– Edward H. Rensi, President and Chief Operation Officer, U.S.A. McDonald's Corporation
“It is our job, as parents, educators, and friends, to see that our young people have the opportunity to attain the thorough education that will prepare them for the future. Much of that education takes place in the classroom. We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. In addition to learning the valuable lesson that it takes hard work to achieve success, no matter what the arena, music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful living.”
– Edward H. Rensi, President and Chief Operation Officer, U.S.A. McDonald's Corporation
“It [music education] is terribly important, extremely important -- because when you are a child, you are in a receptive age... In high schools, public schools -- that's where they must have the best influence, the first influence, which will go through their whole life.”
– Eugene Ormandy, conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra
“Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.”
– Jim Henson, television producer and puppeteer
Yesterday in my mind's eye, I saw a group of kids. They were about 14 years old and it was the summer before their first year of high school. They were standing in a band room nervous and curious. They were waiting for something that they thought would give them an avenue to new friends and involvement in a school activity. They knew they would never make a sports team and they weren't cheerleader material. Some of them were overweight. Some of them struggled with popularity, because they were shy or different. They made good grades and many were considered geeks. Many of them were bullied in middle school. They stood in this band room as an incoming class of freshmen holding their flute and trumpet cases. Some of them were holding a flag pole for the first time in their entire lives wondering what this "thing" was and some for the first time were about to hit a drum with a pair of sticks. On this special day, their lives were about to change because on this day, they would start their very first marching band practice. On this day, they would start a journey that would lead them down a path where they would meet the people they would spend countless hours with, as well as share their laughter and their tears. On this day they would begin to live a life many can only dream of and this journey will be called...community
Community. It's the gift I wish I could give every child in the world. We are lacking it. We are a world of people fighting our personal apathy and turning a blind eye to a world that is bleeding. We are a world finding reasons to fight and reasons to turn away from our fellow man. Those kids who are starting their first day of practice are about to learn about how to save the world although they don't know it. They are about to learn about passion and learn about community. Marching band is going to give them all of this and it's going to change their lives forever.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I believe that pageantry can change the world. I'm an idealist. I always have been. I'm the person that everyone loves to hate because I really do want to do what the old Coke commercial says and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I believe in pageantry. I believe in what it teaches kids and the number of kids we can reach in any given school year is more than any other activity. In many schools, the band reaches more kids than all the other activities combined. More than anything though, I believe in the passion that is generated in a person as they go through the course of a season. The skills they learn are lifelong skills and the people they meet will stay with them forever.
Pageantry ignites a fire in a person. If only for a brief moment in time, it makes a child believe in themselves and the community that supports them. It's a microcosm of the perfect world. In a perfect world, in Shelba's perfect world, community takes precedence over the individual. In my community the adults look out for kids that aren't even their own. The kids have a safe place to "hang out" while getting an education and learning new life skills. The adults in this community are educated and with this education they pass their wisdom on to the youth they mentor. Youth are seen as a participant in this community and not a victim of it. The youth are given responsibilities and held to a standard of those responsibilities. They aren't abused and they aren't coddled. The effort of the individual is meant to support the larger group and not to support one's own ego or self congratulatory personality.
In the microcosm of pageantry, the adults and the youth are one. The failures, the negativity, and the egotistical actions of one has drastic impact on the whole. The counter to that is the successes, the positivity, and the charitable actions of one can change the whole for the good and forever. It's people discovering teamwork and hard work. It's children learning that giving up on the group is NOT AN OPTION.
In our community called pageantry, the kids are learning about responsibility. They are learning how to take care of others. They are planning and creating. Their imagination's are on fire! They are learning to win with grace and lose with a desire to keep pushing forward. Emotions are shared freely and hugs are given often. Adults admit that they have much to learn and the youth are there to teach them. Patience is practiced often and lessons are learned when that patience is given away without thought. In this community; parents, teachers, and children all play a role in the support of the bigger picture and respect for all is the cornerstone to success. In this world kids learn to take care of their environment and "leave things better than they found it." They learn to be punctual with a simple phrase, "Early is on time and on time is late." They will get fresh air and exercise. Someone will care if they go home at night and will work to make sure they keep up with their studies. This community is growing the children of tomorrow and everyone is playing a part.
