Travis J. Weller Advocate, Composer, Conductor, Educator Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:54:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 6340325 New Music for 2017! Mon, 05 Jun 2017 14:44:09 +0000

self-portraitIt has been an exciting year (and my final) at Mercer Middle-Senior High School. I am eagerly looking forward to the next chapter that begins in the Music Department at Messiah College. I will be serving as Director of Music Education for the undergraduate program. So many great faculty on staff, and it will be great working side by side with fellow composer Jim Colanna.

I am pleased to share I have five new works for band coming out this summer:

For younger bands, I would encourage directors to add some variety to their programming by exploring the Latin sounds and dance style of the rumba in Rattlesnake Rhumba. There is some duality in title meaning as a group of Rattlesnakes can be referred to as a “rhumba”. It is published by Wingert-Jones.

Another young band work that is very accessible is “Fanfare of Joy” from Bandworks Publications. Using part of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, this brief fanfare work reminds our students and audience how music is able to bring joy and bring us together. For a full length recording, visit here:

If your middle school or junior high band is looking for a brilliant and challenging fanfare, please check out Festival of Flight from FJH Music. Written entirely in 6/8 time, there is tremendous energy and power from the stately fanfare to uplifting conclusion.

I am extremely thankful for veterans and service personnel of all ages, and I am particularly pleased how Songs of Soldiers turned out. The work combines two American civil war era songs that express the different emotional extremes that families experience when a loved one enters the service. It sets Johnny’s Gone for a Soldier against the well-known Johnny Comes Marching Home.

Of the four pieces, I am very excited about The Shady Grove. I have a particularly fond love of folk songs, and all credit goes to my wife for suggesting setting this one for concert band. The Shady Grove is an 18th century courting song with countless verses and versions. The setting I completed captures the haunting nature of its Dorian melody, and the playful wit of the song as a definite bluegrass groove emerges later on (get out the spoons and washboards! – Seriously, I put them in the percussion parts!). There are a number of solo opportunities (Euphonium, French Horn, Clarinet, Flute, & Trumpet) within the work, and I would suggest taking the second half of the piece a bit faster than indicated. This piece was honored with a J.W. Pepper’s Editor’s Choice Award for 2017.

Finally, I just want to take a minute to tell directors, colleagues, and friends thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled by the fact many of you deem my music worthy to share with your students, and I hope through the process of studying and performing them it has made your band members stronger musicians and people. If you have performed one of my works at any point during the last year, please take a minute to register your students performance with me!

It truly is an honor. Fri, 04 Nov 2016 23:01:53 +0000

Tomorrow (November 5th) I will be at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for their annual Junior High Honor Band Invitational. Dr. Jason Worzbyt (friend, colleague, and bassoonist supreme) extended an invitation to me last spring to come down and share with the students. I am so very appreciative when the invitation comes from not only a friend, but a colleague that I have the utmost respect for in the profession.

I am eager to join a group of students tomorrow on a different stage, and although many of us are meeting for the first time going on a music journey together. Part of the journey is how they can grow from what I offer them tomorrow. Part of that journey is sharing how music has impacted me and led me to this point of my career. Part of that journey is learning from them and how music is shaping them. We have but a small window of time together, but the positive impact we make on each other could have long-lasting effects on them as people and musicians.

I don’t think it will translate into a whole honor band full of students choosing music as career path, though I hope to have that conversation and give them the best perspective I can. I do make it a priority to reinforce to them that whatever path they choose to make sure music continues to be a part of it. The path for me continues after I will leave IUP on Saturday evening. I am looking forward to extending my journey of new faces brought together through music as I visit with Chris Curry (Clarion JH/SH), Tad Greig (Westminster College) and Mark Stickney (Plymouth State, NH) and many other students on a similar path.

I don’t take these invitations lightly, as it may be a chance to inspire and ignite young musicians to boldly choose the many gifts that music offers and make it their own. I feel terrible when I have to decline an invitation, as these are unique opportunities to grow and learn with a group of like-minded people. At the end of the day, it is an honor to be thought of for these events and I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity. To Jason, Chris, Tad, and Mark I humbly thank you.

