons.com.

Previous posts in this series:  Listening LibraryStanton’s App, Digital Delivery, Virtual Workshop, Jukebox


Stanton’s E-Tools: Jukebox 29 August, 2014

website Jukebox image for promoThe amazing staff at Stanton’s knows how valuable your time is.  That’s why we try to provide you with as many tools as we can to make choosing music easier,  faster and more enjoyable.  In this series of blog posts, we will be profiling our E-tools. Whether you are a local customer here in Columbus, OH or one of our many friends around the world, we hope you will find a way to use our E-tools!

As an extension of our Listening Library, we are proud to offer Stanton’s Jukebox Stanton’s Jukebox is a specialized “wish list” where you can add sound samples from our Listening Library, then use it to:

  • Research your music purchases by building a playlist for all the titles you are considering, and then easily compare “apples to apples” as you listen.
  • Arrange your concert program by listening to full-length pieces in order, then rearranging as needed to allow for a variety in tempi and styles.
  • Build specific playlists for each of your different ensembles to assist you with your rehearsal planning and score study.
  • Generate a personalized URL for each playlist that can be emailed to your ensemble to enhance at-home practice – you can even add custom practice/rehearsal notes to appear with each playlist.
  • Forward your playlist to your school administrator or Booster/PTA president when you need to solicit funding for specific music.
  • Design separate playlists for different genres or eras of music for your Music History or Music Appreciation students to use during class or with homework.
  • Create a list of your favorite works for your personal listening pleasure in your home or office, and let it inspire you to continue strengthening your ensembles!

If you have questions about how to use the Stanton’s Jukebox feature, we also have a quick video tutorial that you can watch, as well as a list of “Frequently Asked Questions.”  As always, if  you need further information, feel free to call us at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at greatservice@stantons.com.

Previous posts in this series:  Listening LibraryStanton’s App, Digital Delivery, Virtual Workshop


Stanton’s E-Tools: Virtual Workshop 22 August, 2014

virtual workshop image for promosThe amazing staff at Stanton’s knows how valuable your time is.  That’s why we try to provide you with as many tools as we can to make choosing music easier,  faster and more enjoyable.  In this series of blog posts, we will be profiling our E-tools. Whether you are a local customer here in Columbus, OH or one of our many friends around the world, we hope you will find a way to use our E-tools!

If you’ve never attended one of our workshops or reading sessions, you really are missing out.  We have tons of fun, read new music, and benefit from the advice and experience of internationally renowned clinicians as well as Stanton’s own knowledgeable staff.  But if you live too far away to attend, or just can’t make it, we are proud to present our Virtual Workshops.

Inside each Virtual Workshop you’ll preview the score of actual arrangements with audio demonstrations, and often LIVE video footage of our workshops.  The Virtual Workshops themselves are designed so you can easily preview Stanton’s top choices as featured on our clinics, workshops and promotions – it’s almost like being there!

Here is a sampling of just a few of our most recent clinics:

For questions about how to use the Virtual Workshops, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or visit us online or in person!

Previous posts in this series:  Listening LibraryStanton’s App, Digital Delivery


Stanton’s E-Tools: Digital Delivery 15 August, 2014

digital deliveryThe amazing staff at Stanton’s knows how valuable your time is.  That’s why we try to provide you with as many tools as we can to make choosing music easier, faster and more enjoyable.  In this series of blog posts, we will be profiling our E-tools. Whether you are a local customer here in Columbus, OH or one of our many friends around the world, we hope you will find a way to use our E-tools!

It’s happened to all of us:  You have a rehearsal or a performance coming up in a few days (or a few hours!) and you’ve lost your music;  it’s they day before a competition, and your judges’ copies are no where to be found; you desperately need something new and fresh for your church choir to start on tonight.   In many cases, Stanton’s Digital Delivery can come to your rescue.

Using the Digital Delivery website, you can purchase thousands of titles and print them at home on your home computer within minutes.  In addition, many popular sheets (including pop, broadway, etc.) can be transposed to the key of your choosing, so you’ll always be able to have piece in a comfortable range for you.  Lead lines can also be transposed for instruments such as trumpet, clarinet, saxophone and French horn.  All you have to do is download the FREE Scorch Viewer software and you are off and running.

