News & Views Friday, November 28, 2014

Category: Music Education

Folksong Stories by John Feierabend 25 November, 2014

tailor and the mouse crabfish

Folksong Stories

by John Feierabend

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Music Specialist

We often get requests from elementary teachers who need materials that help them promote reading and literacy in their lessons.  John Feirabend, a leading specialist in early childhood music education, is also an ardent advocate of preserving America’s folk heritage.  He has created 10 beautifully illustrated children’s books based on well-known song stories and folk songs.  GIA, the publisher of these books, has made recordings of all the songs available as free downloads on their website.  If your current budget is tight, consider recommending these to your school librarian, classroom teachers, or parent teacher association, who can make them available to both you and your students!

The Crabfish     G-6535……………………………………………………………………………………….$16.95

The Derby Ram     G-7690………………………………………………………………………………….$16.95

Father Grumble     G-7416………………………………………………………………………………….$16.95

The Frog and the Mouse     G-7844…………………………………………………………………….$16.95

My Aunt Came Back     G-7178……………………………………………………………………………$16.95

The Other Day I Met a Bear     G-8585……………………………………………………………….$16.95

Risseldy, Rosseldy     G-8121………………………………………………………………………………$16.95

The Tailor and the Mouse     G-8122…………………………………………………………………..$16.95

There Was a Man and He Was Mad     G-7179…………………………………………………….$16.95

There’s a Hole in the Bucket     G-8454……………………………………………………………….$16.95

More suggestions for early childhood, literacy in music class, and other general music materials are available by calling 1-800-42-MUSIC ex. 1.  We’d also love to see you in the store!  We are open 9-5 Mon.-Fri. and 9-4 on Saturdays.

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: 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

Midwest-Clinic-Masthead

 

 

 

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!


New from Broadway Jr. and Getting To Know 18 November, 2014

broadway jr

logoG2KOur friends at Hal Leonard, MTI, and Rogers & Hammerstein Inc. have some great new choices for you in their “Broadway Junior” and “Getting To Know”  series.  Purchasing the performance pack listed for each show includes everything you need to produce it and grants you the rights to perform it as many times as you like with one year.  Take a look at these latest offerings that your students and audience members will love!

getting to know sound of musicGetting to Know “The Sound of Music”by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II

The final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein – The Sound of Music – was destined to become the world’s most beloved musical. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the Captain’s immediate service in their navy. The family’s narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in the theater. The motion picture version remains the most popular movie musical of all time.

Preview Pack (00124211) ………………………………………………………………$15.00

Performance Pack (08754014)………………………………………………………..$650.00

Shrek jrShrek, Jr.by Jeanine Tesori

In a faraway kingdom, the green ogre Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairytale misfits, runaways who’ve been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions. When Shrek sets off with a wise-cracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he’s handed a task – if he rescues feisty Princess Fiona from the Dragon-guarded tower, his swamp will be returned to him. But, a fairy tale wouldn’t be complete without unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Preview Pack (00127656)……………………………………………………………… $10.00

Performance Pack (00127646) ………………………………………………………. $645.00

hairsprayjr. jpgHairspray Jr.Marc Shaiman

It’s 1962, and spunky plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad has one big dream — to dance on the popular Corny Collins Show. When she finally gets her shot, she’s transformed from social outcast to sudden star. In balancing her new-found power with her desire for justice, Tracy fights to dethrone the reigning Miss Teen Hairspray, Amber von Tussle, and integrate a TV network in the process. With the help of her outsized mom, Edna, and guest DJ Motormouth Maybelle, the rhythm of Tracy’s new beat just might prove unstoppable.

Preview Pack (00123343)………………………………………………………………..$10.00

Performance Pack (099717310)……………………………………………………….$645.00

 

If you’ve never worked with a Broadway Jr. show before, click here to read our previous post on the “how to’s,”  and here for some alternatives if you aren’t ready for a production that’s quite this big.  Questions?  Give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC, and we’ll be happy to assist you!

 


Combo Concerts: Mixed Groups/Children’s Choir 14 November, 2014

The concert schedule for 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!).

