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Teacher Tip: Implement Deliberate Practice



Kevin Mead, band director at Churchville-Chili High School in New York, shares how he is using SmartMusic to guide his students’ practice.

Our challenge: “Pineapple Poll”

The Churchville-Chili Wind Ensemble is currently working on the first movement of “Pineapple Poll”. I wanted to encourage and reward the students’ use of a “deliberate practice” approach for learning this challenging piece of music.

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Deliberate practice process:

  • I used the large group “pre-defined” assignment feature to automatically schedule specific assignments to all students.
  • Deselected the “Require default tempo” box and told students to select their own best submission tempo.

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In the “Instructions to students” window, I asked students to:

  • Start practicing at a slow tempo and don’t increase the tempo until you can get all green notes (regardless of how slow).
  • DO NOT submit the assignment until the last few days before it is due.

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I gave the students two options for submission:

  • If they played the excerpt at a tempo of mm=100 or greater, the recording grade would be out of 100 points possible.
  • If they choose to play the piece any tempo slower than mm=100, the recording grade would be out of 95 points
  • The SmartMusic “right note at the right time” assessment would be used at either tempo.

The results

  • Students worked at getting up to tempo and playing the notes correctly.
  • It discouraged students from submitting a poor performance at a faster tempo.
  • In either case, the SmartMusic grade remained unchanged, so getting the correct note at the correct time was rewarded.

My next step will be to create a rubric that encourages the same deliberate practice approach to learning our music.

Kevin Mead

Kevin R.Mead has been teaching music for 30 years, most of them in the Churchville-Chili School District in New York State. Mr. Mead is currently the director of the Senior High School’s select Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. His ensembles have won several awards and honors including many “Superior” ratings and 1st place performances throughout the east coast. Mr. Mead has been honored with several personal awards including his district’s “Triple C” award for service, a “Fish” award for “Making Their Day,” and was selected by the members of the Churchville-Chili Senior High National Honor Society as the 2005-06 “Teacher of the Year.”

32 New Ensemble Titles Released in SmartMusic



32 new ensemble titles are now available in SmartMusic.

Title Composer/Arranger Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Adventures of Kid Cam, The Rocketman!, The  Holsinger, David R. TRN Music Publisher Inc. Concert Band M
American Sketches  LaPlante, Pierre Daehn Publications Concert Band MA
…At Twilight  Grant, Tyler S. FJH Music Company Concert Band VE
Crown Diamonds, The  Auber, Daniel; arr. by Daehn, Larry Daehn Publications Concert Band M
Cruisin’ in Five  Sharp, Thom LudwigMasters Concert Band E
Fantastic Journey  Morales, Erik FJH Music Company Concert Band M
Huntress, The (March)  King, Karl L.; arr. by Glover, Andrew Barnhouse Concert Band ME
Huntress, The (March)  King, Karl L.; arr. by Milford, Gene LudwigMasters Concert Band ME
Imagine, if you will…  Mahr, Timothy Kjos Concert Band MA
La Comparsa (from Danzas Afro-Cubanos Suite)  Lecuona, Ernesto; arr. by Walker, Ben M. TRN Music Publisher Inc. Concert Band M
Megiddo  Wilds, Jack FJH Music Company Concert Band VE
On the Overland Stage to El Paso  Holsinger, David R. TRN Music Publisher Inc. Concert Band M
On the Wing  Wilds, Jack FJH Music Company Concert Band E
Over the Sea to Skye  Traditional Scottish Folk Tune; arr. by Wagner, Douglas E. Alfred Concert Band VE
Panhandle Prelude  Stamp, Jack Kjos Concert Band MA
Phasing Thunder  Balmages, Brian FJH Music Company Concert Band ME
Pulse  Standridge, Randall D. FJH Music Company Concert Band M
Reese’s Summer Day  Holsinger, David R. TRN Music Publisher Inc. Concert Band M
Reign  Smith, Robert W. Barnhouse Concert Band B
Rushmore (A Tribute to Freedom)  Bobrowitz, David Daehn Publications Concert Band ME
Showdown at High Noon  Wilds, Jack Grand Mesa Concert Band VE
Star-Spangled Banner, The  Smith, John Stafford; arr. by Balmages, Brian FJH Music Company Concert Band M
Thunder and Lightning (Unter Donner und Blitz)  Strauss, Johann; arr. by Daehn, Larry Daehn Publications Concert Band M
Walvisbaai (The Gateway to Namibia)  Ford, Ralph Alfred Concert Band VE
Warriors of Destiny  Gassi, Carmen Daehn Publications Concert Band ME
Zia (The Sacred Four)  Owens, William FJH Music Company Concert Band VE
Daystar  Reznicow, Joshua Kendor String Orchestra M
Dragonflies and Glitter  Vogel, Kirk Grand Mesa String Orchestra ME
Frosty’s Caribbean Holiday  Nelson, Steve & Rollins, Jack; arr. by Ford, Ralph Alfred String Orchestra ME
Highlights from Pique Dame von Suppe, Franz; arr. by Ford, Ralph Alfred String Orchestra M
Steampunk  Meyer, Richard Highland/Etling Publishing String Orchestra M
Winter Palace  O’Neill, Paul; arr. by Phillips, Bob Alfred String Orchestra M

