Reading Music: News for Music Educators, May 9 2011

Click the link below to view the online version of your eBook: 

http://www.zinepal.com/ebook/teaching-music/86106

INTRODUCTION

Articles and blog posts from around the web that are part of my daily reading as a music educator.

STORIES IN THIS EBOOK

* Talking About Music….  (elissamilne)
 http://dlvr.it/R8rjV

* Great Performances - Cee Lo Green Thank You Video For Volunteer Firefighters  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/R8Fnn

* Pennsylvania GOP Plan Increases Education Funding  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/R6Yv4

* The Anatomy Of An Effective Music Ensemble Conductor  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/R3SDd

* Fine arts are no fr
ill and deserve funding » Corpus Christi Caller-Times
 http://dlvr.it/R1kpt

* Great Performances - Peter Hollens And The Swingle Singers Poor Wayfaring Stranger  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/QzGjW

* Is It Time to Unplug Our Schools? | Lowell Monke | Orion Magazine
 http://dlvr.it/Qyd4F

* Collaboration is Key for Award-Winning Student Jazz Combos | Being musical. Being human.
 http://dlvr.it/QyHQS

* Steve Jobs On Educational Leadership (Sort Of) - Teaching Music in the 21st Century
 http://dlvr.it/Qxz3P

* Neuqua, Waubonsie again receive Grammys - Chicago Sun-Times
 http://dlvr.it/QvbSp

* The Cutthroat Curriculum
 http://dlvr.it/QvYWM

* Muti's retu
rn to CSO leaves hall abuzz with the excitement of old music and new
 http://dlvr.it/QtQVx

* How Muscle Memory Works and How It Affects Your Success - Lifehacker
 http://dlvr.it/QswWG

* YouTube - mnozil brass slow motion
 http://dlvr.it/Qs8sz

* White House Panel Calls for 'Reinvesting' in Arts Education - Curriculum Matters - Education Week
 http://dlvr.it/Qs8sT

* Call To Action: Save The Music Education Program At Marshalltown Community College  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/QrvwS

* New Chapter in My Life  (Carol Broos)
 http://dlvr.it/QrNhj

* Wind Band Composer Snapshot: David Maslanka  (Kyle Freesen)
 http://dlvr.it/Qn14W

* Quote Of The 20Day: Thurman "Ask Yourself What Makes You Come Alive"  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/Qn14V

* Grouch: some teaching notes from the composer  (elissamilne)
 http://dlvr.it/QmkGq

* Life Lesson #12: The Love of Music  (David Ahrens)
 http://dlvr.it/QmkG3

* ARTSblog » Blog Archive » Unpicking the Equity Knot in Arts <b>Education</b>
 http://dlvr.it/QmXqr

* Grading. Does It Really Make Sense?  (Roger Whaley)
 http://dlvr.it/QkHBD

* Ten reasons why teaching the arts is critical in a 21st century world - Philadelphia, PA, United States,  ASCD EDge Blog post
 http://dlvr.it/QfFyP

* Music Students Embrace The Joy Of The Creative P
rocess  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/Qf9TG

Reading Music: News for Music Educators April 11, 2011

As always, scroll down for pdf, ePub, and Kindle files that you can download.


Thank you for using Zinepal. Click the link below to view the online version of your eBook:

http://www.zinepal.com/ebook/teaching-music/85195

INTRODUCTION

Articles and blog posts from around the web that are part of my daily reading as a music educator.

STORIES IN THIS EBOOK

* Great Performances - Chicago Symphony Orchestra Performs Elgar's Nimrod  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/N9Zpq

* CMEA 11  (Barbara Freedman)
 http://dlvr.it/N7LTb

* Pennsylvania Public School Music Programs In Crisis  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/N4lly

* A Symphony Returns
 http://dlvr.it/N4j0B

* Students Become Immersed in Augmented Reality Games
 http://dlvr.it/N2T9V

* Live Perf
 ormance - A Great Learning Experience For Students  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/Myb48

* DSO contract approved, but pay cuts may not be enough
 http://dlvr.it/My7ng

* Flash Mob Protests Cuts To Music Education - Las Vegas News Story ...
 http://dlvr.it/My7nf

* What Would You Say In Your Own TED Talk?  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/MsvFL

* The Metropolitan Opera for iPad  (Music)
 http://dlvr.it/Mq1GC

* Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2011 Connects Us In Important New Ways  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/Mpp4y

