Challenging for the Chair

There is always a battle for first chair, even at the tender age of eleven. At that age, it is quite validating to be considered the best — this is what the students at my middle school would brag about. However, when I was in eighth grade all the music teachers at my school decided to eliminate the “chair” system in which the students would compete for the seat in which the supposedly best instrumentalist would sit and get to play all the solos. The question is: are chair competitions effective and optimal for middle and high school ensembles? Continue reading “Challenging for the Chair”

How to Support

There are so many benefits to music education, and there are so many wonderful programs across the country creating safe havens for students of all backgrounds. However, many of these programs are underfunded and in danger of collapsing. On top of this, rumors have been circulating in the media since President Trump’s inauguration that he is considering cutting the small 0.003% of the federal budget that is dedicated to the National Endowment for the Arts and instead redirecting it towards military spending. It is of utmost importance to protect these programs, but the question is: how? Continue reading “How to Support”

Students: Be Prepared

reeds-and-cork-greaseMusic classes are often stimulating and fun, but if one is not prepared, they can be hard to get through. I cannot begin to tell you how many times — from fourth grade up until college marching band last semester — I have been approached by a peer in complete and utter distress: “Do you have an extra reed? I’ll pay you back tomorrow, I promise!” Sometimes people forget valve oil, and sometimes they forget their instruments entirely, so here we will cover what students need for class and how to prevent oneself from forgetting these items. Continue reading “Students: Be Prepared”

Incorporating Pop Culture

Josh Dun Playing Trumpet at SAP CenterOver the weekend I attended a Twenty One Pilots concert. How does an eclectic and wildly popular alternative band relate to music education? Well, while playing their song, “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV,” drummer Josh Dun put down his drum sticks and pulled a trumpet out from behind his kit, and then stood up and played the chorus. It was not any sort of amazing trumpet solo, and for most concertgoers it was just another cool example of how versatile this band is. However, for kids in their school bands, this could have been some sort of a monumental moment. Continue reading “Incorporating Pop Culture”

Band at Simonds Elementary School

Outside the LibraryIt was a dark and stormy night, but this isn’t some dark and cliche horror story: it is one of laughter and learning. Once a week at 6:45 pm at Simonds Elementary School, students of various ages meet up and hold band classes. High schoolers lead these classes of fourth and fifth graders, teaching them how to play specific instruments and read sheet music. Despite the downpour on this one night, all these kids could be seen happily bounding to their designated classrooms, their giggling echoing through the hallways and competing with the sound of the pounding rain. Continue reading “Band at Simonds Elementary School”

Give the Kids Your Trust

It all starts with a single instrument. Some people start taking piano lessons because their parents forced them to when they were five years old, other people pick up a guitar when they discover Green Day in middle school, and still others fall in love with singing. There are a multitude of ways in which people are introduced to music, but they often remember that introduction forever, as it influences the role music plays in their lives. Because this can be such a pivotal moment for a person, one must go about this introduction very carefully.
Continue reading “Give the Kids Your Trust”