With over 10, 000 choral and instrumental titles in print, high-quality hymnal recordings, and an extensive range of music education resources, GIA Publications offers beautifully scored music across both sacred and secular areas. Alec Harris, president of GIA, took some time to speak with us about the exciting work GIA is doing and what makes the company unique.
1. Tell us a little bit about GIA Publications! How did GIA get started? What sets you apart from other publishers?
GIA is a family-owned music publishing business with four divisions: music education, sacred music, choral music via our Walton division, and distribution. Founded in 1941 and in Chicago since 1967, we strive to innovate in everything we publish. GIA started as a correspondence course teaching church choir directors how to sing Gregorian Chant. Our name at the time was the Gregorian Institute of America. When Ed Harris purchased the company in 1967, he significantly broadened the mission of the company and changed the name to the acronym GIA.
2. What major catalogs or brands do you produce or distribute?
We publish the Habits series for instrumental music, including strings. The books in our Teaching Music through Performance series for band, orchestra, choir, and jazz have been best sellers for 20 years. We publish choral music for schools and community choirs under the Walton Music name (Walton joined GIA about seven years ago), including works by composers Ola Gjeilo, Eric Whitacre, and Susan LaBarr. In additon, we publish liturgical music from Marty Haugen, the Taizé Community, the Iona Community, and Michael Joncas. And we publish hymnals such as Gather, Worship, Oramos Cantando, and the African American Heritage Hymnal as well as subscription-based resources for Catholic churches, including the Seasonal Missalette, We Celebrate, and Celebremos. GIA also co-owns a church music licensing service, ONE LICENSE. In 2020, Meredith Music became part of the GIA family, with its wonderful publications for percussionists and beyond.
3. What do you look for in the works that you publish?
Of course, the answer really depends on the division but we always seek the highest quality publications we can find, beautifully scored, with great texts (if appropriate). We seek unique compositional voices as we look at the world we are in and the trends we are seeing, and try to respond proactively with our publications.
4. How can composers become a part of GIA?
It’s easy to submit a score or music education resource for consideration. Visit: giamusic.com/submissions or waltonmusic.com for our submissions guidelines. We do encourage composers to become familiar with our publications via our website before they submit in order to determine for themselves if what they have written is a good fit for us.
5. What are some of the challenges in music education that GIA hopes to help educators overcome?
Of course, the biggest challenge has been the pandemic. With music teaching and learning, as well as with worship, we are all coping with distance learning techniques, virtual concerts, and keeping our kids engaged. As we emerge from the pandemic, I can only hope that kids will flood back into traditional school music programs—yet, I believe we have created online and digital resources that will prove relevant and useful beyond pandemic restrictions. We want to help teachers help their students understand what it is to be musical both in the classroom and at home. But even more, we are convinced that addressing both leadership development and social emotional learning is essential in the 21st Century classroom, and we are actively creating resources in these areas as well, specifically for music teachers.
6. GIA publishes the incredibly popular Habits series, which SmartMusic is excited to have as part of our catalog. How many books are currently a part of the series? Who is this series for? What can performers and educators hope to gain from this series?
The Habits series is singularly devoted to all aspects of student music-making, musicianship, collaboration, and teacher education, at all levels.
There are three student method books for band and two for strings—all proudly part of SmartMusic: Habits of a Successful Beginner Band Musician (brand new!), Habits of a Successful Middle School Musician, and Habits of a Successful Musician (for high school students).
There are two method books for strings: Habits of a Successful Middle Level String Musician, and Habits of a Successful String Musician. Our choral book is, of course, Habits of a Successful Choral Musician.
Another resource in the Habits series is on student leadership for band, choir, and orchestra titled, Pathway to Success by Tim Lautzenheiser and Scott Rush. This sequential resource is geared toward creating a culture of excellence and is designed to connect teachers and students in a significant way through music, love, passion, vision, and purpose.
There are also seven pedagogical books for music educators in the series, which include: Habits of a Successful Band Director, The Evolution of a Successful Band Director, Habits of a Significant Band Director, Habits of a Successful Middle School Band Director, Quality of Life Habits of a Successful Band Director, Habits of a Successful Choir Director, and Habits of a Successful Orchestra Director.
7. What does the future look like for GIA? Any big initiatives or projects coming up that you’d like to share?
We are always working on projects! In our sacred music division, we will publish a hymnal, Gather, Fourth Edition, in the fall of 2021 that has been more than two years in the making. In our music education division, we are working on a beginning string book in the Habits series. Never a dull moment, for sure!
8. What is it like being a print publisher in an ever-evolving, digital world? What tools and outlets have you utilized to stay current?
Our world has changed dramatically, as you might imagine. We don’t see ourselves as exclusively a print publisher anymore. Everything we create needs a digital component, and the digital piece needs to be conceived of from the outset. What is most important is the underlying content. We can share it out both physically and digitally, in whatever way works best for the folks who wish to use it.
9. In addition to Habits, what types of titles are available from GIA in SmartMusic and what do you hope to see added in the future?
We’ve contributed recordings in our Teaching Music through Performance series for Band and Orchestra and we continue to explore ways to share our choral repertoire. SmartMusic is a technology thousands of teachers and students have come to rely on. As we publish new music, there is no doubt we need to keep SmartMusic in mind.