During times of duress and difficulty, people all across the
world have always turned to music for calm and support. Current times are no different. Music’s transformational
power to convey emotion and reach out to others is felt everywhere. Though students
are learning in a new way and teachers are learning new ways to teach, the
feelings and impact of music-making remains the same.
Musicians at all levels are communicating to the global
community to touch those who are hungry to hear. Hospital staff singing to
uplift patients or Italian citizens singing from their balconies to encourage
their neighbors – we’ve all seen them. Professional musicians such as Itzhak Perlman
(one of my favorites- always with a story), Steve Martin (Banjo Balm),
and YoYo Ma’s serenade for healthcare workers (google on classicfm.com) are just a few of the many musicians who have
mobilized in response to the pandemic. The Pacific Symphony provides a Quarantine
Clip on their website with new postings each day. The San Francisco Symphony
offers Concert Highlights on their website (sfsymphony.org) Choirs are using Zoom to join in digital
Although we are not together this season, resources are available
on our website or Facebook page for you to provide to students. The countless online
opportunities to see and appreciate musicians who wish to offer their gifts
connects us and gives us hope.
Thank you for your many kind emails and good wishes for our
staff and the business. Please know that we are here to answer any questions
you may have. We are already accepting registrations for spring 2021. Our very
best wishes to you, your students, and your community as we move forward to a
day when we can enjoy music together again.
As we’ve said goodbye to our 2020
festival season (with barely a chance to say hello), we want to give you an
update on what we’re doing and where we go from here.
Like many of you, we are monitoring
the status of the Coronavirus and the guidelines from the State of
California. If you were planning on
participating with us during the 2020 festival season, we are providing the
All 2020 festivals are now cancelled. Although we were hoping to re-schedule groups, it just isn’t possible during this spring season. Above all, the health of our participants and our staff is what matters most.
We have suspended our usual cancellation deadlines due to the pandemic.
School refunds are nearly complete. We’d like to extend a shout out to our many valued partners (hotels, restaurant, bus companies, etc.) for assisting us to refund so many of our client’s funds.
We continue to advocate for our groups with our corporate suppliers to expedite the remainder of funds paid on behalf of schools. Wherever possible, we are offering partial refunds now so needed monies can be returned to the hands of students and their families. Once the remainder of the refund comes back to us, we will refund the balance to the school.
If you wish to have your 2020 funds carried over for a festival in 2021, please notify us. We are accepting registrations now for the 2021 festival season – visit Festival Registrations.
We are working remotely. The best way to reach us is by email – firstname.lastname@example.org. You may leave a message at our office phone, but it may take longer to retrieve and answer those messages.
Hotels, theme parks, charter bus companies, and restaurants are also under lockdown orders. This may delay refunds and correspondence as they are facing the same situation as many of us.
Thank you for your patience and
understanding as we navigate through this difficult time. We are here to answer any questions you may
have. Most importantly, we encourage you
and your school community to adhere to local guidelines for best practices to
stay safe and healthy.
Updated April 1, 2020
In light of the new recommendations from the State
Superintendent of Public Instruction (read letter here),
Forum has made the difficult choice to cancel the rest of our festival
season. We are as heartbroken as our many clients at this unfortunate
situation but the health and safety of all our directors, students, families,
and staff are at the forefront of our minds.
We are working remotely from home at this time. Please contact us at email@example.com for options for funds paid in toward your 2020 festival participation.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your sincere and
kind emails during this difficult time. We consider you all as close as
family and will miss seeing you and hearing your students this year.
We excitedly look forward to our 2021 festival season! Registrations are NOW OPEN so lock in your preferred date today. Contact us for a no-obligation overnight quote for the lowest rates and best availability. We are hopeful that all public health concerns will be resolved long before our season will commence.
Take care, be well, continue making music and we will see
you all in 2021!
Updated March 27, 2020
Our team at Forum is working diligently to process refunds
and address this fluid situation on a case-by-case basis. At this point,
we have not cancelled all of our May festivals. We are waiting for
further direction from the CDC and state of California. If you are
registered for a May festival, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
to give us an update on whether your district will be in session or will allow
travel in May or June.
Due to the shelter in place orders from the California government, we are no longer actively in the office. Our staff is monitoring email and phone calls. Refunds will be processed once we can get back into the office. Please be patient as we work through this together.
Updated March 17, 2020
Forum Music Festivals would like to express a sincere and
heartfelt thank you to all of our clients and partners who have been so patient
and understanding during this unprecedented and uncertain time.
We are currently holding to see if late May or early June
festivals may be possible. Based on current CDC guidelines, we do not
feel comfortable planning any events until this situation calms down. If
you are interested in pursuing a later festival date, we ask that you reach out
to us in early to mid-April to see what options may be available at that
time. We appreciate your understanding as we wait for a clearer picture
of what is to come.
Please note we have had to reduce our office hours due to
the governor’s recent suggestions, so our team is working remotely and
communicating as best we can to get refunds and changes processed. We
also must wait for our partner organizations (theme parks, hotels, restaurants,
etc.) to process refunds before we can move forward. We are doing
everything we can to get these out in a timely manner while also considering
the health and safety of our staff. Thank you in advance for your
Take care and be well!
Updated March 13, 2020
As you may know, the COVID-19 coronavirus has forced the
closures and cancellations of many venues and activities throughout the
country. In accordance with the recommendations made by the state of
California, we have decided to cancel our festivals through the end of
March. We are saddened to make this move but believe it is in the best
interest of our music teachers and students. We are also assessing our
April dates and cancelling those as necessary. If you have an existing
registration with us, we will inform you directly if this impacts your trip.
You have several options including:
Reschedule at a later date – possibly May or June
Request a refund
Request the theme park tickets and we will refund the festival portion
Roll-over all fees for a 2021 festival date. Registrations will commence on April 1.