 

You can request a piece for a future SmartMusic release here.

Piece of the Week: Allegro Moderato from Mozart Symphony No. 29



Allegro Moderato from Mozart Symphony No. 29

Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major is one of the earlier works in which Mozart truly found his own voice as a composer. As Maynard Solomon writes in Mozart – A Life, “at a certain point in his development, a gifted young composer… speaks in a tongue that has not previously been heard….” The principal theme of this piece is instantly familiar to even the occasional listener of classical music, and the Allegro’s blend of energetic counterpoint and memorable melodies will please the most modern teenager or jaded concertgoer.

At age 18 (1774), Mozart had already completed 28 works that are today known as symphonies, although a number of the earliest works are very basic in form and scope. The “Allegro moderato” (first movement), presented here in a string arrangement, contains that delicate Mozartian balance between graceful lyricism and his signature tempestuous energy and intensity. Mozart, during his later years, recognized this symphony’s beauty and performed it as a regular part of concerts given across Europe.

SmartMusic has several arrangements of this movement available from various publishers, for both concert band and string orchestra.

Audio Sample: String Orchestra arrangement by Robert McCashin

Audio performed by The Washington Pops, The Washington Winds and/or The Studio A Big Band, Conducted by Edward S. Petersen. (P) Studio Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

SmartMusic Gets Spooky



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Certain times of the year hold appeal for students and it is always nice to find music that is fun and motivational for them to play but also has educational value. SmartMusic has thousands of pieces of repertoire. One collection that you and your students might find appealing, especially this time of year, is called Spooky Solos. The solos, with accompaniment, are for band and string instruments.

Spooky Solos graphic

To find Spooky Solos in SmartMusic:

  • Go to Find music, type the word “spooky” and click Search.
  • Select the instrument, select a title and click Open.

Find spooky

The collection will be downloaded to your computer. After that, you can then find the collection in My Library>Solos.

Spooky Solos contains 14 solos that are both fun to play and musically satisfying. The collection contains some well known repertoire as well as a few original compositions by some of our own MakeMusicians.

Here is a sampling of the included titles along with some of the musical highlights:

  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice  (3/8, accidentals)
  • In the Hall of the Mountain King  (4/4, staccato, accents, accidentals)
  • Funeral March of a Marionette  (6/8, grace notes, accidentals, staccato, crescendo, decrescendo)
  • I’m So Happy I’m a Ghost  (4/4, 16th note rhythms, syncopation, Tango style)
  • Frankenstein’s Monster Goes Jogging  (4/4, chromatic scale)

Funeral March

The Spooky Solo collection is an exclusive SmartMusic virtual book and is not published in a hard copy format. Wouldn’t it be great if you could print out the solos? With Finale you can! These solos are included as notation files in Finale 2012 and Finale 2014.

To find the solos in Finale 2012 or Finale 2014:

  • Under the File menu select Open Worksheets & Repertoire.
  • Then choose Repertoire>Holiday Patriotic>Instrumental.

Finale

You will find instrument specific notation files plus the accompaniment file used in SmartMusic! In Finale, you can have some fun by changing the accompaniment instrument from piano to another instrument like harpsichord, which can provide even more of a spooky flavor. You can then export that file back into SmartMusic!

Spooky Solos are not only fun and motivational to play but can serve educational purposes as well. Maybe you could have an in class student recital featuring these solos. Wouldn’t that be a “treat”!

 

 

Piece of the Week: New Winter and Holiday Music 2014 part 2



New Winter and Holiday Music Part 2

Doesn’t it always seem like you’ve barely gotten done with back to school season and Halloween events when suddenly you’ve got to pick out pieces for your Winter holiday concert? Don’t worry because we here at SmartMusic have got your back. We’re always on the lookout for new arrangements of classic holiday tunes as well as brand new Winter-themed pieces, and on the blog this week we’re featuring some of our new holiday releases for 2014.