November 5th Program at IUP:

Kentucky 1800 – Clare Grundman
Friends of Freedom – Timothy Loest
The Greenbelt at Dusk – Gabriel Musella
Suspended Animation – Patrick Burns
Salute to the Duke – arranged by Michael Sweeney
The Rising Kingdom – Travis J. Weller


In a Summer Daze Wed, 13 Jul 2016 20:59:21 +0000

When was July 4th? Same time as last year? When did that happen? I guess I am in a “summer daze”…

To all my band director friends and colleagues, I hope you are enjoying a great summer – time to refresh and refocus. Before long many of us (including yours truly) will be back into marching band camps and rehearsals. Just around the next corner a new year begins and our concert bands begin.

If you have not received the mailing from Wingert-Jones, I am pleased to release two new mid-level works for band this year. With so many good choices out there for young band, I would take a moment to encourage directors and colleagues alike to consider The Rising Kingdom (an excellent work for contest or festival) or Sugar Plum Samba (a new setting of a holiday classic) for their groups next year. The Rising Kingdom is programmatic in nature telling the story of the rise to power of a medieval realm against tyrannical forces. Sugar Plum Samba is a allows your the ensemble to experience a new twist (heavy on the Lime & Paprika) on a very familiar holiday tune. The percussion will enjoy getting to be heavily involved with a variety of Latin percussion toys throughout the piece!

I am continually humbled by the warm reception that pieces like American Visions, Irish Jig for Young Feet, and The Last Stagecoach Heist continue to receive. I would also suggest to directors and colleagues alike to check out Moravian Dance (ideal for HS Groups to close a concert), Journey to the Prairie (wonderful programmatic work), I Bought Me a Band (great for recruitment concerts), and Yankee Fanfare (a delightful patriotic contribution!).

As the year begins in just a few short weeks, I take a minute to encourage fellow directors, colleagues, and friends to give their bands and students the best possible chance to experience musical success this year. Great things can happen for our students individually and as a group when they are given good music, good instruction, and are encouraged to be something greater than they can be by themselves.

I thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled by the fact many of you deem my music worthy to share with your students, and I hope through the process of studying and performing them it has made your band members stronger musicians and people. If you are going to perform one of my works at any point during the last year, please take a minute to register your students performance with me! If the schedules would work out, I would enjoy the opportunity to visit with them via Skype!

New music! Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:13:15 +0000

I am eagerly awaiting the debut of “Fanfare for Years to Come” tonight by good friend Dr. Joseph M. Pisano and the Grove City College Wind Ensemble. I wrote the work for Joe and the students in the Grove City College Band as part of my appearance there this weekend on their annual Parents Weekend Concert. The fanfare uses the college hymn as source material (“O God Our Help in Ages Past”). Their rehearsal of the work yesterday was wonderful! I will be conducting three works on the program this evening at 7:30 p.m. including Festival and Ballade for Winds, A Frontier Fought and A City Found, and Monster of Myth. I am looking forward to seeing friends and alumni alike at the concert!

I am also very pleased to share that recordings of two new mid-level works for band are now up on-line at Wingert-Jones and J.W. Pepper. With so many good choices out there for young band, I would take a moment to encourage directors and colleagues alike to consider The Rising Kingdom (an excellent work for contest or festival) or Sugar Plum Samba (a new setting of a holiday classic) for their groups next year.

Finally, I just want to take a minute to tell directors, colleagues, and friends thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled by the fact many of you deem my music worthy to share with your students, and I hope through the process of studying and performing them it has made your band members stronger musicians and people. If you have performed one of my works at any point during the last year, please take a minute to register your students performance with me!

Music is the Gift! Sun, 28 Feb 2016 03:06:17 +0000

As a music educator of over twenty years and a parent of school age children, I don’t always attend a live concert where I don’t have a vested interest. If I am not thinking about how my own students might do, I am a proud father hanging on each note my own children perform. One might think someone in my position might take for granted what a wonderful gift music can be. On Friday evening, February 19, Dr. R. Tad Greig and his students at Westminster College reminded their parents and campus community of that very principle, and for that they deserve high praise and accolades.