Because of these extraordinary circumstances, we are
processing many refunds on a case-by-case basis. We thank you for your
patience in getting this information out to you. We have a high volume of
calls at this time, so please email email@example.com
with any questions you may have.
We look forward to working with all of you and your talented
students later this year and beyond in 2021 and appreciate your understanding
during these difficult times.
Originally posted March 3, 2020
At Forum Music Festivals, our goal is to provide an experience that is not only educational and fun, but also an experience that keeps students well-being at the forefront.
At this time, there are no
restrictions on travel anywhere in the United States. In addition, there’s no indication that
travel plans within the United States should be altered for any public health
reason. The CDC and other health
organizations have advised that the current health risk to the general public
is considered low. In addition, young
people appear to be less susceptible to the Coronavirus.
Specific healthy habits always benefits student travelers – wash hands frequently, cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue, and consult your health care provider before traveling when sick. We also encourage group leaders to check official world and national health resources for the most accurate information. These include the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Travel Association. Educating ourselves with guidance from legitimate health organizations will allow us to make the best decisions for our student travelers.
Although this is a developing situation, we currently do not foresee a change in our cancellation policy.
been with us for a while, you probably understand our scheduling process. However, if you are a “newbie” to Forum, you may
need an explanation of how our scheduling works.
Some of our
competitors “sell” performance spots.
This works for early registrants if they absolutely must have a location
and a time spot for their ensembles.
But the drawbacks to this method are tough to get around.
If you are unable to register early,
you must take what you can get.
If you want an audience to see your
performance and to allow your students the chance to see other ensembles, the
schedule may not be set up for optimal audience participation.
If you have to pick & choose
times, your jazz band may perform at 8 AM and your concert band can’t perform
until noon, just based on the spots that have already been filled.
At Forum, we
have a different method that’s seems to be working, now 25 years in. We solicit director input regarding the
group’s ETA, departure times, possible bus parameters that influence arrival
time, plus a wish list for an ideal performance schedule. We organize the schedule to group similar
ensembles together, to allow for enough warm-up time between ensembles who
share the same director or have cross-over students. And we try our best to get your ensembles
grouped on the schedule comfortably without a huge amount of wait time.
Help YOU with 11 Important Scheduling Tips:
If your bus company has timing constraints,
notify us when you schedule your bus.
If students perform in multiple
ensembles, mention this before the schedule is released.
If you WANT to perform back-to-back,
(maybe with an associate to handle warm-ups), let us know. No guarantees, but we’ll do our best.
If you must provide off-duty time to
your bus driver, share that essential information so we can schedule your exit
If you can perform super early, that
helps us help you. Not everyone can
perform at 10 AM – what a cacophony that would be!
Do you want your ensemble to have an
audience? Let us know! No
guarantees again but scheduling close to an awards ceremony will more likely
ensure an audience.
Your students deserve a great awards
ceremony. If your schedule doesn’t
permit attending the awards ceremony, let us know before the
schedule is released. We may adjust the
schedule so students will benefit by the entire experience.
If you have arranged your own
activity, tell us about your plans so we can comfortably allow time for you to
Flexibility is key!
Remember, traffic and road closures influence the schedule.
Communicating with us can result in a positive outcome to the festival
performance, even if traffic congestion woes misplace the best laid plans.
Dropping groups after the schedule release
is a faux pas of festival decorum. When you register your ensembles, a spot in
the line-up is being held just for you. If you cancel an ensemble late in the game,
you have likely eliminated the possibility of another school being able to perform.
Time your performance.
Playing past the scheduled time causes the festival to run late, affects
the timing of other schools, and irritates the judges who are trying to stick
to the timeline.
spotting a common thread here?Notify us – mention
this – let us know – share information – and clue us in. We enjoy chatting with our clients, so give
us a call or shoot us an email. If you
have info that will affect your arrival, we’d love to know. And, we want you and your ensembles to feel
good about your performance so if scheduling is going to affect that, let’s
Not all of
us are uber planners. Some of us need to
catch our breath before launching into another big program. Those folks start planning trips after the
holiday concerts are done, January classes are set, and reality sets in that a
music trip hasn’t been booked quite yet.
Never fear! There’s still
Give us a
call – our
experience and ideas will help you arrange an outstanding trip that includes
all the essentials – learning, fun, and performance! After all, we’ve been developing terrific
resources for 25 years. A great festival
trip to your choice destination is just a phone call away.
Our team at
Forum will answer your questions and guide you towards a festival trip that
meets both your budget and interests. How
about five tips to get you started?
Be flexible. If you didn’t start planning earlier, give us a range of dates that will work in your schedule. Popular festivals fill up quickly. If you are planning an overnight trip, hotels and attractions also fill up quickly. Have an open mind and let’s get started!
Explore alternate activities. So, your group didn’t make the cut-off for a popular theme park workshop? Let us help you find an alternate educational experience that fits the bill. Maybe be a clinic or performance that you hadn’t considered before or an afternoon at the Philharmonic or theatre would appeal to your students.
Don’t delay decision making. When time is not on your side, be prepared to make quick decisions so you don’t lose out. Making speedy decisions may not be in your comfort zone but collecting everyone’s opinions at this date may impede the possibility of doing the activity that you really wanted to include.
Fundraisers and finances are the facts of life. If you haven’t collected funds for the trip, it doesn’t mean the trip is off. At Forum, we have suggestions that allow you to enjoy a trip on a budget. Early fundraising is beneficial, but options are available that make it possible for your students to travel.
Don’t shortchange your itinerary if it jeopardizes safety and security. We never recommend loading a charter bus in the evening to drive through the night. Night driving challenges include driver physical and mental fatigue. Most accidents happen during the hours of 2:00-4:00 AM. Instead, consider staying the night and driving home the next morning. Safety is the most important element of the trip.
