News & Views Sunday, October 26, 2014

Category: Music Education

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.


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on Elementary Choir 24 September, 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.

Ribbons in the Sky

Words and Music by Andy Beck

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

stanton's spotlight ribbons in the skyElementary students love to move to the music.  Whether it is in your general music class or in your elementary choir, “Ribbons in the Sky” is a beautiful selection for your elementary chorus that allows you to incorporate movement in a way that serves the musical concepts it teaches.  The piece has a simple melody with a small range (B3 to D5,) and is accompanied by a recorder and piano.  While it is a 2 part piece, the harmonies consist of echo patterns and a short (repeated) section where the homophonic parts are in contrary motion.

The composer suggests that you give each child a colored ribbon or scarf that corresponds with one of the colors mentioned in the text.  There are a multitude of ways that you can use these manipulatives to help your students.  Try having the students move the scarves slowly overhead during the length of a phrase.  This shows both the shape and duration of the phrase.   Students may also enjoy creating some of their own choreography to the piece.  Listen to a recording with your students and discuss appropriate types of motions, then let them create their own in small groups.  You might be amazed at what they come up with!

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

  • is a great beginner two part piece
  • gives students a chance to experience singing with an instrument
  • provides opportunities for Dalcroze-style music teaching
  • teaches slow, lyrical singing
  • offers the chance for creative choreography that is different from run-of-the-mill “choralography”

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


Combo Concerts: Men 12 September, 2014

men and boys choirsThe 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: Men

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist

One of the most common complaints we hear from choral directors is “I just don’t have enough boys!”  Well, we say feature the boys you do have-if you build it, they will come!  Even though it can be difficult from a logistical standpoint, combining the male members of your choirs from all levels into one group and can have big dividends.  The younger boys will look up to your high school men, and your older men will be gratified that you trust them enough to be examples for your younger students.  Below, we suggest a few pieces that would be great for boys of all levels to perform together. While these are all in men’s voicings, many have high Tenor or Tenor I parts that can be sung by your youngest guys, even those with unchanged voices.

brooklyn's hereBrooklyn’s Here - arr. Mac Huff  TB 00123858

Music from Disney’s Broadway smash hit “Newsies” is the perfect vehicle for making your men feel good about singing.  The character’s in the show are boys in the same age range as your guys, and the historical context gives many teaching opportunities.  The catchy melody of “Brooklyn’s Here” is in an easy 2 part arrangement, great for groups of all sizes.  When the tenor part does run low, it almost always double in the bass part, or can be easily taken up the octave for your youngest singers.  The “all for one and one for all” attitude creates a great bonding experience.

baba yetu smallBaba YetuChristopher Tin/arr. Derek Machan TTBB 42801

For a large group of guys, you can’t go wrong with Baba Yetu.  This Swahili adaptation of “The Lord’s Prayer” from the video game Civilization IV  has an inspiring African feel and haunting melody that will hook your men on the first page.  Plenty of solo opportunities mean that you can feature a great soloist or various groups of men.  Consider adding ethnic percussion to create a powerful experience your student’s won’t soon forget.

manly men smallManly Men (Men’s Chorus Extravaganza)Kurt Knecht TTBB a cap. 08501442

Sometimes it’s OK to laugh at ourselves just a little.  Poking fun at the men’s chorus tradition and the stereotypes associated with male singers (egotistical tenors vs. super baritone vibrato!) this number is sure to get a giggle (or even a guffaw!)  out of your audiences.  Consider this if you combine men from several high school and/or adult community choirs.

vagabond smallThe VagabondMark Patterson  TTB or TBB  BL821

Mark Patterson’s original solo arrangement of this tune (found in the solo collection “Heroes and Vagabonds”) has been a popular choice for years.  This new arrangement for 3 part men captures the feeling of the original solo with a nod to the Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the same name.  The opening solo could easily be moved up the octave, giving an opportunity to showcase your young unchanged voices in their best range.

i am that man smallI Am That ManMark Hayes TTBB 31330

Sometimes music education is about life lessons.  I Am That Man is an inspiring piece based on President Barack Obama’s first inaugural address.  Perfect for multi-grade level and multi-generational ensembles, this specifically addresses male students, asking them to be leaders in their community “not by might or power, but with gentleness of heart, with courage and compassion.”  This thought-provoking discussion starter will send a great message to your students and your audience.

 

There you have it folks…5 great pieces for men’s choir, and not a pirate, sailor, knight or lost girlfriend in sight!  For more recommendations for men’s groups or combination concerts, give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.


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 SPOTLIGHT on Middle School Choir 27 August, 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.

Jambo

Harris/arr. Narverud

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialistspotlight template-Jambo-page-001

Many choral directors struggle with trying to be all inclusive with their repertoire choices.  Sometimes an easy solution to this problem is to choose a piece that falls into more than one category.  Jambo is a piece of classic pop music from Kenyan musician Teddy Kalanda Harrison.  His group “Them Mushrooms” took the song platinum in 1982.  However, since his music is heavily influenced by the folk traditions of Kenya, this translates well into an a capella selection  for your young singers.  That’s right – it’s multi-cultural a capella pop!

Don’t be scared off by the unfamiliar-the piece has easy harmonies that are comfortable to sing, and a range of only E3-C4 for your men.  While your ladies might prefer to sing higher than what they do here (the soprano part goes only to C#5,)  invite your students to dive into this choral tradition by writing a descant and sing that chorus one more time!

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

  • allows you to study the music of a different culture/choral tradition
  • gives students a chance experience singing with ethnic percussion
  • provides opportunities for solos/small groups (These are notated in bass clef, but could be sung by any voice part.)
  • offers the chance for a three-part group to sing a capella
  • showcases sudden dynamic shifts to add interest and drama.

