An Open Letter to Parents of Future Band and Orchestra Students

Congratulations! Your child has chosen to start band or strings class this fall! This is exciting! But naturally, you are also apprehensive – “How much will this cost?” “Will my child like it?” “How do we choose the right instrument?” “Will my child stick with it? After all, he’s tried karate, gymnastics, piano, and soccer ... and quit them all.”  “Does my child even have any musical ability?”

Why Mouthpiece Test?

One of the best ways to help a band director to ensure his new students’ success in band, and to ensure they stay in band, is to do careful and detailed mouthpiece testing, or “play testing,” as some retailers call it. If you take your time to do this, you will begin to build relationships with the beginning students and their parents, and help your band program a take a huge step forward at the same time.

Helping students get what they really want - and need

Please understand, what parents want, what friends play, even what kids “want” (i.e. without ever even holding an instrument) are not always the best choices. Please take the time to do a real testing/fitting. If you are unsure how to do this, your local school music dealer should be able to help. If a child is unsure about band (or strings) and every practice session is uncomfortable, then we may well lose a child who could have been a wonderful asset to our ensemble if the proper instrument had been chosen.

Music Teacher's Guide to Wrapping Up the School Year - Alfred Music

By Karen Farnum Surmani | April 23, 2018

Article from Alfred Music

As the school year comes to a close, music teachers are making end-of-the-year lists and checking them twice before they head off into the summer sun. No matter what level you teach, or whether you have choral, band, or general music students, many end-of-the-year duties tend to be universal. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Audition next year’s ensemble personnel. This way you know their strengths and can choose music and performance opportunities that will highlight them. Having the luxury of time away during the summer to dream of what you’ll do with those ensembles next year can be inspiring.

2. Ask students to give advice to incoming students. This can bolster the newbies’ confidence and help ease their transition into your program. Likewise, ask your students which learning activities were their favorites. You might be surprised at the responses!

3. Research and consider writing and submitting grant proposals to bolster or spiff up your program. Many professional organizations, foundations, and corporations sponsor grants. A simple internet search of “music program grants” will bring up several results to get you started.

4. Take inventory, finalize budget requests, and order supplies for next year. Replenish the consumables, but also try to order some new things to use, whether it be music, books, posters, or instruments. If you can consistently challenge yourself by trying out some cool, innovative materials or techniques, it will help keep teaching fresh and fun for you, which in turn will benefit your students.

5. Clean instruments and materials before storing them in a safe place for the summer. If possible, host a cleaning afternoon and enlist students to help. If there are items that need to be repaired, arrange to have that done over the summer.

6. Clean and organize your classroom. File away music, lesson plans, concert programs, worksheets, and other materials. Get rid of any extra supplies or resources that are outdated or just plain clutter so you can return to an ordered work space in the fall.

7. Take some time to reflect on the past year and think about what worked and what didn’t work in your performances or general instruction program. Some ideas to consider:

  • What would you like to do differently next year?
  • How can you make things more enjoyable for you or the students?
  • Were you happy with your classroom management style?
  • Do you want to include time for some brief music theory or music history instruction in your classroom?
  • How can you increase recruitment?
  • What was a favorite lesson or moment?

For instance, perhaps it was pure magic to add American Sign Language (ASL) to a particular group’s performance—or that new piece was fabulous but could have benefited from more rehearsal time—or maybe you need to remember to take time to rehearse walking on and off stage with next year’s group to avoid a repeat of the stampede from this year. Make some notes about both the highs and lows of the past year and write down suggestions to yourself to read in the fall, because you are likely to forget in the glow and flurry of the new school year.

8. Say goodbye to colleagues and the office staff, then book that relaxing vacation and say hello to summer!

January Vocal Shows at the Peace Center

Start the month off with a recital from acclaimed mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught. Experience a range of choir pieces from medieval chanting to recent hits with New York Polyphony. Then, end the month with contemporary a cappella and beatboxing in GOBSMACKED!

Free master class opportunities to observe area students work with visiting artists are available for select performances.

To get $15 student tickets or learn more about master classes, please contact us.

Tara Erraught: In Recital
January 12 at 7 PM • Gunter Theatre | $45
Free Master Class on January 11 at 5 PM
Acclaimed for her rich voice, expansive range, and dynamic stage presence, Irish-born mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught enjoys an ever-growing international career and a wide operatic repertoire.

New York Polyphony
January 20 at 8 PM • Gunter Theatre | $45
Free Master Class on January 20 at 3 PM
“Singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure” (The New Yorker), two-time Grammy® nominated New York Polyphony gives vibrant, modern voice to repertoire ranging from Gregorian chant to cutting-edge compositions.

January 22 at 7:30 PM • Peace Concert Hall | $15-$35
Featuring reigning world-champion beatboxer Ball-Zee and an international cast of world-class vocalists,GOBSMACKED! weaves through all forms of a cappella, from traditional street corner harmonies to cutting edge, multi-track live looping.

864.467.3032  •

7 Things You’ll be Judged on During College Music Auditions

College professors will gather as much information about prospective students as possible to determine if the student will be a good fit for their program. For students, the college audition process can be a scary endeavor with a lot of unknowns. The following areas of consideration are designed to help you better understand the audition process more fully and are presented in no particular order:

Finding the Perfect Flute at the Perfect Price

Have you ever tried to saw wood with a dull saw blade? Or tried to use a butter knife instead of a screwdriver?

While the job may get done, how much energy was wasted, and how much frustration ensued? This is what your young band student may be experiencing as he or she progresses, if his or her instrument is not appropriate for the player’s level.

Music Educators: Back To School 2017

A new school year, and with it the long days setting drill on the hot pavement, the squeaks and splats of new beginners, and the craziness of back to school time. But we also see the camaraderie grow within those marching ranks, and the excitement on the faces of those new beginners when they see their new instruments for the first time. This is what keeps us coming back year after year. Not only coming back, but looking forward to doing what we love best - teaching music.

Leenman, SC Businesswoman Awarded 2017 She Rocks! Award

ANAHEIM, CA — Tracy E. Leenman, owner of Musical Innovations of Greenville, SC, has been named winner of the 2017 She Rocks Eneterprise Award by the Women’s International Music Network (WiMN). The award was presented on January 20, 2017, in Anaheim, CA, as part of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) annual winter Trade Show. One of the most prestigious and recognized events honoring women in the music industry today, the She Rocks Awards pay tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry.