Site Stats: Newsletter membership has climbed to just under 1200. I have seriously cut back on the accessibility of this newsletter list, as I am getting lots of people spamming links on their profile page who aren't really interested in my newsletter content. Despite multiple attempts to address this with my web host, they continue to ignore me. The site had just under 10,000 unique visitors in March, totaling over 5 days of time spent on the site. Thank you to everyone who continues to read and share what I have to offer.
Bandwidth Increase: I had a happy problem in the third week of February - my website exceeded its 5 GB monthly bandwidth allowance, so I had to upgrade the site to the enhanced package. Ah, the price of success!
Partners In Online Learning: On March 28th, Mark Burke, CEO of ViaAcademies, paid a visit to my school, met with school administration, and observed my middle school strings class. Mark and I are acquaintences who met 13 years ago when I replaced him as the band director at my first teaching job. I have been working for ViaAcademies as their contracted instructor for their online Exploring Music with Garage Band and Exploring Music with Mixcraft courses, and now my cyber charter school is partnering with his company to incorporate his current online course offerings for our Remote Access program at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts and to collaborate on designing new courses to add to our offerings. This is a win-win for both institutions, and I look forward to the relationship as it develops.
In-Service Presentation Materials: At the beginning of March, I served as a clinician for PMEA District 3 during their District Jazz Band Festival. The presentation was entitled 21st Century Resources for Music Educators and had 90 minutes of great information. You can view the entire presentation and materials here.
New Clinics Page: With the completion of a guest speaker appearance in January and this most recent in-service presentation in March, I am being contacted to serve as a guest speaker and clinican on a more regular basis. To better serve this demand, I have created a new clinics page that features all of the topics I present and services I render. The topics I present fall under categories such as technology integration, marching band techniques, music pedagogy and practice techniques, and music advocacy and curriculum design. There are thirty topics that can be combined in any way to create a customized presentation. Take a look at the new Clinics page and please recommend me to your colleagues and administrators.
New Podcast Format: My first podcast was back in October of 2010. I took a break from it after that, unsure of the direction I wanted to move with a podcast. At the end of January, I began a new format for the podcasts that will continue now until I change my mind! My goal is to produce two podcasts a month, alternating between a "current events" episode and a guest interview episode. So far, I have interviewed Janet Horvath, musician and author, and David H. Thomas, musician and blogger. Every podcast also features original music composed by yours truly, with links to download free pdf copies of the score and mp3s of the music. Please visit the podcast page to check out the current episodes and subscribe.
New Review - Theta Music Trainer: There is a fantastic new website that opened in October of 2010. Theta Music Trainer features ear training games designed for middle school students and up. These games are engaging and extremely varied in rigor, right up to professional level. Read the review here. Or, sign up for a free account here.
Projects in the Works: Upcoming reviews of JoyTunes music education gaming software and Value Vocals a cappella arranging service. Additionally, I'll be interviewing folk musician John McCutcheon and Jazz Educator Caleb Chapman for future podcasts.
Poke the Box by Seth Godin is already #43 on Amazon's book list after only being out 15 days. I discovered Seth Godin about six months ago. He is one of the most widely read bloggers in the English language and is the author of twelve books. I got Godin's most recent previous book, Linchpin, for Christmas this year and could not put it down. Seth has got his finger on the pulse of the emerging economy of the post-industrial era, and he shares that wisdom with the world for practically nothing. Poke the Box is actually selling in hardback right now for $7.25! When was the last time you saw a hardback book for under $10?
Pick up a copy here.
Pennsylvania House Bill 855 Calls For Teacher Furloughs: And so it begins in Pennsylvania. House Bill 855 was put before the education committee on March 1st and will go to vote this coming March 9th. It will allow school boards to suspend teachers' pay for "economic reasons" without requiring them to explore other cost-cutting measures. Read more.
Why An "A" Is Not Enough - A Demonstration Of The Value Of Performing Music: This video features a high school honors band performing a portion of Frank Ticheli's setting of the American folk song "Shenandoah". First, the conductor has the band play the excerpt as it is written on the page, then he has them play it with 90% of the sounds correct (an "A" as far as report cards and tests are concerned). Finally, they play the excerpt as it is written, but with emotional expressiveness that only a live performing ensemble can deliver. View the video.
Airline Travel And New Orleans: At the beginning of January, I took a trip to New Orleans to participate in a panel discussion at the Jazz Education Network Conference. Here are my insights on the current state of airline travel and the sights and sounds of the Big Easy. Read more.
What Is A Good Keyboard To Practice On?: Although keyboards have improved remarkably over the years to match their acoustic counterparts, nothing beats a good old upright or baby grand for developing as far as the weight and feel of the keys. The one big disadvantage, of course, is that acoustics take up a lot of space. You simply can’t take them wherever you go, which can make it difficult to stay in practice.The obvious alternative, of course, are keyboards. The problem is there are so many to choose from and so many of them come attached to price tags a little too steep for non-professionals. Read more.
Guest Conductor Tip: Name Tags For The Ensemble: If you ever find yourself in the position of serving as a guest conductor for an honors band festival, an onstage clinic for an orchestra, or other event where you are working with an ensemble of strangers for an extended period of time, here's a quick tip. Read more.
Teaching Jazz Improvisation to the Absolute Beginner: One of the things that many music teachers struggle with is a way to teach jazz improvisation to beginners. In some cases, this is because the teacher themself has limited experience with jazz improvisation themself. Jazz improvisation, or improvisation of any kind, is an important facet of performing music that should be experienced by every performer. It is not, however, something that a beginner o.... Read more
Until next time,
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