Both the 40 member Wind Ensemble and 65 member Symphonic Band played on the concert delivering a fine performance of challenging, and engaging works representing the entire gambit of styles in concert band repertoire. I was proud to see two former students performing on the concert, and recognized the names of students from some of the fine band programs in Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties. While some people would not equate the composers on the program with the likes of Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven, the names of Persichetti (a native of Pennsylvania) and Reed (a prolific writer of concert band music) resonated strongly with me because of the exceptional music they have contributed to the medium. Other relatively new composers also had works included on the program like Anne McGinty (a Duquense University graduate), John Mackey, Brian Balmages, and the brilliant Ron Nelson. As each different work was performed, the ensembles conveyed the intent of the composer bringing about the notes on paper to their fullest sonic possibility.

This was no accident mind you. Dr. Greig is a fine professor and band director, and I have observed his work with students from junior high to college on numerous occasions. He challenges them to become something greater than they can be by themselves, and at the same time educate them about unique aspects that only music can offer. The students weren’t exceptional at the concert because the lights on stage were up and there were people watching. The level of respect they displayed for their art, the trust they placed in each other and Dr. Greig, and the competence they developed within each ensemble were evident in their preparation prior to the concert. This was community at its finest; a leader setting high standards and being willing to work with those he leads to bring about the best possible result, and a group of like-minded people from different walks of life (majors and areas of study) committing to reaching those standards and collaboratively making it happen.

From the opening notes of Dana Wilson’s Shortcut Home to the vibrant, rhythmic energy of Ron Nelson’s Homage to Perotin, the students at Westminster College delivered an exceptional evening of music. This wasn’t a professional group – it was a group of students who went about their opportunity to learn and ultimately perform in a professional way. Unlike a professional group which may charge some sort of ticket fee, this was a free opportunity to take in live musicians doing what they do best. Here again, this was the Westminster College community at its finest: students giving a wonderful night of music to their parents, faculty members, and other students. We should all be so fortunate and blessed to have this kind of opportunity delivered to us frequently throughout the year.

Westminster is not the only school locally who offers these kinds of concerts for the public to take in, but it served another reminder of what greatness can sound like when people work together. It reminds us that the fine and performing arts are an important part of culture and community, and all of us need to not push play but rather seek out those opportunities to hear a live group perform. The American Wind Band has not been around as long as the older, more refined brother the Orchestra, but in a short time it has delivered great music written by great composers that can be brought to life by a new generation. The concert band and wind ensemble are vital to music education’s mission to enriching and sustaining culture. This was the final reminder of community at its finest as Dr. Greig and his students paid respect to great works of the past, and yet looked ahead to new works of recent vintage.

How fitting it was that the Westminster College Symphonic Band closed their concert with Anne McGinty’s Tis a Gift (based upon the familiar Shaker Song “Simple Gifts”). Through their artistry in but a small moment of time, they provided a reminder of what a precious gift music is to our schools, our children, and our communities. Congratulations to Dr. Greig and his students on a wonderful night of music, and I would encourage all of you to seek out a concert gift at school or college in our community in the near future.


January 2016 – Apperances Sun, 03 Jan 2016 21:51:55 +0000

I am eagerly looking forward to working with the Lawrence County Senior High All-Star Band on Thursday, January 7th at Westminster College. I count many of the directors as good friends and colleagues, and I am honored they would extend me the invitation to work with their students. The program will be selected from the following:

Toccata by Patrick Burns
A Time to Dance by Julie Giroux
Elements by Brian Balmages
March Grandioso by Roland Seitz/arr. By Alfred Reed
The Shady Grove by Travis J. Weller

It is also nice to see the Junior High  Group will include Irish Jig for Young Feet on their part of the program on Thursday. Honor Bands at any level are wonderful opportunities to see students collaborate in meaningful and artistic ways. The challenge of the day will be to focus 100-plus minds towards a shared vision of each work, and bring about the very best music we can. It will be a wonderful day to – as Tony Maiello said at Midwest – “to go to music”!