* Voices of the World: Virtual Choir 2.0  (Yoon)
 http://dlvr.it/Mpfzb

* Can’t Make
 It to the PMEA Conference This Year? No Problem!  (dougbutchy)
 http://dlvr.it/Mlhly

* Allentown School District Cuts 250 Jobs In Support Of A New Vision  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/MlSGt

* Arts & Culture: American Right  (Yoon)
 http://dlvr.it/Mksrd

* Spencer's Scratch Pad: 10 Ways to Help Students Ask Better Questions
 http://dlvr.it/MhvjW

* What Comes First: Depression In Teens Or Emo Music? : Shots
 http://dlvr.it/MhvjJ

* Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir will be unveiled Thursday
 http://dlvr.it/Mhj6h

* They've Never Met, But 2,051 Singers Perform Together
 http://dlvr.it/Mhj6W

* Nu? Is This 2nd Ave.? No, It’s
 Lincoln Center
 http://dlvr.it/Mhj6Z

* The 7th International Conference for Research in Music Education ...
 http://dlvr.it/Mhj6f

* Wind Band Composer Snapshot: Ralph Vaughan Williams  (Kyle Freesen)
 http://dlvr.it/MhbZx

* Mr. Spacey Goes To Washington - Defending The Arts From Federal Cuts  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/MhT1p

* Simulating The Concert By Recording Your Ensemble  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/Mf2Px

* A Brief Rant About No Child Left Behind  (Thomas J. West)
 http://dlvr.it/MbWxr



Whatever Happend To Liberal Arts? or... Why Do We Pressure Kids To Specialize So Early?

A guest article by Keith Walker, Band Director at Zeeland High School

So this is the beginning of my favorite time of the year - class sign-ups for next school year have begun.  That special time when the eighth graders get indoctrinated by the powers that be, by their folks, and by society, that NOW is the time to decide on what you are going to do the rest of your life, which college will prepare you the best for that, and what you need to take in high school to achieve those goals.  Then my colleagues and I spend the next several weeks telling them the things we believe, and the poor dears get all confused...

 

But a couple weeks ago we focused my HS Band class discussion more pointedly: how much does what you do in high school actually prepare you for your career?  See, the question came about because one of the best players and coolest kids in the band, currently a junior, is contemplating not being able to take band next year.  Law school is in his future at this point, and there are a couple classes that he feels would better prepare him for this.  And there is really nothing at all wrong with him thinking that; I once wanted to be a lawyer, as most of my students know from my ranting about not owning a BMW by now.  But here were my thoughts on the matter, in no particular order:

 

1.  I know far too many people who are not doing anything close to what they thought they would be doing when they were in high school.  One of the best and brightest stars of the ZHS Performing Arts Dept. in the late 90's is now an attorney at Varnum in GR.  That big glass building that you see as you approach downtown from Holland.  He was in Madrigals, on stage as an actor, and played French horn in Symphonic Band and Tenor Sax in Jazz Band.  Named to the MYAF Jazz Band as Lead Tenor his senior year.  Went to WMU as...  A JAZZ STUDIES MAJOR.  Hardly a pre-law track.  And certainly nothing in high school prepared him for his career.  Or did it?  More on that later.

 

2.  Another amazing musician received a music scholarship to Hope College, where her undergrad studies were pre-med.  She is now a doctor in Cincinnati.  Talks to me frequently about how her med school interviewer talked an awful lot about BAND and MUSIC in her interview.  Not her grades; not her aspirations for medicine.  Her CLARINET.  Even today she gets introduced to folks and they are told about her musical talents.

 

3.  Student #3?  About to graduate from Purdue this spring with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  Literally Rocket Science.  From Purdue, the same place that gave us Neil Armstrong (who, incidentally was a baritone player in the Purdue band).  This kid spent a year in the Purdue marching band and ALL FOUR years in jazz band.  As a non-major.  Which he had to be - you can't major in music at Purdue, yet there are over 1,000 students in the music programs.  How does that work?

 

4.  Last school year I was so amazingly proud to see TEN former students on the field at the Big House when WMU played Michigan.  TEN kids between the two marching bands.  Music majors?  Two.  How on Earth will being in marching band at college help you with your major?

 

And there sits the big question: what exactly is band worth?  I once thought it was a good idea to tell folks how it will help them in Math or English.  Of course, so will taking more Math or English classes.  Or that it was good teamwork experience.  But since there were tons of athletic teams, that bill could be filled elsewhere, too.  Higher test scores?  Study more.  (Or the Mozart Effect was flawed research; take your pick.)

