Friday, November 29, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 6

It’s been over a week since I got home from the National AOSA Conference in Denver, and I’m still thinking about several wonderful people I met there, presenters who inspired me, and the overall feeling of being “home” in a place where everyone appreciates and creates quality musical experiences for children.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Back This Holiday Season

As we move into the holiday season, we often reflect on the many things in our lives for which we should be thankful. Giving to those who might be less fortunate is a great way to show our gratitude for good things in our lives, we just don't always know where to start.

We found a great blog post from Lorenz Educational Press called Giving Back This Holiday Season that includes some great resources for finding a way to give that is right for you.

And this year, Heritage Music Press and the entire Lorenz team have another great way to give back. We have teamed up with Operation Warm to help give coats to kids in need this winter. You can help make our donation even larger simply by following us on Facebook.

For every like that we receive on any of the Lorenz family Facebook pages from now until December 15, we will donate $1 to Operation Warm. And the best part... if we double the likes, we will double the discount!

Check out our any of our Facebook pages to find out more details and like us to donate!
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From the Lorenz family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and thank you for giving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 5

Denver the Mile High City… What a wonderful setting for the AOSA conference. What a great conference was put together by the leadership of AOSA. There were many insightful and inspiring presenters and presentations for those who attended. I was extremely excited and honored to be among those chosen to present.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 4

When passionate elementary music teachers get together, the energy overflows!  Regardless of setting, we tend to be enthusiastically passionate about helping our students achieve high levels of musicianship without leaving the spirit behind.  We want our singers, players, movers, composers, and listeners to develop the habits, dispositions and attitudes that keep music learning engaging, attractive, and inspiring. 

When that doesn’t happen—when students don’t respond to our instruction or participate at maximum levels—it can leave us confused and a bit frustrated. (That’s certainly the case with me!).

At the recent AOSA conference, several music teachers gathered around the topic of elementary choirs within the public school setting.  The familiar flow of energy was there, even at 8:00 am on the third day of the conference! It was obvious that the folks in attendance value artistic achievement, joyful classrooms, and full throttle participation from their kids. It was also obvious that they, like me, become confused and a tad frustrated when their desire isn’t necessarily reciprocated.

During and following the workshop, questions were posed related to singing/choral participation at their schools, particularly the boys. Since we want ALL of our students to participate willingly, happily, and joyfully in singing, these queries were stated with a desire to remove the confusion and frustration.  

For the purpose of this blog post, the focus is on boy participation….

“I have a chorus of 65 voices and only 8 of them are boys.  I can’t figure out why more boys won’t join!”


Then consider…

•Boys do not join unless they see other boys joining; they are not natural joiners.  They need to see and hear from boys who have joined, hopefully boys with a bit of “power”.
•Boys will (usually) not give up recess to be in chorus. It’s an unfair choice, and one I always lost (when trying to maintain chorus once the weather got nice outside).
•Boys respond to competition.  I normally posted the number of students who’d joined the chorus from each classroom, with some kind of “you win” to the class with the greatest number.  Some boys joined for that simple fact.
•Boys are picky about what they wear. I had three boys choose to not do choir because I required long pants for concerts.  These fellows wore basketball shorts only.
•Boys must engage in doing.  I remember talking to fellow about why he decided to join chorus, when it seemed he didn’t really enjoy singing in general music. He joined because I let him set up the sound system.  It was deemed a “manly job” that he could do before and after chorus.
•Boys often need a visible incentive.  I have purchased their participation with sundae tokens/certificates to DQ.  I know of other teachers who go to the dollar store to buy miscellaneous things.  Sometimes a teacher’s got to do what a teacher’s got to do!
•Boys in most of my schools “do” baseball starting in late March.  I chose to end chorus in early March.  They knew the commitment began in late September and ended in March.  Approximately 15 rehearsals, total.
•Boys are attracted to field trips, food, and fun: the 3 Fs.  BUT they will adhere to a high standard of sounding good.  They can be worked and worked hard and tend to respond when the field trips, food, and fun come as a reward/result of quality work. “Fun”, in this case, equals stimulating and injecting their natural competitiveness.

