by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –
Way back in August and September (you know – when it was warm) I wrote a couple of Behind the Scenes posts: “Picking Band Promotions” and “What I Listen For”. Both dealt with choosing new band titles to promote. The next step after the titles have been chosen is creating new write-ups for them. Since I am responsible for the write-ups for our young band selections, they are what we’re going to focus on in this post.
I’m sure you’ve encountered publisher write-ups that range from slight insight into thematic and programming aspects of pieces to virtually no real information at all. They vary in quality and detail from publisher to publisher, and generally don’t present much in the way of music teaching elements or skills required to perform a work. As music educators teaching developing players, you know that establishing a solid foundation and helping students achieve success is important. As a former band director and occasional private teacher, I can’t imagine trying to select pieces without much idea about what can be taught or what students need to be able to do to play them. This is why the Stanton’s band staff creates our own write-ups for every piece we promote!
With the young band titles, I try to strike a balance between musical skills, teaching opportunities, and programming uses and ideas while throwing in fun little twists that (hopefully) make them worth reading. Musically I tend to focus on rhythmic complexity, style, meter, key changes (if any), form (repeats, multiple endings, D.S., D.C., etc.), and aspects that address ensemble playing and musical growth. From a programming standpoint, I not only try to address the thematic idea behind a piece and any co-curricular applications (i.e. historical events), but how it can be used to create variety within a concert program for the teacher, the audience and the players. These aspects not only contribute to your students’ overall education, but enhance their musicianship as well. We’re always looking for pieces that stand out not just musically, but that are unique and interesting to present. Of course the challenge is to incorporate all these elements in a write-up that is informative, digestible, and short enough to fit in our print promotion (about 3 lines in length).
I hope this post gives you more insight into our process of selecting the best new music, and that it encourages you to spend some time with our promotions. If you haven’t, dig up your recent copy amongst the myriad paperwork, reeds, and publisher promotions on your desk and crack the cover. More than just presenting our “choices” I hope you find our write-ups useful in selecting new music, and helpful in your lesson planning and concert programming.
About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He has been providing write-ups for Stanton’s young band promotions since 2005. He hopes you find them informative, helpful, and (somewhat) entertaining!