You access our Digital Delivery site directly by clicking here, where you can browse options for bands, orchestradigital delivery printers, choirs, and solos for many different instruments.  You can also use the regular Stanton’s website, where titles available for Digital Delivery have a printer icon next to their descriptions.  Clicking on that icon will take you directly to that item’s page on the Digital Delivery website, where you can purchase and print.

For questions about how to use the Stanton’s Digital Delivery Site, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or visit us online or in person!

Previous posts in this series:  Listening LibraryStanton’s App


Behind the Scenes: Picking Band Promotions 13 August, 2014

Ever wonder how Stanton’s picks the titles that are in our promotions? In short, members of our staff listen to, review, and in the case of our piano department, play through, almost every new title! With yesterday’s announcement of our Top Choices for Young Band, we’re using our first Behind the Scenes feature to see how our band department picks the best new concert band arrangements each year.

Three of our five band & orchestra staff, Kent, Ken, and Kris, take the time to listen to all of the new concert band recordings from beginning to end. As you can see in the breakdown below, we evaluated 550 new pieces from grade 0.5-5 from 13 different publishers this year. Yes, this is a long and daunting task. Since there is so much music to get through, we’ve gone from listening independently at the store to working off-site at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library so we can work uninterrupted. Even without the day-to-day store tasks, it took about 7 or 8 full work days to get through everything.

We listen to one publisher at a time, and move from the easiest titles to the hardest – it’s hard to gauge the quality of any grade 0.5 title after listening to grade 4! While we listen we all score each piece on a scale of 1-10 with a 10 being exceptional. Having three of us score each piece helps to limit biases and no one person’s opinion determines a title’s fate. After all of the publishers are completed, our scores are entered into a spreadsheet, and averaged to determine what we want to promote and recommend. The top 40-45 average scoring titles for both young band (gr. 0.5-2.5) and high school (gr. 3-5) form the basis of each promotion, then we review each preliminary list and adjust it for an appropriate number of titles at each difficulty, and a sufficient selection of marches and Christmas titles.

Capture

Like we said, the days can get long…

Once all of the titles have been chosen, new descriptions are written for each title. We prefer to provide our own write-ups since publisher descriptions range from pure fluff to extensive programmatic descriptions. Rarely do any of them provide information about the musical skill required or teaching opportunities presented. After the new write-ups are completed and any other items added that we want to feature, the layout is created by Dan, our orchestra specialist. The final promotions then get sent to the printer, and mailed to you!

We really hope you find our suggestions useful, and that we save you time when selecting music for your bands. Keep an eye out for our Top Choices for High School Band coming soon!

Of Interest:
- You’d be surprised at how often our scores are the same or within a point or 2 of each other; we definitely hear a lot of the same things in spite of age, experience, personal musical tastes, etc.
– Yes, we get to listen to music all day during this process, but it gets to be exhausting
– The large publishers produce so many new titles that they each require a full day to get through their whole promotion! Aren’t you glad you can listen to specific grade levels?
– Our favorite publishers to listen to: FJH, Grand Mesa, Daehn Publications

By the Numbers:
# Publishers = 13
Total New Band Pieces = 550*
*excludes repromoted (old) titles & flexible instrumentation series

Difficulty                                                         # New Titles    # Promoted
Beginning Band (gr. 0.5-1)                              99                    11
Junior High/Middle School (gr. 1.5-2.5)           210                  34
High School/College (gr. 3-5)                          241                  40-45


The Best New Music for Young Band 2014-15 12 August, 2014

MS Promo CoverEven though it’s still only August (and who couldn’t use a little more summer?), the school year is already upon us – a few school districts have even started! To help with your planning for elementary and middle school band, the Stanton’s band staff is excited to share our choices as the Best New Music for Young Band for 2014-15!

The pieces featured are grades 0.5-2.5, and include marches, Christmas & winter concert selections, and a few really good pop titles. We’re also highlighting music from Frozen just to let you know what’s available – be sure to check out Do You Want to Build a Snowman? as a fun and different winter concert option! As always, the descriptions are our own – we want to make sure you have the most useful (and occasionally witty) information about the pieces to help with both teaching and programming. Also, keep reading our blog for our first Behind the Scenes feature about how we pick our band promotions!

Enjoy!