 

So here's the thing: high school, and especially experiences like band, prepares you for LIFE.  Band specifically gives you experiences you can't get anywhere else.  My Symphonic Band is playing Bach's "Fantasia in G Major" for the concert coming up next month.  And they are geeked.  They love this piece.  ("American Overture" they're still not sure about, but that is for another rant.)  You can't get a Bach experience anywhere else.  Performing that music gives you something unreachable in virtually all other areas of life, far more than reading about it or listening to someone else play it.

 

 But we don't worry about that any more.  Nope, now it is all about academics, getting into a good college, and being what you are going to be the rest of your life.  And why?  Competition.  We have to be BETTER than everyone.  Always.  Japan outscores us on everything.  Answer?  More math and science.  We need to raise test scores to prove that Michigan is a great state to live in.  Answer?  More testing, and more four-year requirements.

 

I called Notre Dame last fall.  Asked about a hypothetical kid that maybe didn't have the three years of language required for entry into that fine institution, but had four years of band.  I was told that although no one gets rejected out-of-hand, it was quite likely that the kid with the language classes would beat out the band geek in a dead heat for the last position in the incoming class kind of thing.  Kind of hurt to hear that, truth be told.  

 

Even the Michigan legislature, in all of its infinite wisdom, only requires one year of Visual, Performing, or Applied Arts.  And you can get out of that by adding another year of virtually ANY of the other required classes, i.e. taking a fifth year of science, or adding a foreign language.

 

 And why, really, do we think that turning out kids with more math, science, etc. will prepare them any better for their careers?  Preparing them for careers is not my job.  Preparing them for LIFE is.  How to use their critical thinking skills.  How to work together for a common goal.  How to appreciate the sublime beauty of a passage of Bach, or, for that matter, a passage of Dylan Thomas.  To get them to appreciate art for art's sake, as in, "wow, is THAT a cool painting.  That makes me feel..." and they fill in the blank based on their life experiences.

 

We had a faculty meeting a few years ago in which a certain student was mentioned.  This young man is now married and a graduate of U of M in Engineering of some kind.  We were discussing the fact that this guy should "be able to go to Gentex and shadow an engineer, or go to Herman Miller and see their R & D folks in action" or other similar things that would "help" him become an engineer.  I said, "no way.  He'll be an engineer the rest of his life.  Right now he needs to have PE, Band, a social studies class, or whatever, so he can do things like carry on a conversation or enjoy the things that make him healthy or just be able to be a member of society."  (He was a four-year band kid, by the way.)

 

So am I biased?  Absolutely.  But with good reason.  I hear from folks so often about the great experiences that they have had on the marching field, or that they are now playing a piece in college that they heard or played while in high school, or just that band or similar classes/activities meant so much to their lives.  Facebook has not only afforded me the opportunity to semi-publicly rant on this topic but also to re-connect with former students from my earliest days of teaching.  And more than one of these folks has told me that they were so glad to have the experience that band gave them that they wouldn't trade it for anything.  At least two former students are lawyers.  Several engineers.  A doctor.  Many teachers.  A submariner (graduate of the Naval Academy).  Moms.  Dads.  A mechanic/service station owner.  A pharmacist.  Another who will be a coroner some day.  An orthodontist in the making.  And NONE of those careers were helped by taking band.  But I firmly believe that ALL of their lives were.  Or I wouldn't be doing this.

 

Frank Battisti: Teach Music And You Won't Have To Sell It

This short four minute video is so powerful I'm still reeling. So concise, so profound, and so passionate is the message that I hope you will share it with every music educator you know. It's from a panel discussion at the WASBE conference in 2009. No one is held blameless here...we all have some mirror-checking to do.

Frank, thank you for speaking the truth at a time we need it most. Let's take all the energy we are spending on bucket lists, competition, and empire building and put it into becoming better music teachers and making sure every student receives music education.

 

 

Transcript:

First of all, [in] most school systems, the person who has something to do with music is charged with teaching music....isn't charged with organizing band, isn't charged with organizing [a] contest, or winning trophies...those are activities.

The band program has got to be a music education program. We have got to grow music lovers. Kids who love music! Not band, not activity, music. And it starts with the teacher loving music! You are what you eat. You order fruitcakes and...you know...buses...that's not what musicians do. That's what people do who want activities. 

We have got to say that music is essential to the development of every child. Not just the ones in my band, so if I get the budget I want, and the space I want, I'm perfectly happy...I'm NOT happy. I'm not happy till every child has quality music education, because for the full development of that child that's essential. Now, it's not essential that they have activities, they've got plenty of them!