Boys have a “need for movement, hands-on projects, and experiential activities”.  A chorus rehearsal that finds students sitting in chairs the entire time “punishes boys for their natural tendencies to be active and competitive”.  (Helping Boys Succeed in School, Terry Neu and Rich Weinfeld, Prufrock Press Inc., Waco, TX: 2007).

Don’t let chorus become known as the part of the day when you sit totally still and listen to someone talk about beauty.  (The. Kiss. Of. Death.).

Let them sing with joy, with exuberance, with manly texts and energy!

Patricia Bourne teaches K–6 general music, fifth- and sixth-grade chorus, and a sixth-grade marimba ensemble at Canyon Creek Elementary in Bothell, WA. A frequent guest conductor and clinician, she has served on the editorial committee of General Music Today and recently authored Inside the Music Classroom: Teaching the Art with Heart. In 2010, she was named the Elementary Music Teacher of the Year by the Washington Music Educators Association. Patty received her BME from Murray State University, MME from the University of Oklahoma, and doctorate of education from Arizona State University.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 3

I fondly remember driving from Detroit, MI to Rochester, NY with my colleague to attend my first AOSA national conference. The three days of music-making and workshops was a key to my success in the elementary classroom, and even now as an editor for Heritage Music Press, I will occasionally find myself revisiting those well-worn session notes.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 2

I just returned home from the American Orff-Schulwerk Professional Development conference in Denver, Colorado. Without fail this conference always recharges my musical soul and reignites my love for teaching music. My head is still spinning, trying to process all of the ideas I gathered at the many great workshops I attended.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ubuntu and The Young Singers of the Palm Beaches

An anthropologist proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.
When he told them to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

Ubuntu! I am me because of you.

Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu explained:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntuthe essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out: it is for the whole of humanity. A person is a person by and because of other people.

We sometimes lose sight of the fact that real happiness does not come from how much money we have, the size of our house, or the clothes we wear. Real, lasting joy comes from our connection with other people.

That is what Young Singers of the Palm Beaches is about…interconnectedness…without barriers of any kind so that all can come together and create music.

Speaking of human connection…I met Mark Hayes over 25 years ago at a music conference in Wisconsin. It was at that time that I realized, although a world-renowned composer at that time, he was a down to earth, humble man. Years later I went to study composition with him for a few days in Kansas City, MS…his hometown. And last year, in deciding whom to commission a work for the Young Singers, I thought of Mark. I contacted him and he agreed to write a piece for us. You have to understand, Mark is a very busy man. As you have read his bio, he has over 850 choral pieces in print as well as vocal solo books and many piano solos and collections. He is conducting workshops throughout the world and will be conducting at Avery Fischer Hall at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, to name a few.

When I contacted him, I asked him to write a celebratory piece for our 10th anniversary. I had no text in mind. About a month later, I read this wonderful article about the tradition of Ubuntu. I contacted him about writing a piece with that theme and he stated that he had just discussed this same concept of Ubuntu with a friend that very week. He said it was providential. I agree!
We were honored to have Mark attend the premiere of Ubuntu at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. Mark spoke to our singers about his work on the piece and the importance of the concept of Ubuntu and singing one!
With the help of our choreographer, Sonja Kelly, Ubuntu opened and closed our 10th anniversary concert with 340 singers, dancers in bright outfits and streamers, joyous singers and a feeling of joy...being connected to others through song.

As stated by Mark on his intro page to the octavo, “To reach our full potential, we must stay connected to our fellow humans. Embrace the wisdom of ubuntu and let the power of our combined voices change the world.”

Thank you, Mark for continuing to write such beautiful, exciting and inspiring choral music.