You might be
getting a late start, but you can still your students with a fantastic and
rewarding trip this year. We’re only a
phone call away and invite you to pick up the phone.
PS – Looking
for a destination outside of California or our festival season? We can help with that, too. Let’s chat about student tour ideas that will
spark your students’ enthusiasm. Email
or call – firstname.lastname@example.org / 1-888-763-6786.
Recently, this article regarding Mister Rogers’ impact on music education appeared in the NAfME e-newsletter. Given its timeliness with the release of the recent movie as well as his enduring legacy that touches parents, teachers, and all of us, we are honored to reprint the article here.
This article was originally posted on Cued In, the J. W. Pepper blog.
It’s said the first thing Fred Rogers did when he returned home from emergency surgery for stomach cancer was go straight to his piano. His wife Joanne has shared with friends how much her husband loved playing that piano. His grandmother bought the nine-foot Steinway concert grand for Fred when he was only a teenager. He used that piano for the rest of his life, including when he composed songs for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and when he played some of his favorite pieces, like Misty.
“Joanne has described standing in the next room until Fred finished when he was playing with such reverie,” Faulkner University professor Art Williams said.
Williams has extensively studied how Mister Rogers has affected music education. Like many others, Williams grew up watching the program. When Williams was in high school, he wrote letters to both Fred Rogers and the program’s jazz pianist, Johnny Costa. Both of them wrote him back with words of encouragement. Costa inspired Williams to study music education.
“Looking back, I realized to what extent the music on Mister Rogers influenced my love of jazz and my desire to study music,” Williams said.
That effect was so strong for Williams and many others because of the ways both music and child psychology concepts were treasured on the program.
The Musical Foundation of Mister Rogers
Much of the show’s philosophy stemmed from Rogers’ experiences with his grandfather, Fred Brooks McFeely. As the Los Angeles Times noted, Rogers told book writer Jeanne Marie Laskas that his grandfather once said to him, “You know, you made this day a really special day just by being yourself. There’s only one person in the world like you, and I happen to like you just the way you are.”
That idea stuck when Rogers later attended Rollins College to major in music composition. When Rogers began his television program, he worked hand in hand with renowned child psychologist Dr. Margaret McFarland to ensure he could create songs that would reach young viewers. Rogers wrote over 200 songs for his TV neighborhood, concentrating primarily on the lyrics and the melody.
Costa and his jazz trio provided the flourish. Costa was a master pianist who was highly regarded for his ability to improvise. He altered his piano playing every time a song was played, including the opening and closing numbers. He also improvised when Rogers was talking, setting the stage for Rogers to powerfully convey his messages.
From the first sounds of the program to the last, Costa was determined not to dumb down any of the music. The opening piano notes in Won’t You Be My Neighbor that started each episode were inspired by the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in C Major, Opus 2, No. 3.
“Johnny was working on the Beethoven sonata and thought it would make a nice intro if he just put his thumb down while playing to create four-part harmony instead of three,” Williams said.
Rogers composed Won’t You Be My Neighbor in 1963 after the show began in Canada. It was kept when the program transferred to the United States. The original closing number for Mister Rogers though was a composition called Tomorrow (listen to it here on YouTube). Rogers wrote It’s Such a Good Feeling in 1969, which was later adopted as the traditional closing.
These pieces helped create the musical foundation of the show.
“Fred said music was the heartbeat of it all. The program has a musical grid. He even composed the script in sonata form,” Williams said.
He explains that the exposition of the “sonata” was when Rogers brought an object that would set forth the idea of the day. The development would include travels as the viewer saw how the idea unfolded. The recapitulation was when Rogers revisited and interpreted what had been done that day.
Underlying it all was the show’s patient pace. Composer Tom Trenney, who also credits Mister Rogers with inspiring his life’s work, says the program’s use of routine and reflective moments can be duplicated in the music classroom and beyond.
“We often do the same thing again and again to create some calm,” Trenney said. “There’s a joy in resting and gently creating quiet space. A moment of silence in choir rehearsal can make the music much more intentional.”
Ways the Show Influenced Music Education
Beyond the overall structure of the program, Mister Rogers had specific ways it promoted music education and child development. Williams defined six ways in his dissertation:
Original Compositions – The songs on the program demonstrated how powerful it is to combine lyrics with melody in ways that help an audience address common aspects of life. For children, that included everything from welcoming a baby brother or sister to dealing with fears about going down the bathtub drain. The program also frequently discussed how to handle emotions.
Music Underscore – Williams says that with the help of Costa, the music became “a character of its own.” The improvised jazz played throughout the program was unlike anything children would have heard on other shows at the time.
Operas Composed – Thirteen children’s operas were produced for the show. Rogers’ former classmate John Reardon was an opera singer who performed in the works. The program showed the process of creating the opera throughout the week so children could see the collaboration involved in the production.
Musical Guests – The program frequently featured musicians, both professional and amateur. Guests were regularly asked if they enjoyed playing as a child and how they played if they had strong emotions, including sadness or anger. Famous guests included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, singer Tony Bennett, violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist André Watts. Grammy award-winning artist Esperanza Spalding has said seeing Yo-Yo Ma on an episode inspired her to learn how to play the bass.
Music Lessons – Rogers frequently had segments designed to teach children about music. He showed how instruments were made, shared a staff with notes, and went to the music shop on the set for lessons. Williams says Rogers followed the Quaker idea that “attitudes are caught, not taught.” With that mind, he enjoyed featuring professionals who not only loved what they did but also worked hard to achieve their goals.
Musical Messages – Music was always presented in a positive light on the program. Rogers would ask the children if music made them feel like singing or dancing and what instruments they may like to play. The set also included posters on the walls and other visible things that encouraged music lessons and positive attitudes towards music. It was the best form of subliminal advertising.