So, we have got to make band programs... music education programs.

Because what happens, is we have band programs...I mean there are millions and millions and millions of kids who've sat for how many years in band programs...who graduate from high school, and they're not... they don't love music. They might love a spectrum of music, but they would have loved that without the band program. The idea of education is taking what a kid loves and [can] do, and expanding it, not taking away anything, but expanding it to a larger world, so that they can appreciate more, they can love more, they can experience more.

So we have to grow music lovers. Then we don't have to sell music.

If we don't, we have to sell it. So if you walk in any lobby of the professional orchestra today, they're selling tee shirts, mugs, everything else to stay afloat. We don't have music lovers...we gotta sell it like Madison Avenue does.

We gotta get serious people, about making band programs, music programs. That means the focus is on helping every single child grow to understand, appreciate, and love music. Now that's a big, big job. And it's easier to dangle prizes in front of kids, so we can say "we're better than everyone else" because we won the trophy.

The issue in art is not being better than anybody else, it's about finding who you are, and being creative. There's no trophies for that, but there's great enrichment and great fulfillment from it.

~Frank Battisti

 

More thoughts on teaching music.

What I've been reading in January

Here is a sampling of articles I've been sharing over the past week. You can get an rss feed of all the articles I find here

 

While the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will analyse pieces of music to make them more accessible ahead of their performance, the Philharmonia ...
See all stories on this topic »

The Guardian

Buffalo News
Today, 8:38 AM
School districts already are talking about ending full-day kindergarten classes, shutting down programs like music education and scrubbing all ...
See all stories on this topic »  Read more…
Chicago Sun-Times
Today, 7:47 AM
Though he has since earned a master's degree in music education, Schmidt says he doesn't think of himself primarily as a band director. ...
See all stories on this topic »  Read more…
What kind of music makes us spend the most in restaurants? Photo credit. Extending research by North and Hargreaves (1998), this study investigated the effect of music on perceived atmosphere and purchase intentions in a restaurant. ...
Barking up the wrong tree - http://www.bakadesuyo.com/  Read more…
These kinds of questions would be easier to answer if scientists understood the neural circuitry involved, says Charles Limb, a surgeon and saxophonist who studies creativity and is research director of the Neuro Education initiative at Johns Hopkins ... Dr. Limb asked professional jazz musicians to play a keyboard in a brain imager so he could see what was different about their brain activity when they improvised compared to when they played music they had memorized. ...
Creativity at Work Blog - http://www.creativityatwork.com/blog/  Read more…
... conducted research for Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, and earned a Ph.D. in early childhood music education from The Union Institute ...
See all stories on this topic »  Read more…
There is a myriad of evidence that supports the fact that music education helps kids excel in all academic disciplines," he said. "As much as I support athletics, there comes a point where you can't play football anymore. You can sing in a choir or play in ...  Read more…
And then long-term the goal is to fully restore music education K through 8, which is where our mission is, throughout the state. That will take many, many years. But that's our end goal." That is a lot of instruments. While the foundation fully funded the ...  Read more…
(author unknown)
Yesterday, 10:05 PM
PHOENIXVILLE — Providing children with an opportunity to experience music education at an early age, two Phoenixville area organizations have teamed up to make that goal a reality. Through a $12,000 grant given by the Steel City Blues Society, the Give ...  Read more…
Lexington Herald Leader
Yesterday, 9:45 PM
The Louisville Orchestra, which filed for bankruptcy, will be granted emergency funding to pay salaries owed to its musicians. The orchestra said in a news ...
See all stories on this topic »  Read more…

How modern classical music can still succeed

Image Credit- Roger Bourland music blog.

Alex Ross on Modern Classical Music

I’ve been wanting to write about this article by Alex Ross, published in the UK Guardian in November 2010, for some time now. Ross introduces some of the ideas from his new book, Listen to This, which is sure to garner as much attention as his first wildly popular book, The Rest is Noise.

Articles on classical music’s troubles appear daily in various news publications, so why is this book such a breath of fresh air? Three reasons:

  • Ross is a master of historical detail regarding trends and attitudes toward art in the past few hundred years, imbuing his views with relevance.
  • He is a gifted writer with a knack for vivid and evocative descriptions of classical music, indicating his depth of understanding of the music itself.
  • He is not afraid to lay his considerable reputation on the line to say what few others have said, that the whole culture of classical music is deeply troubled.

I’d like to share a story from my own musical history, which relates to the views of Alex Ross.