Combo Concerts: Mixed Choir with Elementary Choir

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

Recruiting, like it or not, is part of the music teacher’s job.  Not only do lots of ensemble members ensure that you will have a choir (and a job,) it brings the music community just a little closer to our goal of making music education a part of every student’s academic career.  When you invite your elementary choir to be a part of a concert with your secondary students, you can show them a glimpse of what the0. choral music experience can give them as they become more mature musicians.  Just as importantly, it shows the parents of those students what they will be able to do in a few years if they continue their musical education.  Make your elementary students feel special by billing them as “Special Guest Artists” on your program, flyers and other communications.  Prior to the concert, pair them up with a high school student for a side-by-side rehearsal.  Elementary students will be in awe of the older kids, and you high schoolers will love being mentors for a day!

grow little treeGrow Little Tree - by Andrea Ramsey  2 Part  SBMP1170

Perfect for graduation or anytime of the year, this unique arrangement is tailor-made for children’s choir, but subject matter (the potential in each human being,) is appropriate for all ages.  Written for two part treble, it works well with adult women and children, though thoughtful part assignments/re-voicing could allow your men to participate as well.  In this case, it bears remembering that voicing does not always indicate difficulty level.  Give your elementary students plenty of time to learn this sometimes tricky melody, and make sure your older students are rock solid to lend support if needed.

Will you teach meWill You Teach Meby Victor C. Johnson  SATB 15/2682H (available 2 Part, SSA and 3 Part Mixed)

Beautiful melodies are the hallmark of Victor Johnson’s work, and this is an exceptionally fine example.  A terrific piece in defense of arts education without being preachy or obvious, the text talks about teaching our children how to imagine, dream, laugh, cry and even fail.  The oboe part (included in the octavo,) adds greatly to the texture.  Feature your elementary choir in unison on the opening solo, then share the soprano and alto parts with your older members.  If this causes a balance issue, consider using the three part mixed version and having all of your men sing part 3 together.

look at the worldLook at the Worldby John Rutter SATB and/or Children’s Choir  HMC1527

No need to alter parts or make adjustments here, it is all laid out for you.  Although this piece is sacred in nature, the sentiments expressed are nearly universal.  Each of the 4 verses is sung in unison, leaving endless possibilities for featuring different choirs, small groups or soloists.  The chorus is in four part harmony, giving a change of texture for each verse.  An instrumentation is also available (Double woodwind quintet and strings HMC1527A,) so invite some of your school’s orchestra to join you as well.

Let There Be Peace on Eartharr. Hawley Ades  SATB 35012617 (also available TTBB, SAB, SSA, 2 Part, Concert Band and Full Orchestra)

let there be peace on earthThe various voicings available for this piece are intended to be performed together, so grab as many choirs as you can and shout this sentiment from the rooftops!  Secular in nature, this piece is perfect for the holiday season (especially if you aren’t able to do sacred music,) or any time of the year.  The first section features a small group of singers echoing the chorus, which can be done in a multitude of ways.  Feature your children’s choir,  your seniors, or even a group of faculty, alumni or parents.  An oldie but a goodie!

hope for resolutionHope for ResolutionPaul Caldwell and Sean Ivory  SATB w/Children’s Chorus

This powerful work is dedicated to the winners of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela and F.W. DeClerk, leaders who worked together to end apartheid in South Africa.  While it’s format can look intimidating, it is really quite simple to put together.  The first half is a three part canon in English using the classic text “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.” The second half is a fairly simple SATB setting of a South African freedom song in Zulu.  Layered on top of this is a unison part that is the same melody featured in the canon.  Combining the choral singing traditions of Europe and Africa, the composers mirror the work of DeClerk and Mandela.  Voice the round however is easiest for you, then have your children sing the unison part while your older students tackle the SATB.  This is a joyful way to end any concert, and guaranteed to make moms cry!

For more recommendations for children’s choir or combination concerts, 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

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!


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!


New from “Freddie the Frog” 06 November, 2014

Sharon discusses teaching with puppets at Stanton’s 2014 Elementary General Music Clinic

If you teach preschool or early elementary and you’ve never explored the use of a puppet in your classes, it is definitely something to consider.  Students love interacting with a character that “isn’t” their teacher, and they will retain information in a whole new way.  Freddie the Frog is a puppet created by elementary music teacher Sharon Burch.  Freddie has a whole series of teaching materials intended to teach pitch and rhythm literacy, composition, improvisation and a love of music through storytelling.  Click here to see all of Stanton’s Freddie products, or read on for NEW items from Sharon and Freddie.