Diversity is the driving force of this community. Everyone is accepted.
Gay? No problem.
Woman? Leaders rise from both sexes.
Black? Really? We don't see color.
Disabled? We'll find a place for you.
Don't speak english? Music and dance are the language we speak.
Deaf? Blind? Yep. Join us. You will teach us how to listen to music in new dimensions.
Young? This activity was made for you.
Old? We need your wisdom.
This is a world where acceptance is not just practiced, but expected.
This world of pageantry is the world John Lennon spoke about. It's about people living for the day and living life in peace. When these kids leave their pageantry experience they have learned so much more than music. They have learned what "community" should look like and act like. It is a group of people working toward one goal, struggling together day to day and not leaving anyone behind. To me, there is no question as to why so many of us have stuck around for so long. Many of us have stated that we would rather be on the field or in the gym isolated from the real world, because our world of pageantry is where our souls feel most at home. It's safe and it's the community that we long to see.
Kids all over the country will enter this world of pageantry for the first time in the next few weeks. The doors of life are about to open. Let's make sure to support them and teach them well. Let's reach out to our community and teach those who don't know what it is all about so they see more than just a halftime show. Let us seek to support the families who can't afford the opportunity to participate. Let's strive to educate. We can do more than win band contests. We can change the world.
As we start a new marching band season I encourage all of you reading this to give back to your community. Sponsor a kid. Pay their dues or a partial amount of their dues. Buy the local marching band a set of flags. Buy some drum sticks. Offer to pay for one sabre or the repair fees on one instrument. If nothing else, go to a show and cheer. Buy concessions. Support the kids and support their passion. A donation that is specific in nature lets the music program you are donating to know how important your gift is and allows the kids to see how your kind gift was used for them. Let's give back to them everything that was given to us and re-vision our community.
Posted by Shelba Waldron at Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Debbie Cavalier, Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee College of Music, shares with Berklee's Dean of the Performance Division Matt Marvuglio some of the reasons why teaching music in schools is still a relevant and important educational goal. Cavalier also discusses some of the resources available to music educators who wish to advocate on behalf of music education and to strengthen their own teaching abilities.
This aired on PBS NewsHour on February 24, 2012; it was produced by the Learning Matters group, specifically Cat McGrath and John Merrow. It looks at the Harmony Program out of CUNY in NYC, which provides after-school music education to under-privileged children. That program is modeled off El Sistema, a famed Venezuelan program of the same nature. For more resources on all this, consult learningmatters.tv.
Editor's note: Vince DiFiore plays trumpet in the band CAKE, which is currently touring the U.S. and Europe. The band has teamed up with the US Scholastic Band Association (USSBA) for "The Federal Funding March," a nationwide contest for high school and college marching bands.
(CNN) -- During high school, I was a consistent member of the symphonic band. The band director regularly called on me to sight-read daily rhythm exercises for the rest of the class and, more significantly, gave me the honor of conducting one of our compositions for the annual fall concert.
That leadership experience was a milestone and will stay with me for a lifetime.
Still, I fell short of joining the marching band.
When a trumpeter friend from middle school invited me to be a guest player in a pep band for a basketball game at a nearby high school where most of my classmates from eighth grade had attended, I realized the excitement involved in that music.
This scaled-down version of the marching band was loud and impactful in the reverberating gym, and at that moment, it was clear what I had been missing out on.The camaraderie alone was incredibly uplifting.
My high school band teacher's name was John McRae. Now, as the trumpeter for the band CAKE, I work with songwriter John McCrea. Parallels can be constructed beyond the similar names.
Certainly, it could be said that the world of rock shares many of the same elements as the high school society: cliques, direct attention to individual issues of attitude adjustment and, most importantly, the frequent notion of liberating oneself.
Basically, both realms share themes that are recurrent throughout an entire lifetime. During high school, however, these issues face our promising citizens in an abrupt and acute way.
That sense of belonging, having a healthy perspective on weighty issues and the ability to self-individuate may be never fully realized, even in a lifetime. What is necessary in the microsociety of high school is a sturdy vessel in which to navigate a safe and fulfilling journey to the next transition.
In high school, music programs are that vehicle.