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


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!


Stanton’s E-Tools: The Stanton’s App 08 August, 2014

smart phonesThe 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!

stanton's bar code scanner

 

Stanton’s has an app? 

That’s right, just like everyone else these days, Stanton’s Sheet Music has an app.  It’s called the Stanton’s Bar Code Scanner, and it is available for both Android and iPhone.   Even better, it’s free!

What does the app do?

Our simple-to-use app is just what it sounds like.  It helps you to use your phone or tablet’s  camera to scan bar codes on music.  Once you scan, you are taken automatically to the item’s page in our Listening Library.  Within seconds, you can be listening to the sample recording of the piece that you are holding in your hand!  If there is no sample recording of the piece provided by the publisher, you will still be guided to that item’s entry on our website where you will find a description, price, catalog number and other useful information.

How can I make the app work for me?

  • When you are shopping for music in our store, bring your headphones!  As you pull music off the shelf you can scan and listen immediately.
  • Going through your own music library?  Scan the titles you already own to refresh your memory or see if the item is still available to order.
  • When  you send your students or church choir members home with a folder full of new music, have them download the app as well.  They can listen, look, and have a valuable listening example at their fingertips!

For questions about how to use the Stanton’s Bar Code Scanner, 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 Library


Stanton’s E-tools: Listening Library 01 August, 2014

Stanton's Listening LibraryThe 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!

What is the Listening Library?

When you are searching for new music that fits your group, sometimes looking at or even playing through a score is not enough.  Music is meant to be heard, not just seen.  That is why we have recordings of almost 70, 000 titles available in the Listening Library.  The Library files are in an easy-to-use MP3 format and are created from “promotional recordings” produced by the publishers. When possible, Stanton’s uses the full recording, but due to the fact that some tracks were only made available as “publisher promotional copies” some of the tracks may be excerpted.   We are constantly adding to our library, so check back often for updates.

How do I know if Stanton’s has a recording of the piece I’m looking for?

When browsing or searching our website, you will see the “globe with headphones”  icon (pictured above) next to any item that has a recording available.  Clicking on that icon will take you to a recording of that piece.  Having trouble hearing?  Check to make sure that your speakers are turned up and not set to mute, or that your headphones are plugged in.

Can I access the Listening Library from my smart phone or tablet?

Absolutely!  The Stanton’s mobile website is compatible with all tablets and smart phones.  Just touch that “globe with headphones” icon to get started.  If you download our mobile app (more about the app in a future post,) you can even use the tablet or phone’s camera to scan the bar code on a piece of music, and you will be immediately directed to that item’s recording.  It makes shopping for music (or browsing your own music library) a breeze!

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

 

 


Band Directors Teaching Choir-SAB or SATB? 29 July, 2014

Here at Stanton’s12VBF_ConspirareHandel, we’re aware of the rising number of music teachers working outside of their specialty.  Cutbacks have forced many instrumental specialists to begin teaching choir-but never fear!  In this series, we will try to give some advice on where to start, as well as recommending some “tried and true” products that will help you become a great choral educator!

SATB is the standard voicing for high school mixed choirs and SAB/3-Part Mixed arrangements have the same designation at the middle school level.  However,  a teacher’s world is rarely perfect.  There are many reasons why you might have a need to use SAB pieces in a high school or SATB pieces in a middle school.

If one or more of the following apply to your high school singers….

-You have less than half as many men as women; putting the men on the same part will balance the group

-Your male singers are inexperienced enough that  they need the strength in numbers

-You are working on a new concept (language, choreography, etc.) and want to simplify the number of parts

…you may want to try one of these excellent SAB pieces:

Canon of Praise – Pachelbel, arr. Hal Hopson – MW1226

Der Tanz – Schubert, arr. Patrick Liebergen – BL382

Die Nachtigall – Schubert, arr. Russell Robinson – 08501705

Elijah – Dan Davison – 00126742

Praise the Lord – Handel, arr. Hal Hopson – 35017273

Sicut Cervus – Palestrina, arr. Russell Robinson – 31089

If one or more of the following apply to your middle school group…

-The young men in your choir are overpowering the light, healthy sound of your middle school women

-You have enough men that they are able to sing 2 different parts and still balance your women

-You have boys whose voices are changing in different ways; some still comfortable in a cambiata range and some who have temporarily lost their mid-range (from about A below middle C to E above)

-You teach in a junior high instead of middle school and have 7th, 8th and 9th graders in the same group

…you may want to try one of these beginner SATB pieces:

Adoramus Te – Emily Crocker – 08740061

Beachcombers – Amy Bernon – 15/2538H

Bound for Jubilee –  Joyce Eilers – SV7903

Come to Me, O My Love – Allan Petker – HMC997

Going Over Home – Sonja Poorman – BL334

Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name – Dennard Brazeal – 35009892

Song of the Sea – Raymond Hannisian – SV7802

Three Madrigals – Emma Lou Diemer – 48003439

Hope Is Like the Wind – Ruth Elaine Schram – 15/2677H

Remember, voicing does not always indicate difficulty level.  With some sleuthing you can find appropriate pieces for all ages in a variety of voicings.

Still not sure what to choose?  Don’t be shy about asking for help, especially if you are new to the choral world.  As always, the experienced choral directors at Stanton’s are thrilled to help you select materials, make recommendations, or give advice.    Contact us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, extension 1 or visit our store.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Previous posts in this series: Warm-Ups and Rounds; Sight-Singing; SAB or 3 Part Mixed; Help! I’m Not a Pianist!; Solo and Ensemble Pt. 1; Solo and Ensemble Pt. 2