PrintFreddie the Frog and the Jungle Jazz Sharon Burch & Rosana Eckert

Freddie the Frog®, Eli the Elephant, Babs Baboon and Micki Macaw join trumpet-playing elephants, trombone-sliding tigers, clarinet-playing monkeys and a flock of seagulls as they scat sing, swing and perform collective improvisation in this swingin’ introduction to jazz. The 25-minute musical for 2nd – 5th grade students includes five original songs and dialog with 26 speaking parts, along with unique “beginner band student” adaptations giving students a chance to squawk, buzz and growl on stage as they argue about who’s the best. Sharing their combined talent, the animal friends discover embracing each other’s differences creates the ultimate jungle jam.

Teacher Book (35029504)………………………………………………………….$49.99

P/A CD (35029507)………………………………………………………………….$49.99

Performance Kit (35029508)……………………………………………………..$89.99

freddie the forg and the thump in the night digitalFreddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night (Digital Edition)Sharon Burch

Looking for an easy way to project the Freddie the Frog® books? The well-loved story is now projectable as a digital storybook via your computer’s video player. Open the file, push play and watch! Audio plays while pages turn automatically.  Includes optional Smart Notebook and Promethean/ActivPrimary Flipchart files with step-by-step interactive lessons from the Beyond the Books teacher’s guide. Freddie and Eli cheer students along as digital flashcards, songs and games lead them sequentially through note name fun on Treble Clef Island! (Compatible with SmartNotebook 11 and Promethean ActivInspire 1.7.6 software.)

CD-ROM (35029710)………………………………………………………………………………..$26.99

freddie poster pakFreddie the Frog Poster PackSharon Burch

Freddie and Eli want to “hang” out in your music classroom! This full color set of eight posters includes 3 large posters (18″ x 22″) of Treble Clef Island, a “Welcome to Music” Freddie poster, and Eli and Freddie dancing on the bed to “Music Rocks!” The jazz cats join Freddie and Eli with 5 posters (9” x 12”) from Freddie the Frog® and the Flying Jazz Kitten, playing the trumpet, trombone, piano, drum set and double bass.

Posters (35029752)………………………………………………………………………………….$24.99

Contact Stanton’s Choral/General Music department at 1-800-42-MUSIC ex. 1 for more information on Freddie the Frog or other General Music products!


Monster Mash for Middle School Choir 31 October, 2014

Monster Mash

Words and Music by Greg Gilpin

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

monster mash

Admit it…you smiled a little when you saw the words “Monster Mash!”   This Greg Gilpin choral arrangement of the one hit wonder from Bobby “Borris” Picket and the Crypt-Kickers has great potential for silliness.  The spoken solo we all know so well from the original version steals the show, and the choral parts are a snap to teach, full of ’60’s doo-wop fun.  Consider some of these ideas to use “Monster Mash” in performance or in your classroom:

  • Teach your kids about pop music in the 1950’s and 60’s, especially dances popular with teenagers, like the Mashed Potato and the Twist.  Try out some dance moves as you sing the song, or let small groups work on choreography for a section of the piece.
  • Ask a male teacher or even a principal (who doesn’t mind making a fool of themselves) to be your “surprise guest soloist.”  You can reveal your guest to the choir a few days before the performance when he shows up to rehearse, and then enlist them as your co-conspirators.  Ask the students to keep the identity of the soloist a mystery from their parents, friends, and concert guests-they’ll feel exclusive and you’ll give them a great bonding experience.
  • Split up the spoken solo among your students who want to “ham it up.”  Let them do a quick costume change backstage before they come out for their portion.
  • If you have some students who are into audio sampling, let them come up with your “background track” full of spooky lab sounds.  Better yet, take your whole class to the computer lab and see what they can come up with!

For more novelty number ideas, or great pieces for recruiting, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC.  Shop Stanton’s for all your Spooky Sheet Music needs!

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!


New! Sight-Singing Materials for Your Choir 30 October, 2014

eisenhower-2_DONELet’s be honest, there is no perfect sight-singing resource for everyone.  Educational philosophies, students’ prior music education, ability level and teacher comfort all play a part when you choose your materials.  Here are two new sight-singing  resources that we hope many teachers will find helpful.