Our drummer, Paulo Baldi, for instance, lived in three states as a teenager (Colorado, New Mexico and Washington) while attending four different high schools. Joining the marching band in each unfamiliar place helped to connect his high school experience. He made friends through each transition, and it made comfortable what could have otherwise been an alienating experience.
Gabriel Nelson, the bassist for CAKE, was in jazz ensemble at Sacramento High School. He learned a great deal there, at a critical time in his life.
After excelling at music theory in a piano class, he was recruited into the school's accomplished jazz band, as it needed a competent bass player. Gabriel and his friends in that group later went on to form bands together outside of school.
Paulo Baldi testifies that, "Marching band in particular is the savior for people who may or may not be athletic. Marching band is music, memorization, eye-hand coordination and good for your posture. It may hurt to be told your paradiddles suck, but it builds character. It's a team sport. You create friendships that become your buddies for life. High school music is something focused to do. You don't have to be great to belong, and members immediately have something in common."
Aside from the social benefits, students in high school music programs have higher test scores and cognitive development. A U.S. Department of Education study found that those who reported consistent involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. (This observation holds regardless of students' socioeconomic status.)
Additionally, students who learn to play an instrument develop a greater language capacity and a greater ability to learn a new language. In another context, it is invaluable to gain a wider perspective on cultural history by being exposed to centuries of our rich cultural heritage.
When the track "Federal Funding" (from CAKE's new album "Showroom of Compassion") was completed, there was something about it that made it sound like a ready-made marching band arrangement.
The topic of the song (the delicate issue of applying for federal grants and receiving favors from friends in high places), in the hands of CAKE, became a romp that was full of syncopation, melodies and counterparts, with a mean and bouncy rhythm section.
At our studio in Sacramento, California, as the dust hadn't quite settled after completing our album, I returned to remove all the electric instruments and the drum kit from the session, then recorded my friends in town who had played saxophone, tuba and drums in various marching bands around northern California. The result is the "Federal Funding March," an ode to the epic marching band sound.
On a fall weekend in junior high, my dad took me to see a marching band parade in Long Beach, California. We sat in the VIP grandstand, shoulder to shoulder, with Iron Eyes Cody, the actor who portrayed the tearful witness to roadside littering in the public service announcement from the '70s. All the marching bands were playing "Star Wars" that year.
It is our hope that every band will be playing the "Federal Funding March" next year. Band directors, we're offering the charts for free, and we guarantee that you, and your players, will gladly accept it into your repertoire.
Best wishes for an exceptional marching band season next year.
by Mir Kamin
I never had any illusions that my kids were going to be “cool” or “popular;” I’ve met their parents, and… yeah, the deck was stacked against them from the beginning. Plus I’m a firm believer in the notion of doing what you love, surrounding yourself with a few trusted compadres, and not worrying about the rest of it. This means I shouldn’t have been surprised when marching band first took over our lives and brought along so many fantastic benefits, but I never claimed to be all that swift on the uptake.
If you’re hesitating—or if your teenager is hesitating--don’t. Trust me, marching band is not just the dorky kids in terrible uniforms. I mean, yes, it is dorky kids in terrible uniforms, but it is also so much more than that, and it’s wonderful. (Plus, hey, it turns out many of those dorky kids are hilarious, and/or brilliant, and/or they transform into self-assured young adults over time. And I am not just saying that because I adore my own geeklings; it’s totally true.) Let me take you through the magic that is high school marching band.
The uniforms are terrible. As already acknowledged, no one on the planet looks good in a marching uniform. This is not a bad thing. While the cheerleaders are making sure their high ponytails are just so, the girls in the band are simply stuffing their hair into their shakos (yes, the dorky hats have a special name) and forgetting about it. You know who looks stupid in a marching band uniform? That awkward, pimply kid who snorts when he laughs. You know who else looks stupid in a marching band uniform? The drum-playing Ashton Kutcher lookalike all the girls are giggling over. Everyone. Stupid uniforms are the great unifier. The playing field is completely level (pun intended) for the band kids on the fraught topic of looks, and this can be a real relief for kids who are constantly worrying if they measure up.