I am also looking forward to presenting at the OMEA State Conference that will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 28th. My session “What to Do About All That’s New” will be at 5:00 p.m. on that Thursday of the conference. While many directors are well-versed on what constitutes the core repertoire, this session offers perspective and insight on the evaluation and inclusion of new and emergent concert band works in instrumental music settings. I am looking forward to visiting with many friends and colleagues who are scattered across Ohio.

To my friends, colleagues, directors, and readers – thank you for your continued support of my endeavors in instrumental music education. Best wishes to you in the new year, and I look forward to crossing paths again with you soon!

BCAEC Presentation Mon, 12 Oct 2015 01:55:27 +0000

I am looking forward to presenting at the Beaver County Arts Education Consortium tomorrow at Beaver Falls High School. I have the dubious distinction of following the honorable Dr. Joseph M. Pisano who will present during the morning session. Looking forward to some lively discussion, sharing some undiscovered hot charts, and how to get the most of some technology platforms you might already be using!

Updated Composition List (QR Codes) Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:00:24 +0000

Best wishes to directors everywhere who are about to start up their school year. I hope those with marching bands had a successful camp. For the benefit of a busy director who would just like to listen to a score with out too much effort, I have created a list of my works for concert band at all levels with QR Codes. Scan the code and it will take you right to a recording of the work. Thanks again for your support, and please feel free to contact me via Facebook or Twitter should you have any questions!

Country Sketches Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:35:14 +0000

I am pleased to announce that Country Sketches is now available from Bandworks Publications. This two movement work encapsulates growing up on a farm in Western Pennsylvania. I am very thankful and indebted to the wonderful group of friends and colleagues who did the recording back in March. The full recording of the piece can be found by clicking here. Another thank you to Patrick Burns who has been a great friend, mentor, and encourager of heart and music. I hope you enjoy this personal journey, and it might be a journey on which you can take your ensemble in the future.

For those interested, here is a panoramic view that influenced “Sunrise on the Hill” (Movement I). Click on the picture and it will open in a new window.

Sunrise on the Hill

PMEA Summer Conference 2015 Mon, 13 Jul 2015 11:22:03 +0000

I am looking forward to presenting tomorrow at the 2015 PMEA Summer Conference in Harrisburg tomorrow. The session is entitled “Even ensemble directors need P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.” (focusing on Planning, Repertoire, Assessment, Concerts, T’s of the Rehearsal, Instruction, Creativity, and Ethics and Emotion). This session includes a blend of recent research in music education, and interactive discussion of best practice and new ideas. Also included in the extended session will be a reading session of new concert band music. I am extremely thankful to Jack Wilds, Willie Owens, Timothy Loest, Chris Bernotas, Scott Watson, Mekel Rogers, Andrew Boysen Jr., Tyler Grant, Chris Sharp, Kevin Hackinson and Brian Balmages for their assistance in getting music for the session.

Songs of Soldiers Debut Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:27:28 +0000

It was a wonderful moment to share the stage with the Musician’s Concert Band on Thursday evening as they gave the debut of “Songs of Soldiers”. I have attempted several times to arrange a work utilizing the Civil War folk song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, but had not been able to complete a setting to my satisfaction. At my wife’s suggestion (an elementary music teacher), I began experimenting partnering that tune with Shule Agrah (“Johnny’s Gone for a Soldier”). At their core – the songs are opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. On one hand the anxiety and fear one feels when a loved one goes off to war is accurately portrayed in Shule  Agrah. In “Johnny comes Marching Home”, we hear the joy and relief of their safe return. Although the songs have this stark emotional contrast, they partner well and I was very pleased with the end product. I am thankful for the Musician’s Concert Band and their director Jeff Kroner for letting me have this opportunity with the ensemble (a wonderful group of musicians and people). As many of us begin our Fourth of July celebrations, I hope you all have the opportunity to thank a veteran, thank one who is serving, or thank a family of one who gave all so that we can enjoy freedom on a daily basis. You can check out the recording below courtesy of SoundCloud.

