Leland High School’s Big Band and Orchestra

Mr. Rian Rodriguez is the music director at Leland High School, and tonight he led both the school’s big band and orchestra through thoroughly entertaining sets that featured some Michael Jackson, marimba, Mozart, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The students had clearly worked hard to prepare for this performance, and they were also clearly having fun with the dynamic repertoire. Continue reading “Leland High School’s Big Band and Orchestra”

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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”

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”