D. Shawn Berry is Co-Founder, Artistic Director and Lead Conductor for the Young Singers of Palm Beaches. Under his supervision the organization has grown to 6 choirs with over 300 singers ranging in ages from 8 to 18 years old. The choirs participated in the 2006 Mozart Festival in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, Boston in 2005, at the Lincoln Center in New York City in 2007, and Walt Disney World Children in Harmony Choral Festival.

He graduated with honors from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, where he earned his BA and MA in Music Education. He worked in the public schools for 24 years in the areas of vocal and instrumental music with all grade levels.

While directing choirs in the public schools, Mr. Berry worked as the Director of Vocal Music at the nationally recognized Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, FL. While at Bak his choruses were selected to perform at the American Choral Directors National Convention in New York City, The Kennedy Center Festival of Gold, the American Choral Directors Southern Division Convention, as well as recording for the Silver Burdette Middle School Music Textbook Series. He has conducted honor and all-county choirs in Florida, West Virginia and North Carolina.

He was the recipient of the 2011 Clyde Fyfe Award performing artist award from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. He is an active composer and arranger and has numerous publications with a variety of publishing houses. His professional affiliations are ASCAP and ACDA. His compositions have been performed by choir at local levels and by choirs at ACDA National and by All State Choirs.

In addition to Young Singers, Mr. Berry is Manager of Arts and Cultural Education for the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County and has serves as pianist for the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches for 22 years. He is honored to be an accompanist for the Shawnee Press 75 year celebration at Carnegie Hall, Feb. 17, 2014.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

AOSA 2013 Conference Highlights - Part 1

My first national AOSA conference is one for the record books! The sessions I attended were inspiring, and I was continually impressed by the knowledge, intellect, and musicality of the presenters, as well as the wonderful organization and high quality of their presentations. AOSA president Chris Judah-Lauder told me I would be blown away, and I certainly was! Here are the highlights of the convention, based on the sessions I attended:

Monday, November 18, 2013

AOSA Highlights!

During this past week, music educators from around the country gathered for the National American Orff-Schulwerk Association conference in Denver, Colorado. This event featured numerous professional development clinics presented by master teachers, superb concerts by student ensembles, and an exhibit hall filled with resources to enrich the music classroom experience.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Did You Order This Concert To Go?

Pre-packaged Holiday Concerts for Entry-Level High School Choirs

selections from Heritage Music Press

As a follow-up to my previous blog, Pre-packaged Holiday Concerts for Progressive High School Choirs, I’ve included holiday concert options below for entry-level/developing high school choirs (freshman groups, “come one, come all” choirs, etc.). This blog, much like the previous one, consists of two different concert “packages.” You can feel free to take the concerts as is or mix and match based on what would work best for your choir and your program. Again, my main goal is to take the guess work out so that all you need to do is prepare and serve!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Birth of Music Madness

I hope that my K–6 colleagues around the country are enjoying teaching with our new collection of Interactive Whiteboard Games: Music Madness. My Bear Lake students certainly are having a good time dunking the teacher, catching some funky fish, trying not to get splatted by eggs, and blasting galactic goonies.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Creative Process—Lyrics

Words are my life! There are thousands of words and hundreds of thousands of combinations of words. The words are always my starting point when I sit down to write a song.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The More We Get Together

Helpful hints for having a great convention experience

It was a bitterly cold January day in Cleveland, Ohio. My toes were numb and even my warmest winter coat seemed like nothing against the strong wind that swept down from Canada and brought tiny snowflakes to our lakefront location. I was walking with a merry group of future music teachers on the way to my first professional convention. I had received a long list of advice, commentary, and warnings from my academic advisor and the older students in the program, but nothing could prepare me for the moment we burst into the lobby of the convention center and joined an already long line of participants cheerily waiting to receive their name badges. This looked nothing like what I had expected. The mood was relaxed, if a little chaotic, and every person there seemed friendlier and happier than anyone has a right to be on a cold and dreary Thursday at 8:00 in the morning.