A Scottish Sunrise Debut! Fri, 12 Jun 2015 14:31:14 +0000

Many thanks to Mark Falvo and Eric Schrader for inviting me to write for the students of the Canon-McMillan “Big Mac” Band this past year. They delivered a wonderful debut of “A Scottish Sunrise” on May 14th. The piece begins at the 53′ mark on the video. Congratulations Mark, Eric, and students on a great performance! The piece is now available from Wingert-Jones music, and received an Editor’s Choice Award for 2015-2016.

Summer 2015 – The Days Are Just Packed! Sun, 31 May 2015 20:52:05 +0000

Hello friends and colleagues! I hope all of you have experienced a successful end to your school year and are ready to recharge this summer. Some exciting news to report with some new music out, and some some clinic work.

I am looking forward to presenting a couple of clinics at the PMEA 2015 Summer Conference in Harrisburg in July. I was certainly surprised to be invited to present, and am honored to be asked. If you are in the Keystone and attending, please let me know – so many fine educators and leaders in Pennsylvania take the time to recharge their batteries over a couple of days at this conference.

I am really thankful for the friendship and support of Patrick Burns, and I am so pleased that Bandworks Publications will release “Country Sketches”. I am very indebted a group of friends and colleagues who helped make the recording in March. I will also be releasing one piece for Junior High/Middle School with FJH Music entitled “Hammer and Rail”. I am an ardent supporter of folk music of all kinds, and I believe this setting of “This Old Hammer” has lots to offer young musicians pedagogically, and extra-musically. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that “A Scottish Sunrise” (available from Wingert-Jones) received an Editor’s Choice Award for this year. The work was written for the “Big Mac” Band in Canonsburg under the direction of Mark Falvo and Eric Schrader. It is a stellar choice for concert and contest alike.

Getting ready for an intense June – composing, writing, researching, preparing for a clinic, playing my tuba and with the MCB in Butler. The real fun begins with daughter’s dance recitals, more baseball and softball games, fishing, landscaping, and eventually getting my toes in the sand. Thank you all for your continued support and friendship in music. Have a great summer!

Blair County, Canon-McMillan, and Baldwin: A busy spring! Mon, 19 Jan 2015 03:09:45 +0000

A busy spring begins in just a few short weeks with the Blair County JH Honors Band. After that, debuts abound, clinics come round, and I even get to see the 6 foot rat that lives in Florida! 🙂

I am eagerly looking forward to guest conducting the Blair County Junior High Honors in February. It is always an honor to be asked to guest conduct, especially when it comes from educators who do what I do on a daily basis. My thanks to Kris Laird for extending this invitation. This link is for the Blair County JH Band Participants – a little background on the pieces and some of my expectations as the festival approaches.

My friendship with Eric Schrader began almost 24 years ago during my freshmen year at Grove City College. He was hired at one of the local schools as band director. I always have held a high level of respect for Eric’s bands, and during his final full year at Greenville High School commissioned Monster’s of Myth. Now teaching at a new district, I was elated to hear from him for another commission for the Canon-McMillan “Big Mac” Band. I have known their director Mark Falvo for a number of years, and with Eric as an assistant I know they are doing great things with their students. In a few short months, they will debut “Scottish Sunrise”. I am pleased to announce that the piece is already in press with Wingert-Jones Music.

I am also looking forward to hearing the debut of “A Bond Made Strong” – a commissioned work for the Baldwin High School Band celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District in Pittsburgh. Greg Steele, the director, are both alumni of Grove City College and that we have crossed paths numerous times at PMEA events and at the college for events. Making use of the school alma mater, it is a celebratory piece fitting for the year long observance of the district’s anniversary. It was a unique moment at Midwest this year that I met Kirk Vogel. While discussing current projects, I mentioned doing this piece for a school in Pittsburgh. Little did I know Kirk graduated from Baldwin and could still sing the alma mater! A small world indeed!

I will be presenting two sessions on Friday, March 27th at the PMEA Conference in Hershey. The first session “What to do with all that’s new” is an extension of research from my dissertation. I will moderate a panel of friends and accomplished directors in their own right during the second session. “From July to June keeping the band in tune” includes members of the PhI Beta Mu International Band Fraternity Nu Chapter to discuss strategies they use to get the most out of their students.

