Rehearsal Ideas

Big Leap into a Small Room

As another year is about to start, I am taking a big leap with my ensembles at Mercer into a much smaller room. Our first public performance this year will involve all instrumental students in grades 7-12 performing in a chamber recital in late September.  In past years, I have only involved the Wind Ensemble students at Mercer in the preparation of this music for the chamber recital.  The more I have involved  these students in the study and...

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Choosing Repertoire for Middle School Band

An abridged version of this article appeared in the January 2014 issue of Teaching Music (a publication of NAfME). For a list of works that I have completed for this level, please click here. Within today’s middle school band programs around the country, there are many directors that must develop their student’s technical performance skills within the ensemble setting.  Although not an ideal situation, it is the only viable option for...

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“Feeling” Interpreters

This week I began researching interpretation and feeling as part of my work at Kent State.  At first glance, they seemed unrelated. However, the more I began reading perspectives of different composers and conductors, my conclusion is that great interpretation does not just recreate the composer’s intent but rather conveys feelings that the composer intended. The sources abounded including Mark Camphouse’s series Composers on Composing for...

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Where is the love?

Ironically enough my readings this past week at Kent State, a Facebook discussion thread, and  Valentine’s Day collided at spawned this post. Pushing students to achieve levels of tonal and rhythmic accuracy is important – it is all part of getting them to a point where they have the technical proficiency they need to execute the big fundamental structure of a piece of music.  Tone quality and intonation awareness are two other dimensions...

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Small Ensembles and the Chamber of Doom?

Though living in the Northeast, the one thing I enjoy about January and February – besides Pitt basketball playing conference games in the Big East – is getting the chance to just teach.  Nothing pressing, no standardized tests on the immediate horizon, the students have returned refreshed from break, and there is plenty of fertile ground to plant some good musical seeds.  This week my Wind Ensemble began receiving music for our chamber...

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The beginnings of great artists (Part 2)

So the artists work is now starting to roll in – between final rehearsals for our “Fright Night” Concert and (surprise!) getting a touch with the flu, we had a couple week hiatus from our composition work.  I sat down today with a number of the students to listen to their 2nd assignment: an 8 measure duet with percussion accompaniment. Similar to the first assignment, they were given very specific guidelines to govern the creative...

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