The combined effect was that children continually were exposed to noteworthy details about music. As Williams said, “It was probably the largest music appreciation classroom there’s ever been.”
The Big Message for Educators
Trenney focused on these big-picture ideas during a presentation on Mister Rogers at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. As a composer and conductor, Trenney has taken to heart Rogers’ practice of regularly sharing thoughts about how we should treat our neighbors with openness and inclusion. Trenney keeps that in mind when picking text for his compositions and repertoire for his choirs to sing.
“We should use the holy ground of choir to sing about love, hope, light and faith. If we don’t do it in treasured times when we choose the words on people’s lips, who are we looking to do that?” Trenney said.
Trenney also appreciated Rogers’ gentle nature in a world and time when men were often expected to be tough. Trenney says it’s notable that Rogers always stayed true to who he was.
“Think about how much the world changed in the 30 years from 1968 until the early 2000s. And you know he had the same curtains and the same sweaters the whole time,” Trenney said. “It wasn’t about being novel and trendy. It was about having a message that said to somebody, ‘I love you just the way you are. There’s no one else like you. There never has been, and there never will be.’”
support for organizing the perfect trip can be frustrating and time-consuming. You need a strategy for creating a base of
support from parents, students, and administration. We’re here to share some great guidelines for
promoting your trip.
the help of another teacher!
If you and
another teacher at your school or in your district share a vision for what a music
trip will look like, consider joining together.
You automatically have doubled your base of support when you create a
travel team partner. And you can
collaborate on idea exchanges with a fellow travel buddy.
your enthusiasm each day in class.
the trip is just the beginning. Consider
bringing in instructional elements that engage your students and are relevant
to the trip. For example, if you are performing
a march at festival, tie in a visit to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles who
offers a workshop on The Music of War. Check
out the San Francisco Symphony’s website for a First Timer’s Guide and use that
as a springboard to teach your students about what they are going to
your enthusiasm at a parent meeting.
parents behind the trip by hosting an information meeting as soon as
possible. Be prepared to cover the
benefits of student travel, any safety concerns that may come up, and filling
in parents with a detailed itinerary. Be
ready to answer parent’s questions about the trip, the finances, and the goal.
media is your friend.
about ways to broadcast excitement for the trip. Launch a Facebook page about the trip, the
area, a packing list, what to bring, what will be performed. Consider adding Instagram or Twitter to your
toolbox. Encourage students to post
details about the trip – their hopes, their connections, their top ten list of
what they want to experience.
fundraising opportunities. Be realistic
about activities and meals – make it affordable so more students will be able
to attend. Put together some options
with your boosters or grant money for scholarships towards students in need of
a little extra help.
Rely on Specialists.
At Forum, we’ve
been organizing music trips for 25 years.
If you need a helping hand, consider consulting our professional music
travel experts who can carve out a fantastic trip for your students and stay
within your budget. Because we’ve been
at this for so long, we have networking associations and longstanding
relationships with hotels, attractions, and bus companies to make your music
trip planning a breeze. If offering
your students a chance to travel is on your wish list, we’d love to talk to
you. Keep these tips in mind and let’s
work together to make a successful trip an awesome experience for you and your
Your expertise is teaching. A travel planner’s expertise is to know the nuts
and bolts of millions of elements that make a trip run smoothly. Many directors or booster clubs think they
can do it themselves on the cheap. A
travel planner earns bulk discounts with hotels, restaurants, and attractions by
regular business. Our connections save
you money. Collaborating with a tour
operator also provides you with a sounding board about ideas, problems, and
questions as they come up.
Set your goal for the
Solidifying your focus makes many
decisions easier for you. Communicating that goal will help generate
excitement to your students which is at the core of keeping attrition down,
fundraising up, and the momentum going straight ahead. This doesn’t mean that you can’t mix in fun
along with the learning but having a clear mind about your plan makes the trip
Establish rules early and
Having students and families sign a “behavior
contract” notifies everyone about what is expected during the
trip. Choosing great chaperones is another
way to keep behavior on track. Prepare
your travelers by establishing your policy on cell phones, boys & girls at
the hotel, and theatre etiquette.
Put on a happy face!
Your high spirits during the trip will boost
your students through fatigue, homesickness, and other factors that contribute to
lethargy. As you and your travel planner
are planning the trip, be mindful of keeping your students engaged, but not
allowing too much or too little on the itinerary.
Flexibility is key.
Things happen. Prepare
your students for schedule changes, back-up plans, and a few tiresome travel
companions here and then. What a great
lesson you are offering your students outside of their music studies! Flexibility is a great life asset
and traveling together is an awesome way to practice it.
The American String Teachers Association (ASTA) is an organization whose mission is to provide professional development, career building and support, and a community of peers for all teachers of stringed instruments. The organization promotes advocacy for string programs and string teachers through many brochures and publications available on their website at www.astaweb.com.
As members of ASTA’s corporate The String Industry Council, Forum Festivals proudly supports and serves the needs of string educators and students. As music programs are launched throughout the country, we thought it would be helpful to share a reprint of one of their most popular brochures promoting recruitment and advocacy.
Participation in a school and/or studio string instrument program
enhances a child’s quality of life. It provides creative, emotional, and social
opportunities and unifies communities.
Research on brain
development has shown string players brains are larger, have more neural
pathways, and process information faster.
All children are capable
of learning to play a stringed instrument, regardless of “talent,”
“giftedness,” or musical background. String classes have been successfully
taught to diverse populations and in diverse settings.
Unlike most other
musical instruments, stringed instruments come in a variety of sizes so that
children as young as three years old can begin instruction.
Orchestral music, which
is considered one of Western culture’s greatest treasures, cannot be performed
without stringed instruments.