I am also pleased to announce that FJH Music will publish “Hammer and Rail” next year, a jh/ms band piece that uses “This Old Hammer” as source material. I am looking forward to sharing the recording in the coming months as I believe it will be a very strong contribution to the Grade 2 band repertoire. 2015-16 is already shaping up to be incredibly busy with two honor bands on the schedule and several commissions already booked. I am blessed and thankful to friends and colleagues who support me on this journey. I hope that all of you are experiencing a warm start with your bands to the second half of your year, and I look forward to seeing you somewhere down the road!

Middle School/Junior High Band Literature Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:42:17 +0000

First of all, thanks to friends and colleagues who sent me messages regarding my post about Elementary Band Literature. Though I have not written a wealth of pieces at that grade level, I will say in most cases they are challenging to write in a different way than some of the pieces I have completed at higher grade levels. It is always an honor to learn a piece has been selected for use with younger musicians, so thank you in advance should one of the pieces in that article work for your group this year.

I wanted to provide a similar kind of post for both pieces designed for Middle School/Junior High and Senior High groups as they school year begins. Below are a series of short links with suggestions on level of ensemble, and a few technical notes. In all cases, you can view a score image and listen to the recording as well.

There is criticism of music at the MS/JH grade level (and I certainly haven’t been immune to it). That being said, sometimes our ensemble music provides the vehicle to arrive at our musical goals for our students. In a nutshell (“Sparknote” version), balance, contrast, melody, expressive impact, and pedagogical use are things I exam closely.

Repertoire has been a long-standing research area for me, and I do constantly think about it. I’ve enjoyed contributing thoughts like these on great young band repertoire in Teaching Music and The Instrumentalist this past year, and I stand by the music I recommended in both articles. A good friend said to me “That’s great. But where are YOUR pieces listed?” Part of my success as a guest conductor and clinician is knowing:
1) Great music doesn’t have to be hard. It needs to be great.
2) The best repertoire choice for an ensemble doesn’t mean my name is always in the equation.
With that in mind, I humbly present several of my own in this post. I hope these selections listed below might be of service to friends and colleagues in Middle School/Junior High Band settings throughout the school year! Best wishes, play well, and love music!

Irish Jig For Young Feet (Grade 2) – Original Irish Jig music in 6/8. Basic 6/8 rhythms w/ call and response between percussion and the instrumentalists (using their feet!). Ideal for light/novelty work in your concert. Available from FJH.

Journey to the Prairie (Grade 2) – Programmatic work about the westward expansion. Continuous music with 4 distinct sections. 3rd place recipient in the 2009 Ticheli Composition Contest. Available from Manhattan Beach Music.

Tales of a Medieval Warrior (Grade 2-2.5) – Programmatic work about the rise of a young Knight, his courtship of a fair maiden, and his victory in jousting. 3 movements with basic rhythms in cut-time (Mvts. I & II) and 6/8 (Mvt. III). A great addition for contest or adjudication. Available from FJH.

Yankee Fanfare (Grade 2.5) – A new setting of Yankee Doodle abounding in Patriotic Pride! Some mixed meter (5/4 & 2/4), it works great to open or close a concert. Available from Grand Mesa Music. It has really been popular over the past year with JH & MS Ensembles.

Siege of the Dark Castle (Grade 2) – This piece plays closer to a 1.5 than a 2, but the dark tonality, contrasting articulations, and a three part fugue make it a great work at the MS/JH level. Available from Barnhouse.

The Last Stagecoach Heist (Grade 2-2.5) – Originally the third movement of a “Cowboy Symphony” for young band, this work chronicles the last infamous act of “Black Bart”. It is energetic and has great lines across the ensemble to engage students. Available from FJH.

Eyes of the Dragon (Grade 2) – New for 2014 Young Band, a great dragon is met in a battle by a solitary warrior with his kingdom’s fate hanging in the balance. Expanded percussion writing and presence of dissonant chords make this an exciting choice for young bands at the ms/jh level. Available from FJH Music.