 

 

sing at first sight more melodiesSing at First Sight…More Melodies!By Andy Beck and Brian Lewis

Andy Beck’s Sing at First Sight books are used by many choral teachers as their sight-singing “textbook.”  This is a supplemental book that gives more practice for reading rhythms and melodies at all levels, and is useful regardless of whether or not you use Sing at First Sight as your primary text.  An included CD has reproducible PDF files for every page in the book, so you won’t have to spend your whole music budget on new sight-singing materials.  The easiest exercises begin with quarter notes on do and re only, and progress to include all key signatures, compound meter, and rhythms including dotted 8th/16th notes.

Book w/ CD (42793)……………………………………………………….$39.99

 

SOS.jpgSOS: Simplify Our Sight-Reading – By Laura Farnell & Mary Jane Phillips

Acclaimed choral composer and educator Laura Farnell has partnered with Mary Jane Phillips to create a new system for teaching sight singing.  SOS (Simplifying Our Sight Reading,) is based on the premise that students will comprehend sight singing better if they are exposed to one element at a time.  The authors separate pitch, rhythm, and notation before moving on to unison, 2 part and 3 part melodies.  An excellent supplement to the directors resource are the flash cards for both Bass and Treble Clef.  Large enough to be read by the entire choir at once, each shows one measure and can be combined with the other cards for a nearly endless number of exercises.

 

Director’s Resource (BLB009)…………………………………………………………….$9.99
Rhythm Reader (BL836)……………………………………………………………………$1.95
Flash Cards for Treble Clef (BLB010)……………………………………………………$19.99                                                                   Flash Cards for Bass Clef (BLB011)……………………………………………………….$19.99

For more recommendations of sight reading materials, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC, check out our website, or visit us to browse in our store.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Choral Collections-Reproducible Budget-Stretchers 29 October, 2014

money_signTight budgets are a universal problem amongst teachers in general, and music teachers in particular.  Stanton’s understands that you might not always have the money to purchase new octavos, so consider one of these NEW budget-stretching collections for your group!  All are fully reproducible, so you can make as many copies as you need for your students without infringing on copyright law.  In addition, all include an accompaniment CD, making them concert ready and easy to rehearse.

 

multiple voicings,jpgMultiple Voicings for Middle School Voices - compiled by Mary Lynn Lightfoot  SAB, Three Part Mixed, SSA, TB and 2 Part.
This reproducible book is both a unique value and a great resource for quality repertoire for developing voices! Included in this collection are 2-3 different selections for each of the following voicings: SAB, 3-Part Mixed, SSA, TB and 2-Part. Reproducible PDFs are included on the supporting CD, along with the accompaniment tracks for each title.
Collection w/CD (30/3139H)…………………………………………………………….. $44.95

 

let the women singLet the Women Sing!by Greg Gilpin SSA

Let the Women Sing! is a new reproducible collection of chorals for soprano and alto voices.  Folk songs, holiday music, spirituals, inspirational songs, and patriotic themes fill this nine-song collection. This economical kit includes an enhanced CD-ROM with accompaniment and performance tracks, information about the composer, as well as reproducible vocal parts and instrument pages. Whether you have 10 or 100 female singers, this must-have collection will keep you on budget while supplying your program with excellent choral literature for your young female singers for many years to come.

Collection w/ CD (35029097)………………………………………………………………………………..$49.99

Also available:

Let the Men Sing! by Greg Gilpin (TTB)

Collection w/ CD (35012576)………………………………………………………………………………..$49.99

Just for the Gals compiled by Larry Pugh (SSA)

Collection w/ CD (30/2717H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

Just for the Guys compiled by Larry Pugh (TB)

Collection w/ CD (30/2590H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

Just for the Guys at Christmas compiled by Larry Pugh (TB)

Collection w/ CD (30/2850H)………………………………………………………………………………..$44.95

For more information on these collections or other choral collections, please give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.

 


The Stanton’s Difference: Creative Help 27 October, 2014

At Stanton’s, we know you have many choices when it comes to purchasing sheet music.  Over the course of June and July, we highlighted a few of the many reasons why Stanton’s is the best place to buy music for your school, church, private studio or personal use, and we’d like to add one more reason to your list.

Sometimes customer needs and requests require some lateral thought and creativity. A local choral director was in the store this fall, and ventured over to The Dark Side (read: Band Department) because our band department handles our music theory books and software. “I have a Theory 2 student. She’s a flute player, and we’re looking to study the classical period and composition. Do you have anything?”   Each of her Theory 2 students is doing an individual study on specific areas of interest to them.