Contemporary music increasingly
relies on strings. Some of the popular musical genres that feature stringed
instruments include jazz, country, pop, and various folk styles. Other world
cultures also use stringed instruments in their music making.
to perform on a stringed instrument abound. According to the American Symphony
Orchestra League, opportunities exist for adult musicians in more than 1,600
orchestras in the United States. Professionals in all fields have played
stringed instruments for lifelong fulfillment, including Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein.
Playing a stringed
instrument enhances the enjoyment of music, and leads to a lifelong appreciation
of music. An estimated 25 million people currently attend concerts each year in
the United States.
universities may need string players for their orchestras and may offer
scholarships to qualified students regardless of their intended academic major.
abound for undergraduate string education and performance majors. Today, more
than 8,000 string teaching positions exist in public schools alone, and
performers have opportunities to teach in studios, community music schools, and
in orchestra community outreach programs.
Communities benefit from area schools that offer a full complement
of fine arts courses, including stringed instrument study. Businesses often
appraise the cultural climate of a region when making decisions about where to
In every school, there are students who are inherently attracted
to the sound of stringed instruments. Without a string and orchestra program to
provide access to string education, students are denied the possibility of realizing
For information about the American String Teachers Association, please visit our website: www.astastrings.org
1. Is the festival scheduled in an appropriate venue?
Choosing a festival with a great performance venue really makes a big difference to your students. Many times, we’ve heard from discouraged directors who scheduled another festival where a school cafeteria, a multi-purpose room, or a gymnasium was considered a suitable venue. At Forum, that’s just not our style! Forum venues include college theatres, local auditoriums, or civic theatres that support good acoustics and a high level of professionalism. A good sound system and professional set-up encourages your students to perform their best.
2. What large equipment will be provided?
Don’t assume that you will or won’t
have to bring large percussion equipment to the festival. The festival should provide a percussion list
that will be made available to your students onstage. Knowledge is power and it’s good to know what
will be available to you.
3. Is it non-competitive or a competition?
It’s fun to be the winner of a
competition, but perhaps your students aren’t ready for that quite yet. After 25 years, I’ve realized that many top
groups steer clear of the ranking at competitive festivals in lieu of an
encouragement-style, educational festival.
Competitions certainly have their place, but student musicians deserve
support and constructive feedback as well as an opportunity to hear and
appreciate other student ensembles without worrying about their position on the
leaderboard. We want students to leave feeling good about their performance and
their experience with Forum.
4. How can I make sure this is a learning experience?
Question the festival organizer about the festival format so you can talk to your students about theatre etiquette and how to be generous audience members and participants.
Request a blank adjudication form to review with your students. Consider having them bring the form to quietly “adjudicate” other performances to discuss back in the classroom.
Delve deeper into the literature chosen by you as well as other groups. Cultural, historical, as well as musical threads are interwoven in music and this is your opportunity to develop your students’ knowledge about each of these elements.
Where and when does the awards ceremony take place? Plan to attend to support the other festival performances and to see how everything comes out. Your students deserve the chance to be a part of this important event.
Will the judges write and record comments that can be used back in the classroom as a teaching tool? At Forum, we also provide a clear recording without comments so your students can hear and comment on their own performance.
5. How will my students feel when they leave the festival?
If you are training your students to
play to the best of their abilities and you are not communicating a level of
disappointment regarding the results, your students should leave the festival
with a positive feeling about moving forward with their music studies. Evaluation is a good thing, if it is handled
in a constructive, encouraging, and positive way. Choose music that your students can
play. The biggest complaint from
adjudicators is with directors who select music that is too challenging for
students to perform. Direct the ensemble
in front of you. By giving your students a chance to feel successful, they will
focus on sharing their music with their peers and feeling satisfied that the
hours of preparation were worthwhile.
Developing a jazz band at
your school can be fun and inspiring. A
jazz band can serve as a mighty tool for recruiting. It helps students with
sight reading. It teaches leadership,
self-confidence, and reinforces creative expression. If your background does not specifically
include jazz performance, you can still start a jazz program for your students.
Observe colleagues with strong jazz programs. Attending their rehearsals and concerts, both at the high school and college level, will help you build your skills.
Listen to Big Band recordings – current and classic. Don’t forget about the excellent music from local or regional bands.
Attend workshops and conferences that include help for beginning jazz band instructors.
Research materials appropriate for teaching and encouraging improvisation – the whole point of jazz!
Don’t be afraid to ask. Many jazz educators can advise you or present a “Jazz Band 101” presentation to your group.
considerations before you get started:
What equipment will we need?
Small trap set – local instrument store can advise.
Electric bass and amp. Stand up bass will need appropriate strings and a pickup.
Mutes: Harmon, Bucket, and Cup Mutes for trombone and trumpet sections
A couple of beginning method books to teach style and rhythmic articulation
Should you select members by audition or all-inclusive?
When will jazz band meet? If outside school hours,how will rehearsals be set up?
Jazz band is an added commitment. Inform parents & students early about concert dates and rehearsals. Expect more from your jazz students – they must come to class prepared and responsible to the group.
Encourage students to doubleon secondary instruments. Adjudicators love to see flexibility and creativity, but don’t sacrifice intonation and proficiency.
Recruit from outside your band program. Don’t overlook a guitarist, a vocalist, or a pianist not already in your concert band. There are some jewels out there waiting to be discovered.
Some points to sell your idea
to students, parents, and administration:
How will jazz band benefit the instrumental program? Students develop new concepts, better recognize musical nuance, learn new vocabulary, and prepare for leadership in other groups.
Stronger, more talented players can be featured one on a part.
Jazz is known as “TheAmerican Art Form.” Learning about traditional jazz artists and its historical value shores up what students are already learning in history and literature classes.