Dancing Under The Stars (Grade 2.5) – A delightful little gem with a little bit of quirkiness, lots of joy, and opportunities to challenge your better players with optional solos across the ensemble. It works wonderfully as a change of pace piece on any concert. Available from Bandworks Publications.

New for 2015:

Hammer and Rail (Grade 2) – There is wonderful social commentary in the legend of John Henry and his race against the Steam Powered Drill. My setting of This Old Hammer begins as an expressive elegy that gives way to the whistles of the steam drill and the pounding of hammers. It is available from FJH Music.

Elementary Band Literature Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:24:14 +0000

I’ve had a couple of inquiries from friends and colleagues about beginning band literature that I have completed. Below are a series of short links with suggestions on level of ensemble, and a few technical notes. In all cases, you can view a score image and listen to the recording as well. Best wishes to all elementary band directors as they will start many a great musician on their journey in the arts in just a few weeks.

Sonic Ascent (Grade 0.5) – It uses only the first 6 notes in a B-flat concert scale, and all sections get opportunities to contribute melodic material. Ideal for a band in their second semester of instrumental instruction. Available from Barnhouse.

Winds of a New Day (Grade 1.5) – A short fanfare work with contrast between bold and legato melodic lines. Ideal for a band late in their 3rd or early 4th semester of instrumental instruction. Available from Barnhouse.

I Bought Me A Band (Grade 2) – Though listed at a 2, this plays MUCH closer to a 1. There are a few short meter changes, and there are a number of repeated sections as we travel through the children’s song “I Bought Me A Cat”. This is a great recruitment concert selection as each section of the band gets their own soli. Ideal for a band late in their 3rd or early 4th semester of instrumental instruction. Available from Barnhouse.

Let Them Soar! (Grade 2) – Listed at a 2, this delightful little work includes wonderful contrast and a beautiful four part round in the middle section. Thankful for friend and colleague Dr. Joseph M. Pisano who did the recording for me one take!  Ideal for a band in their 4th semester of instrumental instruction. Available from Bandworks Publications.

Marshalls of the Open Range (Grade 1) – A challenge piece from friend Dennis Emert, this was my first work for elementary band published. As far as I know, it can be ordered through J.W. Pepper. Ideal for a band in their late 2nd or early 3rd semester of instrumental music instruction.

Thanks for the inquiries, and I hope this music can be of service to your students and your teaching in the coming year. Thank you in advance for your support of this music, and best wishes to elementary bands everywhere!

Musicians Concert Band Fri, 04 Jul 2014 14:19:30 +0000

First of all, Happy Independence Day! It is a great day to celebrate our freedom, and thank the men and women who have and continue to protect it at home and abroad. I am eager looking forward to celebrating America and Patriotism next Thursday as I guest conduct The Musicians’ Concert Band at Butler Intermediate High School. This free concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

It was an honor to be asked by their conductor and friend Jeff Kroner (Director of Bands, Butler Intermediate & Senior High School). The program includes a number of staples of Patriotic Concert including Bilik “American Civil War Fantasy”, Alfred Reed’s “Rushmore”, Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute” and the dynamic “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams. Also to appear on the program is a wonderful contribution by Larry Neeck entitled “Sons of Liberty” (a collection of Revolutionary War Songs), “A Star-Spangled Spectacular” (music of George M. Cohan), and my own “American Visions“.

This band holds a special place in my heart and experience as a young educator. Here I got to know Blase Scarnati. A wonderful musician on the podium, and a gracious man off it. The one thing that Blase said that has stuck with me over the years was this quote “When this (gestures to his wallet becomes worth more than this (gesturing to his heart), we all have a problem.” The other message Blase sent was clear to me – people matter and how we treat them is paramount. Here I talked with Francis McBeth whose advice to me on composing was invaluable. The best advice I ever received was when he told me “The most important resource you can devote to composing is your time.” Here I made connections with mentors who I still call upon and enjoy getting to visit – “Corky” Whitacre, Tom Snyder, Dennis Emert, vince Sanzotti, John Gula, and Gary Taylor.

I hope to see friends and family from the area at the concert. It will be a wonderful evening.