Our first thought was, “We don’t have anything that is specific to the classical period. No specific theory books, no analysis, and only a page or two of history in the Kjos Music Theory & History Workbooks.” The next thought was, “What DO we have? Is there anything that could work?”

“I’ve got it – Flute player + Classical Period = the Mozart Flute Concerti! Both are on the Ohio Class A flute list, so she could use one of them for her theory class, AND private study/OMEA adjudication. She would have the added benefit of having studied and analyzed the work while she learns and performs it!”

Wait a minute – composition and analysis…Dover has a score of all of the Mozart Concerti for Wind Instruments, and their scores are very reasonably priced. Now we’re talking – both flute concerti should be in there along with the concerti for bassoon, clarinet, and horn.

“What about using the Dover score for study and analysis? She could see the original orchestration, how the flute part works in context with the orchestra, and study how the original orchestration was translated into the piano reduction for the solo edition. This is perfect!”

Needless to say, this could not have worked out better for our customer, and her student. Can your sheet music supplier provide this depth of thought and expertise? More importantly, will they take the time? If not, give Stanton’s a try. We’re more than a store or website; we’re an experienced, knowledgeable, and thoughtful staff that has made Stanton’s the “Sheet Music Specialists” for over 50 years!

Previous posts in this series: 10% Educational Discount, Knowledgeable Staff, 21 Day Trial, For New Teachers, Setting Up Accounts, Make It a Road Trip!, Going the Extra Mile, Big Enough to Serve Your Needs/Small Enough to Serve You


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on Elementary Choir 24 October, 2014

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers.  We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles.  In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

Welcome Winter on This Night

Words and Music by Greg Gilpin

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

Teaching students to sing “in parts” is an important part of their musical development.  One of the easiest ways to introduce part singing to young students is the quodlibet, also known as a partner song.  In this selection, Gilpin begins with his own (English) text to J.S. Bach’s Bist Du Bei Mir.  After a short piano interlude, the second melody is introduced, this time an original composition.  Finally, the melodies are sung at the same time, creating the partner song.

While all partner songs can serve the purpose of learning to sing in parts, this one is especially good for some other reasons.  First, the range (C4 to F5) is very healthy for young singers.  The tessitura remains high enough that it encourages the use of head voice at all times, allowing your students to sing where they sound best.  In addition to range, the melody of Bist Due Bei Mir is excellent for working on the difference between steps, skips and leaps.  It has just enough leaps that it will challenge your singers to be accurate and not “scoop” or “slide”  to achieve larger welcome winter on this nightintervals.

This might be a great piece for your group because it…

  • is a great beginner two part piece
  • gives students a chance to experience the music of a great composer (J.S. Bach)
  • provides opportunities for interval work
  • teaches part singing
  • offers holiday/winter imagery without being  associated with a particular sacred holiday

For more great suggestions, please contact our choral department by phone at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.

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!


Stanton’s Spotlight – String Riffs 22 October, 2014

String Riffs

Recommended by Dan Clark, Orchestral Music Specialist

string riffs vol. 1String Riffs is written by Karen Koger (a former Stanton’s employee!) who earned her bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University and her master’s degree in cello performance pedagogy from Arizona State University.  As a lifelong musician, she taught private cello lessons for more than two decades and now works with 4th, 5th and 6th grade strings in the Mesa Public Schools (AZ.)  A member of ASTA, she is also an active performer in the Phoenix area.
String Riffs is divided into three progressive volumes of teaching pieces, from very easy to intermediate, complete with concept mapping lesson plans.  They work from unison lines to full harmony and along with the basic lesson for each piece, there are optional challenging parts for those students who need a challenge.  As teaching pieces, they can certainly work in the classroom, but can also be used for concerts.  Tuneful and fun as well as instructive, they have very creative titles that pique students’ imaginations.  Many pieces have a Southwestern flavor that contributes Native American and Hispanic multicultural elements.