Cooperation among members – an essential consideration. Although jazz allows for solo and improvisation, it also requires balance and teamwork. As Wynton Marsalis noted, “You must listen. You must have a conversation. The group must work together to achieve its goals.”
Okay – you did it! You established a jazz band at your
school. Now what?
When ready, take your band on the road! An encouragement-style festival offers helpful written and recorded feedback from adjudicators. At Forum, we record performances which can be played back in your classroom – a motivator for improved playing!
Look for opportunities to showcase the jazz band! They can play at Open House, fast food openings, sporting events – lots of experience and lots of PR!
Introduce all kinds of jazz in your classroom – Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Marian McPartland, Dave Brubeck, Diana Krall, the list goes on and on! All the greats and all the standards.
Join the ranks of your jazzy colleagues. Join a jazz educator’s organization (i.e. California Alliance for Jazz), invite a colleague to rehearse your band. Invite a jazz artist, or guest jazz band from the local college to visit your classroom. Contact Forum if you would like a referral for a jazz band clinician!
of things to consider, but at its core, you’ll decide whether developing a jazz
program is something you want for your students. Rewards are plentiful, but there’s no
shortage of hard work. Only you, given
your background, your motivation, and your school’s make up, can determine
this. But once you get started, keep on
When taking a student
group on any trip, you are faced with the prospect of feeding a lot of hungry
teenagers. Feeding the endlessly
ravenous can be a pretty daunting task.
How about a short list of ideas to feed the crowd?
Meal vouchers – Offered at most theme
parks, students can individually redeem vouchers for specific menu items or for
dollar amounts as listed on the card.
for all! – Most pizza
restaurants will deliver pizza, salad, soda, and paper goods to a location you
determine. Check with the hotel to see
if outside food is allowed on the premises.
Or arrange delivery at a park or picnic area. Pizza is economical, popular, and always
well-received by the student crowd.
Always remember – encouraging students (and adults) to clean up after
themselves will ensure another invitation!
Choices, choices, choices – always a great option for picky eaters. Buffet restaurants usually offer
student-friendly menus, quick service, and space for groups. Buffet restaurants such as Golden Corral,
Souplantation, Clifton’s Cafeteria, Hometown Buffet, and a myriad of local restaurants
that serve buffet-style have low prices, lots of choices, and a
campuses. If you are
performing at a college campus, check out the options in the college
cafeteria. They are designed to feed a
young, hungry population on a low-income budget. Boxed lunches or cafeteria-style eating is
often conveniently available.
Courts. Many large
shopping centers feature a central food court which can handle groups. Most likely, students will need to bring
their own money, but they can choose what they want, including familiar fast
food restaurants that cater to the teenage crowd.
Some sightseeing destinations have great meal plans. For example, at Pier 39’s program in San
Francisco, vouchers at three different price points will buy a variety of items
at many restaurants. At Knott’s
Berry Farm in Buena Park, an all-day dining plan provides a wristband
allowing students to select an entrée and side as often as every 90-minutes
throughout the day at a budget-friendly price.
Dinner or Welcome Dinner. Here’s a chance to build in a nice restaurant
meal for your group on either your first evening or the final evening of the
trip. We have many suggestions for these
restaurant meals that include meal, beverage, dessert, gratuity and tax – all
inclusive. Cement the good vibes
by kicking off the trip with a Welcome Dinner.
Or relieve some lasting memories and educational high points with a
Finale Dinner on your last evening!
We’d love to hear your ideas. As you have traveled with your student groups, what best works for your students? Feel free to exchange ideas for great meal options by emailing us at email@example.com. Bon Appetit!
Teacher Appreciation Week! Never too late or too early to thank a
teacher for his or her impact on your life!
Melissa Salguero built an remarkable music program
at P.S. 48 in New York City. When she
started, the program had absolutely no instruments, no
funding, and the school hadn’t had a music program for over thirty years. With
grants, teaching awards, and an enthused teaching style, she welcomes any
student who wishes to participate in the music program, regardless of financial
hardship. P.S.48 is located in the South
Bronx, one of the country’s poorest congressional districts. Not only has Ms. Salguero been recognized as
a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, she has also been awarded Lincoln
Center Arts Teacher of the Year, and a 2018 Grammy Music Educator Awards,
among many other accolades and honors.
education teaches us more than the “right” notes. It teaches us to create, express, and it
connects us all,” she exclaims.
At Forum Music Festivals, we have the good fortune each
week during the spring to see hundreds of music teachers hard at work impacting
the lives of their students. At festival, the students and teacher can see what
their efforts have achieved. From the NAfME
website, we share a few thoughts written by music educators who posted about
being a music educator.
a music teacher means I get to reach students who other teachers may have
“written off.” Everyone is creative!
sharing the world of music with my students!
Being a music
educator is more than teaching the music, it’s about teaching life, love, &
being a “family”
Being a teacher
means I get to teach students to love and appreciate music as much as I
I love teaching
how to play with emotion.
Being a music
teacher means that I get to live life around creativity. It is so exciting to
work with students as they find a place where they can truly think and create
within the school.
hats off to all of you in music education! You are doing challenging, but
important work! We appreciate you and you deserve every cheer and smile
you receive this week!
Your students are lining up to choose classes for
next year. The time to recruit students for your music program continues. How about sharing with your school community a
list of famous people who participated in school music programs? Maybe you’ll light an artistic fire in a
celebrity of the future!
Lively – The Gossip Girl showed off her singing and
dancing skills in Show Choir at Tarzana High School.
– Sang in his high school choir in Springfield, Missouri
Steven Spielberg – Clarinetist – You’ll hear him featured with a
high school orchestra in the movie “Jaws.”
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, wanted to play the flute, but was assigned the
tuba in school.