Let Them Soar! Fri, 13 Jun 2014 15:12:06 +0000

Pleased to announce that “Let Them Soar!” is now available from Bandworks Publications! This new dynamic work for young band celebrates the amazing performances that young musicians  are able to produce. It reminds director, student, and audience alike how important opportunities in the performing  arts are for young musicians. Bold and energetic themes are contrasted against subtle textures in this triumphant anthem for young band. Important melodic material is shared by every section of the band, and the percussion keeps the momentum of the work moving towards an uplifting conclusion.

A full recording of the work can be found on line as well as a preview of the full score. While listed at the Grade 2 level, bands made up of students in the second year of instrumental music study may find this work to be an excellent fit for their spring concert. My thanks to Dr. Joseph M. Pisano and the Grove City College Symphonic Band for providing the recording on short notice! Finally I extend heartfelt appreciation and admiration for Patrick Burns (founder of Bandworks) who continues to support my works and has given me this chance to publish with Bandworks. Enjoy “Let Them Soar!”, best wishes to you and your students, and I thank you in advance for your support of this music!

Pride! Sat, 07 Jun 2014 17:56:50 +0000

I am eagerly looking forward to spending the day on Monday and Tuesday with the Westmoreland Middle School Concert Band and their director Mrs. Kristyn Cutler. Westmoreland commissioned me a year ago for a new work for the final concert of the year, and on Monday evening, “Pride!” will be given it’s world debut by the Westmoreland Middle School Concert Band. The title of the work takes its inspiration from the motto of their music department at Westmoreland – Performance met with Responsibility, Integrity, Dedication, and Excellence.

When I started working on the piece, the one thing I kept coming back to was to convey to these young musicians the uniqueness of playing in band, the wonderful heritage the American Wind Band enjoys, and to take pride in their decision to be a part of the fine and performing arts. When Kristyn shared with me their department motto, I knew then there could be no other title. While the main melody came to me rather quickly after the title, I wanted to be able to connect this work to the great history of the American Wind Band has enjoyed. There are a number of textural and orchestration choices within the piece that are a bit of a homage to several of the great band masterworks. I hope to talk about this with the students, and inspire them to get a good summer “playlist” that increases their appreciation for all that bands can do.

A live recording will be up later in the week, so do please check back to hear the finished product. I owe Kristyn and her students a debt of gratitude for allowing me to be part of their spring concert and bring some new music to life for young bands.

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New music for 2014! Tue, 27 May 2014 13:22:39 +0000

To my friends in instrumental music education, I hope the end of your school year is going well. When you begin planning for your ensembles next year, I hope that you will consider the following two works during your evaluation process. It is tough to balance the musical developmental needs of your students against the available repertoire. There are plenty of great choices available (from many people I call friends! :)), so I thank you in advance for considering these two works and deeming them worthy to share with your students. 

Let Them Soar! (Grade 1.5-2, available from Bandworks). A concert opener for young bands. The message behind the music is a simple one of advocacy: If we continue to provide experiences in the arts to our students, there is no limit to the heights they can reach – Let them soar! While the main melody is stately and uplifting, I am especially enjoy the four-part round towards the middle of the work.

Eyes of the Dragon (Grade 2-2.5, available from FJH Music). I owe one of my students, Ryan, thanks for the inspiration for this work. He suggested the title during a marching band percussion sectional – many months later (after a considerable writing dry-spell) Eyes of the Dragon emerged! It is a programmatic work depicting a battle between a solitary warrior and a threatening dragon. There is a great deal of “frenergy” in between dissonant chords throughout the piece which adds to the dramatic themes that unfold. The percussion battery requires a number of players. It does not have underlying backstory as other monsters I have written about, but I consider the work a bit of a departure from some of the other works I have completed at this level.

Thank you friends and colleagues for your support – the fact that you have included some of my pieces at various points with your students is incredibly humbling. I have a number of projects on the horizon (that no longer rhyme with words like dissertation), I do entertain commission or guest conducting projects. I always welcome followers on Twitter (as long as you can wade through the Star Wars and College FB/BB references) and Facebook. Enjoy your summer, rest up (at least until marching band camp starts!), and I hope to see you all in the near future!