Boost Rehearsal Attendance for Community & School Performing Ensembles

I was asked via a Twitter post (https://twitter.com/MusicEdTech) to provide some tips on how to boost attendance at community band rehearsals. I suppose these tips would hold true for any community-performing group that relies on volunteers for its organization and even applies to school organizations. If you really think about it, school music ensembles are really made up of volunteers. If the kids don’t take the class as an elective, there is no ensemble. Here’s a quick little post expanding my thoughts and ideas from my Twitter reply.

I conducted a community opera chorus for three years, guest conducted a few community operas, orchestras & bands and I am the Music Director of a community band for the last six years. Community organizations can be challenging to say the least! Increasing and maintaining high attendance numbers at rehearsals can not only make or break a performance, but also is the key to the stability of the organization. There are so many factors that go into building a stable core of performers all dedicated to the same goal. Each community will have it’s own culture and concerns. Here are my top three thoughts that I believe apply to most performing organizations.

1) Schedule rehearsals around the performance, not weekly.

There is an old established culture with community organizations around weekly rehearsals.  Maybe it’s because some community groups are also college organizations or maybe it’s just a night that people think works. Personally, I don’t find this pattern effective. Even a college/community group that needs to follow the universities class schedule might examine this practice. When I first started conducting the Sound Beach Community Band, we had weekly rehearsals. Every whatever-the-day-of-the-week, we had a rehearsal that culminated in a performance every several weeks. I remember having 8 – 12 people at a rehearsal and the very next week, a new set of 8 – 12 people. That’s not a rehearsal, that’s a group lesson. For those Read the rest of this entry »

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Student Wins MENC/NSBA Electronic Music Composition Contest

For the second year in a row, one of my student’s has won First Place in the MENC (Music Educators National Conference)/NSBA (National School Board Association) Electronic Music Composition Talent Search in the High School Division.

Senior Ricco Burkhardt’s piece Does Murder Sleep was conceived and influence by the Shakespeare quote from Macbeth and was chosen as this year’s winner from amongst 200 entries into this national competition. Congratulations to Ricco for writing a fantastic piece and for winning this distinguished honor.

As Ricco’s essay states:

“The title of my piece is the key to understanding what I have created. The title is a line from the story of Macbeth: “Macbeth shall sleep no more. Macbeth does murder sleep.” I chose to reference the story of Macbeth because my piece tells a similar tail. The title represents a struggle through darkness, confusion and insanity in search of happiness. I thought that creating a story instead of just a song was a great way to break away from traditional song structure. I also wanted my piece to be something creepy, unsettling and multi-layered. Something that almost had to be listened to several times before being fully understood. I did not, however, want to make it too complex and difficult to listen to. Finding a balance between the two was by far the greatest challenge during composition.”

You can view a screen cast of Ricco’s piece below. It was composed using Logic 8 on an iMac G5 using an M-Audio Keystation 61es as MIDI entry. The audio vocal was inserted and manipulated by Ricco.

To hear Ricco’s piece and a list of past winners and their music, please visit:

http://www.menc.org/news/view/2010-nsba-student-electronic-music-composition-talent-search-winners

For more information on the contest, please visit:

http://www.menc.org/gp/nsba-student-electronic-music-composition-talent-search

Greenwich High School students have placed in the top two for the last three years:

2008 2nd Place – Kenny Bloom

2009 1st Place – Emily Boyer

2010 1st Place – Ricco Burkhardt

Student wins Composition Competition Sponsored by Northeastern University

I am very proud to announce that one of my students, Kanki Suzuki, came in First Place in the Electronic Music Composers Competition for High School Students in the Northeast sponsored by Northeastern University’s Music Technology Department.  Kanki’s piece was chosen as the top piece in this year’s competition from amongst almost 100 pieces. Kanki is a sophomore at Greenwich High School and has only been in my classes since September. Congratulations Kanki!

To hear Kanki’s piece, please visit Northeastern University’s site:

http://www.musictech.neu.edu/05_compcontest_winners.html

For more about their annual competition, please visit:

http://www.musictech.neu.edu/05_compcontest.html