Anne Hathaway performed with her award-winning high school choir at the
All-Eastern U.S. High School Honors Chorus at Carnegie Hall.
President Barack Obama, known for being a notable public speaker was a
member of his high school’s choir in 1977.
that Gwen Stefani was also a flutist
at Loara High School?
Tina Fey was a member of her school choir and played the flute at Upper Darby
driver Danica Patrick also sang in
her high school choir and played flute in the band.
Barbra Streisand went to high school with Neil Diamond. Both sang in the school choir.
Samuel L. Jackson, French Horn and Trumpet, marched in his high
school band and played in the orchestra.
Joe Montana – NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback had another lesser known talent
off the football field – singing in his high school choir.
Fergie – Lead singer of The Black Eyed Peas, sang in choir at Mesa Robles
Middle School and Wilson High School.
Halle Berry – Flute player at her high school in Ohio.
McGregor – Turns out Obi Wan Kenobi is a pretty good French
Horn player having studied seriously in his native Scotland.
Garner – A self-confessed band geek, Jennifer Garner
serenaded Reese Witherspoon on Instagram for her birthday – full marching
uniform and saxophone.
Williams played the snare drum and keyboards and met his best
friend in summer band camp.
Blunt played the cello in high school and showed off her
skills in her early movie role, “My Summer of Love.”
Star, Vince Carter, and actress, Eva Longoria, both
served their high school marching bands as drum major.
Can your students find
any other famous folks who got their creative energy by performing in high
school music programs?
Over the past 24 years, we’ve hosted thousands of music groups at festivals. But, guitar ensemble registrations have markedly risen over the last 10 years. NAfME’s ongoing series, “50 States of Guitar Class,” features interviews with respected music educators across the country. According to the series, some programs have developed because of the teacher’s own familiarity with the instrument; other programs have grown out of traditional genres – band, orchestra, and choir – with non-guitarist instructors who’ve been tasked with teaching guitar. To read the ongoing series (they are currently on #7 out of 50), visit NAfME’s site.
Here’s some highpoints from the articles plus our own observations as festival producers:
Guitar is hugely popular. The guitar uniquely speaks to teens and can be played in many different genres of music. Its versatility appeals to students who love folk, jazz, classical, blues, Flamenco and rock. Its appeal is enduring.
“Guitar gave several struggling students something to look forward to on a daily basis.” So reported Vicki Boyle, Guitar Teacher in Bristol, Rhode Island. Guitar students often have unique personalities. With guitar instruction, you’ll likely see students thrive who wouldn’t necessarily fit into a regular band or choral set up.
Offering performances in many different venues builds a guitar program by exposing students to the community and other students. “…treating the guitar ensemble as any other ensemble such as band or chorus has helped grow the program. The guitar ensembles are revered throughout our towns and in our school” (Vicki Boyle)
A guitar is relatively inexpensive. Most students will be able to find access to a guitar.
Learn as much as you can from folks who know. Successful programs often have teachers who network with local colleges or state music associations. Tap into the expertise of college guitar majors to offer “master classes” or to mentor exceptional young guitarists. Chris Perez, a Director of Guitar Studies in Orlando, Florida encourages non-guitarist music educators to collaborate with colleagues. “Working with others and asking questions will help you be more solid in delivering quality guitar instruction and music teaching to your students. “
Forum Festivals hires college-level guitar educators as adjudicators. The ensemble can demonstrate technique and get constructive feedback. As you consider competitions or festivals, ask who will be adjudicating. If your school’s band, orchestra, or choir is going on a music trip, consider welcoming your guitar ensemble to come along.
You are teaching a lifelong skill. Some students may go on to successful careers, but all will develop an appreciation for the instrument and be able to perform for friends and family.“Sometimes we get so caught up in lessons, concerts, fundraisers, paperwork, etc., that it can be easy to forget the power music has to change lives,” reminds Steven Sabet of the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy in Elizabeth, NJ.
It’s okay to learn technique and play songs, according to Vin Downes who teaches in New Jersey. Many at-risk students are interested in studying guitar, but meeting them where they are means teaching the fundamentals in order to play a few songs to get started. Its benefits include teamwork in an ensemble, but it is also an individual instrument.
Guitar instruction doesn’t take away from band, orchestra, or choir enrollment. Schools offering guitar usually show an overall increase in music studies.
As guitar instruction continues to thrive in schools across the country, we’re very pleased to welcome an increasing number of guitar ensembles to festival. Networking with college-level guitar educators is just one of many positive elements of bringing guitar students to be seen and heard at festival. Organizing a trip with your guitar students can also include college clinics, concerts and performances with guitar artists, exchange concerts, and more. For more information about expanding your program to include an adjudicated festival, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here as a resource for your guitar students and program. Guitar has a global appeal. At Forum, it’s rewarding to be connected with guitar educators who embrace this common community of musicians.
A young middle school jazz band instructor recently came to a festival armed with handwritten notes on school notepaper and thrust them at me on the way to the warm up room. His plea as he ran – “Please make the judges read this!” Wading through the notes, I learned that Johnny so and so had dropped out last week because his family had moved, and Suzie so and so had to take on the baritone sax in his stead, and how the program was very new and the boundaries in their district had changed, and on the first piece, please overlook the 2nd solo because the student’s regular instrument was in the repair shop, and on and on. You get the picture.
From my previous conversations with him, I knew that this director had been working very hard to build his program. He clearly cared about his students’ performance, but his nervousness was evident to me and, more importantly, to his students. In his state of anxiety he had forgotten the judges’ music scores and had barely made the bus thereby shortening the warm-up, but he wanted to explain his way to a better performance.
In this case, the adjudicators wanted to hear the group and to judge them based on their performance – not on the handwritten excuses provided by the director. The notes were handed back to me without being read.