  • Score and a CD with digital files of the parts.  Make as many parts as you need – on your honor!
  • Concept Maps – built-in lesson plans for each piece
  • Rhythm Charts – each volume adds more complex rhythmic combinations
  • Alignment with National Core Standards
  • Segmented and Multi-level pieces for teacher assignment and/or student choice
  • Wide range of musical styles so everything doesn’t sound the same
  • Substantial cello and bass parts in the advanced volumes so lower strings don’t feel left out
  • String Libs – fun, fill-in-the-blank ( a la Mad Libs) scary, stringy stories, written by Ms. Koger’s students

Volume 1 – HME2001 – Grade 1 – $49.95
Volume 2 – HME2002 – Grade 1.5 – $49.95
Volume 3 – HME2003 – Grade 2 – $49.95

String Riffs is a refreshing, new approach to young string pedagogy.  Stanton’s featured them at their New Music Reading Session in July, 2014 and nearly sold out of our first shipment.  If you work with strings in 4th, 5th and 6th grade, these are excellent resources with which to supplement your class method book.

Dan Clark has worked at Stanton’s since 1979, primarily with orchestra music and print promotions.  A “working” musician, he’s a classical cellist, a rock & jazz bassist and a folk & country guitarist/singer. His free time is spent with family or reading, gardening, cycling and working puzzles. He also has a reputation as a pretty good joke teller. Seriously.

 


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.


Combo Concerts: Women 10 October, 2014

The concert schedule for 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!).

Combo Concerts: Women

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

While putting on a concert that combines your male singers of all ages can be a bit of a challenge, doing the same with all of your women couldn’t be easier!  The women from your high school, middle school, and even upper elementary groups will have the same range and be able to sing 2, 3, or 4 part treble music.  Focus on choosing pieces with a message that will resonate with girls in a wide age range and text/subject matter that is appropriate for all.

symphony of nightThe Symphony Of Night - by Mark Patterson  2 Part  BL799

For a simple two part arrangement, you can’t beat the beauty of The Symphony of Night.  Mark Patterson writes his own text to the  beautiful Swedish folk song “Bred Dina Vida Vingar” and the result is a subtle, enchanting melody set with a text appropriate for any age group.  While it is not seasonal, the references to the darkness of night make this especially appropriate in the winter.  The supportive piano accompaniment adds to the texture while staying out of the way of your singers.

 

one tin soldierOne Tin Soldierarr. Kirby Shaw  2 Part 08666128

This piece comes from the folk rock tradition of the 1960’s and 70’s and the anti-war sentiments that were such a part of the music of that era.   The strophic form allows you to feature one group at a time or even some soloists during the verses and then have everyone sing the chorus.  One Tin Soldier is in a great range to let those light, healthy middle school voices soar, and sends an important message to singers of all ages.

all the pretty little horsesAll the Pretty Little Horsesarr. Andy Beck SSA 39848

Lullabies seem to be standard fare for women’s chorus, but we promise that this one is truly unique.  Andy Beck has taken this classic American folksong and spun it into a jazz waltz that makes it feel fresh and modern.  The harmonies are easy enough that less experienced singers won’t be intimidated, but mature enough to hold everyone’s interest.  A jazz flute and vibe part, available as free downloads here, really add to the texture and feel of this unique arrangement.  Who says women’s chorus can’t be cool too?

 

Pure Imaginationarr. Jay Althouse  SSA  37984

pure imaginationSince you’ve already committed to a concert combining your women’s groups (or at least one piece on a concert), why not go the extra step and ask for some of the adults in the community to join in as well?  Contact your local community chorus, church choir(s), alumni or even the parents of your students.  There is something incredibly powerful about women, young adults and children singing together, and this easy-to-learn arrangement will be perfect if you only have a rehearsal or two to put it together.  Whether they remember Willy Wonka from the Ronald Dahl books (1964), the Gene Wilder movie (1971) or the Johnny Depp remake (2005), your women will love Pure Imagination.

 

Msilale Wmsilale wanawakeanawake Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory  SSA w/ Descant  00123692

Sometimes music education is about life lessons.  Msilale Wanawake (Women, Wake Up!) is an inspiring piece based on a Kenyan proverb.  Perfect for multi-grade level and multi-generational ensembles, this specifically addresses female students, encouraging women to stand up and “rid themselves of societal shackles, to walk away from servitude, gender bias and oppression.”  If you are nervous about younger groups singing a piece this complex, assign your middle school and/or elementary students the descant part (present for 3/4 of the piece), and leave your more advanced students to the other three parts.   A great kick-starter to discussion about women’s lives around the world.

It is possible to do a program for women’s chorus that doesn’t have a single piece about flowers, clouds, stars or boyfriends.    For more recommendations for women’s groups or combination concerts, 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

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!


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.