As always, we keep our Holiday list well-stocked. To search for holiday pieces in your SmartMusic browser, just go to Find Music, click on Advanced Search Options, and select “Holiday and Patriotic” from the Genre menu.

Trombones Under the Tree from C.L. Barnhouse Co.

This holiday medley includes several beloved carols all wrapped up in a jazzy package. What’s more, this arrangement features those unsung heroes of the jazz ensemble, the trombones. Trombones Under the Tree is a medium-easy arrangement that sounds great no matter how many trombones your section may include, and even works as a trombone solo with jazz band accompaniment. Includes the songs “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” and “Jingle Bells.”

Audio provided by C.L Barnhouse Co.

Bring Your Drums, Jeanette, Isabella from Alfred Music Publishing Co.

This piece, which is based on the traditional French carol “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella,” features the percussion section. It is appropriate for winter holiday concerts for students in their second year of band.

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

Teacher Tip: Students Select Concert Music



Ted Scalzo SMARTBoard

Music educators across the United States are using SmartMusic to engage their students in class and motivate them to practice at home. Here is Ted Scalzo’s (Bayshore H.S., Long Island, retired) story of how he asked his Wind Ensemble students to use SmartMusic to choose their concert music.

In October, I went through the SmartMusic library and selected every NYSSMA level VI in the catalog. Through the SmartMusic Gradebook, I sent the following listening assignment:

Dear Wind Ensemble member,

I am going to try something new this year and I need your help. In the attached list are 30 pieces of Wind Ensemble music that we could work on for our Spring NYSSMA evaluation. Since I believe in your skills, integrity, and ability to judge what is good music, I am going to allow you to choose the two pieces we will work on starting in January.

The SmartMusic assignment:

  • Listen to all 30 compositions.
  • Make notes for yourself.
  • Choose two contrasting works that you feel are great pieces of music that will show the strengths of our ensemble.
  • After listening to all 30 and choosing your top two, please write a paragraph or two about the work and why you think it is the right choice for our ensemble.
  • This is a long-term assignment that is not due until the last day of the first marking period. Please do not wait until the last day—30 pieces is a lot of music!

Good luck and I look forward to your ideas.
Musically yours,
Mr. S.

The Result:

  1. Students started talking about what they were listening to the day after the assignment went out.
  2. Students clearly had listened to all 30 pieces.
  3. Students did not choose the two shortest or easiest works in the catalog. Instead, they chose two of the most demanding, mature works.
  4. The essays about the works turned into a technical, emotional analysis of why we should play this or that work.
  5. Specifics about their parts and the other musicians were in each and every essay.
  6. No two students referred to the same music spots.
  7. We had so many different opinions we had to boil it down to a top five and then pick two.
  8. Attention to details has never been higher in my ensemble.

This assignment could be done many other ways—but not as easily. I now receive suggestions about music they would like to play every day. Did I mention that they were listening to great music recorded by great bands?!!

About the teacher:

Ted Scalzo is a music veteran educator who has taught at the high school and college levels. Throughout his career in the public schools, he has been an advocate of using technology to enhance and improve student and teacher instructional needs, and one of his greatest professional honors was being named an “Apple Distinguished Educator”. He currently is teaching at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York and also presents workshops on using technology in music classes. In his spare time, his creative energy is devoted to playing jazz trombone with several big bands on Long Island, and to photography.

Piece of the Week: New Winter and Holiday Music 2014 part 1



New Winter and Holiday Music Part 1

Doesn’t it always seem like you’ve barely gotten done with back to school season and Halloween events when suddenly you’ve got to pick out pieces for your Winter holiday concert? Don’t worry because we here at SmartMusic have got your back. We’re always on the lookout for new arrangements of classic holiday tunes as well as brand new Winter-themed pieces, and on the blog this week we’re featuring some of our new holiday releases for 2014.

As always, we keep our Holiday list well-stocked. To search for holiday pieces in your SmartMusic browser, just go to Find Music, click on Advanced Search Options, and select “Holiday and Patriotic” from the Genre menu.

Dream of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night), from Alfred Publishing Co.

“For the night is God’s cathedral” and the stars visit in “dreams of fireflies.” Look to the fabulous Trans-Siberian Orchestra show to add a bit of spice to your holiday concert. This piece will be greatly enhanced by adding a rhythm section and electric instruments, but sounds just as good with strings and percussion alone.