Experienced adjudicators are music professionals who typically want to help, not tear apart, the director and their students. Sometimes they are seen as “bad guys” and worry many directors. Although their efforts are often under appreciated, the constructive adjudicator provides a needed element if you want to improve the music your students are making: impartial feedback.
But, if you still really want to BUG the adjudicator at festival, several prominent adjudicators provide these surefire tips.
Select music that is technically and musically above the students’ abilities.
Probably the most commonly cited error seen at festivals, it is usually tied directly to the director’s lack of experience. Remove those blinders and accurately assess your group’s strengths and weaknesses. Then select the music accordingly. If unsure, ask an experienced colleague to evaluate your group’s level. An adjudicator must score based on the performance he or she hears. If that performance is one in which the performers struggle through the entire piece, the score will reflect the result. Remember – the adjudicator is not judging Mozart, or Beethoven, or Sousa – the adjudicator is judging your group’s interpretation and ability to perform the piece.
Bore the adjudicator by performing all music at one dynamic level.
No question – it is challenging to teach young musicians to perform with dynamic or stylistic differences. A young musician hangs on by the fingernails just trying to get the notes out, let alone keeping down the decibels. Whereas this problem consistently bugs the adjudicator, it’s also worthy to note that using dynamic contrast in your program will tend to impress the adjudicator. Bring some tunes and artists in to the band or choir room to influence your students musically and to demonstrate what you are trying to get them to understand. If you are unfamiliar with the music that most young teens are listening to, ask them to bring in a sample. Upon hearing it, you may better understand why dynamics is a misunderstood concept to most beginning music students!
Use photocopied music scores or provide no scores at all.
Here they come – dressed in beautiful costly concert dress or uniforms, playing expensive instruments, arriving in deluxe charter buses, but pleading that photocopied music scores for the judges are the best they could do. Judges aren’t buying it and neither should you. If scores are not available because they are “out of print,” present a letter of authorization from the publisher along with the photocopies.
Tune your group on stage.
Every festival organizer should provide ample time and space for groups to warm up. By insisting on a prolonged tune up onstage, the director may as well announce the group’s weaknesses to the adjudicators prior to the actual performance itself. The director who not only indulges in a lingering onstage tune-up, but also uses the opportunity to nitpick weak spots in sections or, worse yet, among individual student musicians tries the patience of judges and fellow participants.
Perform your concert in the warm-up room.
This overtaxes the brass players who then tire in performance and the pitch suffers. The warm-up period is just that – warming up for the performance at hand. You’ve already had your rehearsals – use this time to allow everyone to tune, give the students a few last minute reminders, encouragement, and you’re good to go! Please don’t deny your students the excitement of the performance itself.
Don’t time your music.
Adjudicators need a few minutes to give a good critique at the end of a performance. By ignoring the guidelines set down by the festival and overextending your performance, you are causing delays for other performers. Adjudicators are under pressure to stay on time. Playing one more selection over the suggested time limit that you just know everyone wants to hear seldom changes the adjudicators’ opinion of the strengths and weaknesses, but is seen as a breach of festival etiquette and a lack of courtesy to others.
Conduct your choir from the piano.
Directors that act as accompanist leave their traditional choir without a conductor. You cannot help your choir and maintain control listening carefully to problems if you are behind a keyboard. What if your group cannot afford an accompanist? Better to pre-record your accompaniment and use a playback tape during festival than to use the nodding head choral conducting style. Another excellent alternative would be to assign the job of accompanist to a capable student or possibly select material to be performed a cappella.
Ask yourself – am I singing with my performers because they can’t remember the words? Because I really like the tune? Because I like to hear myself sing? Be their conductor, not another member of the group. You can’t hear what your sections need you to hear if you are humming or singing along.
Directors tend to look at a festival as a sort of personal report card. Be assured – festival adjudicators are not the “bad guys;” they’re just people like you who have worked their way through the ups and downs of music education and maybe learned something along the way. They choose to adjudicate because they believe that their input can help groups to improve. No one sets out to actually “bug” the adjudicator at a festival. But ticking off a mental checklist of these no-nos ahead of time puts your group in the best possible light and allows the sheer talent and skill of your performers to shine through.
In our history, we’ve welcomed groups of all sizes and abilities. Whereas some festivals require a minimum number of students, that’s something that we’ve never done. Because our founders were themselves music educators (with big programs, by the way), they felt that the quality of the program was not necessarily determined by the quantity of students. And the same could be said of the reverse – just because the program is big doesn’t mean that the quality of the music is top notch.
By requiring students to undertake their music studies with the same intensity that a big program requires, you are investing in their passion. Student musicians in small programs simply cannot hide mistakes or sloppy practice habits, but they are often full of heart and the desire to improve or they would not be there. And with the focus on educating the student and offering performance and learning opportunities, small programs sometimes become larger. Nothing like success appeals to students to give music a try.
Don Gunderson, one of our most popular adjudicators and a legend in Southern California music education, says, “Conduct the band that is in front of you – not the one in your fantasy.” Each of your students deserves a teacher who believes that making music at the highest levels is the goal. No, your program may not achieve the “wall of sound” that big programs have, but the success of the program may lie in selecting appropriate literature, motivating dedicated students, and the excellence of the result.
And at Forum Music Festivals, we want to help music programs of all sizes and abilities accomplish those goals by providing an opportunity to perform in good venues and to expand their musical education with constructive feedback from adjudicators who see the spark. Success comes in all sizes. We want to be part of that effort.
As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, we reflect on the privilege of hosting many of you at festivals over the past 24 years. We hope that you will enjoy the holidays and focus on friends and family. Our staff wishes you the very best in the coming year and a season of health, happiness and peace.
Our offices will be closed from December 22 to January 2, however we will be answering emails and picking up phone messages.
Happy Holidays and here’s to a New Year filled with great music!