Thursday, February 16, 2017

What is band?

I teach a graduate class at the University of Bridgeport in Secondary Music Methods.  These students are generally musicians who have decided to get their education certification.  Some students are current teachers working toward their masters.

We have had many discussions trying to define what band is.  We have spent many hours discussing Peter Boonshaft's books, discussing shortcomings of a traditional band program, and what a program should look like.

I posed this question: should a HS band student be able to play out of a Level 1 piano book?

Now--many of these students remembered the frustration of keyboard exams in music school and also lament that the piano has become a much less important instrument (everyone has been asked "do you want my Aunt's piano?").

The question, I think, gets to the heart of "What does it mean to be a good musician?".  What do you think?  What should band look like?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Choir Honors Performance Repertoire

Last fall I applied to have the SHS Chorale perform as an Honors Ensemble at the 2017 CT Music Educators Conference.  We submitted three recordings which I am told are heard blind (no names) and we were selected!

I have had this honor a few times before.  It is a challenge to choose repertoire for this occasion.  You want to sound good, provide a great experience for the students, and show some knowledge of repertoire.

Knowing, above all, that I have no idea what I am doing I asked my local university friends (all of whom have visited our group) for ideas.  I also polled the students.  I think we have a plan.  It is a mix of songs we have done in the last 9 months and a few new ones.  I don't think I am breaking any new ground--but it is a challenging program.

The Chorale is 13 girls.

1. Ave Maria (Guy Forbes).  The students picked this up quicker than I thought they would, but its still kicking our butts.  Concert on this tomorrow.  Requires us to SING in 4 pretty independent parts.


2. Lineage (Andrea Ramsey).  Fairly easy tune that we did at WCSU this year.  We pulled this out last week and nailed it--which convinced us to do it.  Allows us to bring a few percussionists.


3. Parting Glass (arr. Jenny's).  I love this tune.  Totally traditional setting and the Jenny's set it in perfect voicing.  Very easy to sing this slightly out of tune...


4. Ergen Deda.  Thank you to Dr. Douma of Yale for this idea.  I remember seeing this group in concert at Oberlin.  Jaw dropping.  My students have gotten very good at close harmony stuff so this should be fun.  We did Niska Banja a few years back.


5. Will The Circle Be Unbroken.  CMEA Southern Regional is doing this (in 100 voice choir) and I thought it would be good to match the "folk/traditional" theme we were developing.  Allows some solos and up tempi work.  Dr. Ganschow of WCSU convinced me to keep this one.


6. Voice Dance.  I KNOW I did this before, but I can't remember when.  Anyone??  The song really swings.


We might add Sweet Dreams (Deke Sharon), Scarborough Fair or Old Joe Clark (Goetze).

Ideas welcome!