Believe it or not, my first exposure to Brahms symphonic music was in High School. Although I had started clarinet at age 12, and had played a few simple solos from Brahms clarinet sonatas, I had not heard or played any of his symphonies.

Then, while attending the Interlochen Summer Music Camp, I was in an orchestra which played Brahms 4th symphony in E Minor, Op. 98. I was blown away by how “modern” Brahms sounded. I had enough musical experience and knowledge to compare his music to other more classical period works up through Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Liszt and some 20th century works such as Howard Hanson’s very romantic 2nd Symphony.

Brahms crams inventiveness into every measure, radically daring harmonies and rhythms tucked into an overall “sensible” romantic style. It seems almost too much to enjoy, at least for a casual, passive listening experience. His music was just challenging enough to my relatively shallow listening sensibilities at the time that he propelled me to seek more and more complex “challenges” of musical puzzles.

I agree with Mr. Ross below, that the entire culture of classical music must untangle itself from the tradition of “easy listening”:

What must fall away is the notion of classical music as a reliable conduit for consoling beauty – a kind of spa treatment for tired souls. Such an attitude undercuts not only 20th-century composers but also the classics it purports to cherish. Imagine Beethoven’s rage if he had been told that one day his music would be piped into railway stations to calm commuters and drive away delinquents. Listeners who become accustomed to Berg and Ligeti will find new dimensions in Mozart and Beethoven. So, too, will performers. For too long, we have placed the classical masters in a gilded cage. It is time to let them out.

Those are hard words to hear for a performing musician who has honed a career perfecting the dusty old classical symphonies. But they are perhaps even more painful words for those who manage orchestras. For they are the ones who must reinvent the business and marketing of orchestral music, selling it to a new audience without alienating the old too much.

Would you like to share practice ideas with other musicians? You could do so at the Practice Café.

Share

       
 Read more…

Click here to view the embedded video.

American composer and electronic musician Milton Babbitt (May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011) died today at the age of 94.

Babbitt is probably best known for his serial and electronic works, and for his controversial 50′s High Fidelity articleWho Cares If You Listen. In the article, Babbitt offers his perspective on the role of the modern composer:

The composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute, and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media, with its very real possibility of complete elimination of the public and social aspects of musical composition.

 

via Paul Lanksy

 Read more…
(author unknown)
Yesterday, 6:54 AM
John Finney examines the child-centred progressive tradition to create a fresh way of evaluating ideas and practices that have evolved since 1950, ...
www.gowerpub.com/default.aspx?page...1...  Read more…
The SSO performs over 130 concerts to 200,000 people each year,” said Hage. “The SSO provides music and music education to more than 12,000 school children each year.” Past Oneida concerts have included the summer concert 2007, education concert in ...  Read more…
Expo Notes: Jammit lets you play with the pros Jammit aims to get people excited about learning music, especially kids.

   Read more…
Olivia Solon, Wired U.K.
Friday, 12:33 PM
Composer Alexis Kirke has created a duet between subatomic radioactive particles and a live violinist. To make the unusual music, radium is placed into a cloud chamber, a device used by physicists to observe particle trails.  Read more…
As part of the new year I plan on regular articles for all matters concerning music education and technology. Teachers in Australia are busily preparing coursework, lessons and materials for 2011 so I thought I would make available an interesting set of resources I used with my Year 7 & 8 students last year. Mussorgsky [...]  Read more…
iPad Creative
Monday, 7:46 AM
How about this then? Probably one of the most technically proficient iPad recorded songs we have ever featured, this Stairway to Heaven cover, played on the iPhone and recorded entirely on an iPad using Multitrack DAW, shows what can be done exclusively on iOS devices with some careful planning and probably quite a bit of musical talent.  Read more…
McPherson, G. E., Hendricks, K. S.
Dec 5, '10, 7:15 AM

As a part of a larger international mapping exercise to examine students’ motivation to study music as compared to other school subjects, this article draws upon data from a sample of 3037 students in the USA to observe perceptions of values, competence and interest in music study (in school versus outside of school) among music learners and non-music learners. Students were grouped into three grade levels: (a) 6, (b) 7—9, and (c) 10—12. Music learners in the USA had significantly higher motivational profiles for music and some other school subjects as compared to non-music learners. Music interest inside of school was ranked significantly lower than for any other subject, while music interest outside of school was ranked second highest for any subject in grades 6 and 7—9, and highest of all subjects in grades 10—12. This article addresses cultural and contextual issues in the USA to consider how music advocates might better demonstrate the importance and usefulness of music study as an academic course. Practical recommendations include encouraging a broader emphasis beyond performance and competition, and promoting opportunities for autonomous music learning within the school setting.