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc

Pachelbel’s Christmas from Hal Leonard Corp.

Pachelbel’s Christmas offers an unexpected twist on a well known piece, “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel. The canon progresses normally until the flutes and oboes enter with “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” This is the first of eight Christmas carols that are heard throughout the arrangement. Pachelbel’s Christmas offers a chance for the players to develop their sense of dynamic balance as everyone will get at least one opportunity to play the melody for one of the carols. Feel free to make adjustments to the dynamic markings as needed so that the carol melodies are heard clearly above the canon.

Audio provided by Hal Leonard Corporation.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

Feature Friday: How to Demonstrate SmartMusic to Parents



FeatureFriday_BlogHeader_Editable 2As a teacher, you know the importance of communicating with the parents of your students. Sharing with them your class goals, grading policies, and expectations helps everyone feel more comfortable and can alleviate possible misunderstandings throughout the year.

Teachers often ask how they can get more students to use SmartMusic for home practice. Many have found that one of the most powerful ways is to demonstrate SmartMusic to parents! Seeing SmartMusic in action makes it clear to everyone – even those parents who’ve never played an instrument – how SmartMusic can help every student. A demonstration like this can be more effective than communicating through a letter home or the students.

We have created a resource based on teacher suggestions that provides guidelines of how to demonstrate SmartMusic. Included are templates for communication to parents that you can edit for your own situation.

Click here to visit the main demonstration page where you can choose the following topics:

Only you as a professional can articulate all that SmartMusic is and how you will use it in your curriculum. Showing SmartMusic in person is a great way to share information, create excitement and build a sense of community!

For more resources on how to use SmartMusic in your curriculum, click here.

How have you successfully showed SmartMusic to parents? Click on the “Comments” link below to share.

Piece of the Week: The Rolling Stones



When the Rolling Stones began their careers as a scruffy English blues band playing gigs around London in 1962, none of them could have dreamed that the band would still be going strong fifty years later. The very idea of being a “rock star” was still a new concept in the early sixties, and most everyone at the time considered rock ‘n’ roll a flash-in-the-pan fad. Yet the music proved resilient, and The Rolling Stones went on to make some of the genres most enduring and best-known tunes, from 1965’s “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and 1969’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” to 1970s songs like “Brown Sugar” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” on into the 1980s with “Start Me Up” and “Street Fighting Man.” The band is still touring and recording to this day, and their enduring brand of blues-based rock ‘n’ roll formed the foundation for much of the rock music that came after them.

The Rolling Stones’ popularity spans at least three generations, and you may be surprised by how well their classic songs work as concert band and string orchestra pieces. Alfred Publishing has licensed and arranged several pieces of music by The Rolling Stones, and we invite you to check them out in SmartMusic.

Click Here for a full biography of The Rolling Stones.

Composition Notes: “Paint It, Black”

Released in 1966 by The Rolling Stones, this legendary rock tune is credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, reached number one in the United States and the U.K. in 1966, and is on the Billboard “Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Since its release, it has been performed by dozens of artists across the globe and has been featured in a wide variety of films and television programs.

Click here for more info on arranger Roland Barrett.

Audio Sample

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Composition Notes: “Rolling Stones On Tour,” arr. Patrick Roszell

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the legendary Rolling Stones are still going strong. This arrangement combines the dramatic “Paint It, Black,” the beautiful “Ruby Tuesday,” and the rocking “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Click here for more info on arranger Patrick Roszell.

Audio Sample: String Orchestra medley

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Audio Sample: Concert Band medley

Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Got an idea for a blog post? Contact us!

If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at gwoodworth@makemusic.com. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.

New Method Released in SmartMusic



A new method book, Tradition of Excellence Book 3, has been released in SmartMusic.

New Method Released

Title Comp/Arr/Lyr Publisher Music Type Pepper Level
Tradition of Excellence Book 3 Pearson, Bruce & Nowlin, Ryan Kjos Band Method ME

 

This method is available for the following instruments:

Flute Bb Trumpet
Oboe F Horn
Bassoon Trombone
Bb Clarinet Baritone/Euphonium B.C.
Eb Alto Clarinet Baritone/Euphonium T.C.
Bb Bass Clarinet Tuba
Eb Alto Saxophone Electric Bass
Bb Tenor Saxophone Mallet Percussion
Eb Baritone Saxophone Percussion

 

You can request a piece for a future SmartMusic release here.