Those terrible uniforms are dry-clean only. In the recent past I’ve have two different friends with sports-playing teens send me pictures of giant mountains of laundry and encroaching piles of smelly pads and other equipment, lamenting the stench and work that is being a sports parent. We have none of that. The uniforms get sent out for cleaning, and for most of the season here in the south, the kids are wearing as little as possible under said uniforms, because it’s a bazillion degrees outside. No laundry monsters for us! (Just, uh, resist the urge to sniff their marching shoes. You’re welcome. Sprinkle some baking soda in them periodically and stay back.)
Marching band directors are saints among us. Any high school that has a marching band worth its salt is run by a band director anchored by four guiding principles:
1) A love of music.
2) A love of teenagers.
3) Expectation of complete dedication.
4) Zero tolerance for shenanigans.
I know this is true in our band, and in talking with other band families, we’ve all concluded it’s universally true, because there is no other way a high school music teacher can turn a hundred-odd hormone-addled adolescents into a well-oiled production machine. The marching band director will push your child to excellence in a way that settles for nothing less, but somehow he’ll do it in a way that your kid will love. (Don’t ask me how. I can’t even get this kid to pick up her socks off the floor, so clearly the band director possesses superpowers.) The work that gets done on the field is amazing enough, but it doesn’t end there—this extra set of watchful eyes brooks no transgressions elsewhere, either. There is a code of conduct and it is taken very seriously. Which leads us to…
… Band kids are the best kids, period. In a lifetime of observing different groups and activities where teens congregate, I can say without reservation that the marching band is absolutely theleast homogenous, in the sense that there are kids from every part of the school and all different circumstances. Other activities tend to bring like kids together, and somehow band is different. This will put your kid with some kids they’d never meet, otherwise. But the way in which they’re all alike is that they’re all really good kids. They work hard in school, they work hard in band, and remember how the director doesn’t tolerate shenanigans? They meet that code of conduct or they disappear. That’s it. There’s no nudge-nudge-wink-wink or “I didn’t see that” in band culture the way there is in some team sports. The kids are expected to be awesome at all times. As a result, most of the kids are awesome at all times. No, they don’t stop being teenagers, but there is a family atmosphere and acceptance of all among the band kids that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. It’s a safe place, and I don’t know about your teen, but for my teen, that’s been a godsend.
Musicians do better at everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but the benefits of music education are well-documented. Being in marching band gives your teen everything from a leg up on the SATs to a decreased chance of using drugs. Trust me, band kids don’t have time for any of that, anyway. Ever heard the saying that a busy teenager is a happy teenager? Band kids are busy.
Marching band is great exercise for the exercise-averse. We’re not a family of obese couch potatoes, but neither are we particularly sporty and outdoorsy. I don’t know if you know this, but marching around in 100+ degree weather is really, really hard. It requires a great deal of physical stamina, and it’s often requiring it of kids who would rather chew off their own arms than run laps. Know what’s awesome? The fact that they’re concentrating on their music totally distracts those kids from the fact that they’re getting a workout.
The marching band usually gets to go on awesome trips. Sure, other teams get to travel, too, but our band has gone to some amazing places and events, and then they’re there with this take-no-crap band director and a group of good kids, which means peace of mind.
Two words: Band Camp. The greatness that is the periodic, dead-serious interjection of, “This one time? At Band Camp?” into everyday conversation cannot be overstated. Or maybe that’s just our family, but really, it never stops being funny.
Drummers are better known for their beats than their brain power, but research has suggested that they might actually be natural intellectuals.
Scientists who asked volunteers to keep time with a drumstick before taking intelligence tests discovered that those with the best sense of rhythm also scored highest in the mental assessments.
Born smart? The late Keith Moon, drummer with The Who, could have had natural intellect.
Prof Frederic Ullen, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, concluded that there was a link between intelligence, good timing and the part of the brain used for problem-solving.
He said: "The rhythmic accuracy in brain activity that is observed when a person maintains a steady beat is also important to the problem-solving capacities measured with the intelligence tests."
For the study, Prof Ullen and Guy Madison, from Sweden's Umea University, asked 34 right-handed men aged between 19 and 49 to tap a drumstick at a variety of different intervals.
By Gary Cleland
12:01AM BST 17 Apr 2008
Did you know?
Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
• 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
• 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
• 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
• 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
• 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:
• Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently
• Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently
• Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
• Perform community service more than four times as often
Share the importance of music education with an awareness campaign. GOSources: Natural News, VH1 Save the Music, Music Ed, NAMM