 Read more…

This study draws on an expectancy-value theoretical framework to examine the motivation (competence beliefs, values and task difficulty) of 24,143 students (11,909 females and 10,066 males, aged 9 to 21 years) from eight countries (Brazil n = 1848; China n = 3049; Finland n = 1654; Hong Kong n = 6179; Israel n = 2257; Korea n = 2671; Mexico n = 3613; USA n = 3072). Music was studied in comparison to five other school subjects (art, mother tongue, physical education, mathematics, science) across three school grade levels that included the key transition from elementary to secondary school. Results indicated that music as a school subject was valued less and received lower task difficulty ratings than other school subjects with the exception of art. Students reported higher competence beliefs for physical education and mother tongue compared to music and lower competence beliefs for mathematics and art. There was an overall decline in students’ competence beliefs and values across the school grade levels for all countries except Brazil. Females reported higher competence beliefs and values and lower task difficulty ratings for music, art and mother tongue than males. Males reported higher competence beliefs and lower task difficulty ratings for physical education and mathematics. There were no gender differences for values in mathematics. Music learners reported higher competence beliefs and values and lower task difficulty across school subjects than non-music learners. Secondary analyses were used to further explore differences within each of the eight countries. Findings suggest that once students have experienced learning to play an instrument or voice, they become more motivated towards other school subjects. Implications of the findings suggest that advocacy aimed at increasing the values that students attach to music as a school subject may encourage more students to become music learners across a wide range of countries.

Facebook Band Director PLC Crosses 1,000 Members In First Month

Star Fire Shower

The Right Fuel

A few months ago Facebook changed their "groups" implementation to facilitate a higher degree of interaction amongst members. There were three key changes that excited me:

  1. Member postings now show immediately in the personal newsfeeds of all members
  2. Members can easily add their colleagues
  3. Members can receive new postings as emails (think "listserv")

By making group interaction easy Facebook has finally become a viable platform for people who are not "friends" but share a common interest. This is a logical step for educators since most of us are already "there." We just needed a simple and effective way to connect.

The PLC Launch Pad

Shortly after the group enhancements were made I launched "I'm a band director" (http://facebook.com/groups/banddirector) with the intent of creating a thriving Professional Learning Community (PLC) for band directors. Within its first month the membership crossed the 1,000 mark and is now approaching 1,200. But more importantly people are conversing and sharing what they know. We are talking repertoire, rehearsal techniques, organization, philosophy, resources. In short, Facebook has become a professional development hub...perhaps the place to discuss the band directing profession. We finally have the right tools and the right conditions to bring actual practitioners together utilizing something that is already a part of (nearly) everyone's daily routine: Checking in with Facebook.

Everyone Is An Astronaut

One aspect of the Facebook PLC that I find particularly exciting is the concept of what it means to "be published." If I post a blog article that I've written or someone posts a teaching tip, the "like" button and comments in our PLC become an instant peer review system. And what is even more powerful is that the "peers" are truly just that: Actual school practitioners. The immediacy of this paradigm frankly blows my mind. No longer are teachers waiting for the next issue of a magazine in order to get new ideas. No longer are authors waiting to hear from a review panel comprised with (at times) reviewers who are out of touch with current practices. The Facebook PLC allows every member to publish their thoughts and instantly receive feedback, affirmation, and refinement of their ideas. And everyone benefits from this synergy on a daily basis.

Stop By And Say Hello

If you haven't taken the Professional Learning Community plunge, I would certainly suggest you give our PLC a try. Oh, and if you teach orchestra, check out "I teach orchestra" at http://facebook.com/groups/orchestrateacher as well...we just crossed the 200 mark.

A Conversation with Steven Schick

I very much enjoyed this ten-minute interview with percussionist and UCSD faculty member Steven Schick. His thoughts about the ways in which music and musicians are relevant certainly has implications for music educators. Consider starting your new year with some thought-provoking ideas.


One on One - Esperanza Spalding

This interview with Esperanza Spalding impressed me on a number of fronts. She is intelligent, humble, insightful, and mature beyond her years. If you haven't checked out her music you are missing out on being able to follow a music legend in the making. I highly recommend her latest work, Chamber Music.

While I think she is a great inspiration for young women interested in making it in the jazz world, her musicianship, positive outlook, and grounded view on the world is beneficial to all of us. Educators will especially appreciate her thoughts on teaching.