Marcia Neel is senior director of education for Yamaha Corporation of America. She is president of Music Education Consultants Inc., and serves as the education advisor to the Music Achievement Council. In this capacity, she presents sessions with practical success strategies for music educators at state music conferences, district in-service...

Marcia Neel is senior director of education for Yamaha Corporation of America. She is president of Music Education Consultants Inc., and serves as the education advisor to the Music Achievement Council. In this capacity, she presents sessions with practical success strategies for music educators at state music conferences, district in-service days and dealer workshops.

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Q&A with Actor Erich Bergen

Every year I attend the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In in Washington, D.C. For the last two years, I have had the pleasure of spending time with Erich Bergen, an actor and singer best known for playing Bob Gaudio in “Jersey Boys.” He recently ended his role as Blake Moran, policy advisor and executive assistant to the president on CBS’ “Madam Secretary.”

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Letter to Myself: Marcia Neel

Marcia Neel is senior director of education for Yamaha Corporation of America. She is president of Music Education Consultants Inc., and serves as the education advisor to the Music Achievement Council. In this capacity, she presents sessions with practical success strategies for music educators at state music conferences, district in-service days and dealer workshops. Neel is also a Yamaha Master Educator. Below, she writes a letter to her younger self about the joys of music education. 

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6 Steps to Get Funds that Support ESSA’s “Well-Rounded Education”

With the passage in December 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, music was named as one of the subjects that provide students with a "well-rounded education."

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Q&A with Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli

Dr. Elizabeth Lolli is the superintendent of the Dayton (Ohio) Public Schools (DPS), an urban district of 14,000 pre-K to high school students. In 2016, she took the bold step of bringing back the DPS Music Education Program after a 10-year absence.

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Q&A with Rapper J. Dash

I am interviewing prominent people, some in the music industry, others not. For this Q&A, I talked to rapper, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jameyel Johnson, better known as J. Dash

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Q&A with Congressman Mark Amodei

I am interviewing prominent people, some in the music industry, others not. For this Q&A, I talked to Congressman Mark Amodei. I chose to interview Rep. Amodei from Nevada because it's important to emphasize that arts education is a nonpartisan issue. Amodei, a Republican member of the House of Representatives since 2011, speaks joyously about his former music teacher as well as his memorable music-making experiences as a public school student in northern Nevada. Each year, he makes time to meet with me in his Washington, D.C., office, and he remains one of music education's ardent supporters.

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Q&A with Composer Eric Whitacre

I am interviewing prominent people, some in the music industry, others not. For my first Q&A, I talked to prolifc GRAMMY®-winning composer and conductor Eric WhitacreI became aware of Whitacre's special gifts many years ago when he was a standout undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Las VegasHis world view — that music education can be the gateway to building a better society because it informs the way that children see the world — is inspiring, thought-provoking and well worth exploring.

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High School Student Leaders Can Help Recruit Younger Music Students

The best recruiters for music programs are our current students. When re­taining music students from middle and elementary schools, look to high school students to help because they serve as the best public relations for the program. These student leaders are role models and can make an immediate and impactful impression on younger students.

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Get Ready for the First Performance National Day of Celebration

Give beginning band and orchestra students a boost in confidence by providing an opportunity for them to showcase their newly acquired music skills in front of family and friends in a public setting. That's the mission of the First Performance National Day of Celebration (FPNDoC). 

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Streamline Rehearsals by Establishing a Routine

How many times has the thought, "If I only had one more week," passed through your mind when preparing your ensemble for an upcoming performance? You can actually get back some of that time by establishing a routine and structure that streamlines rehearsals and increases efficiency. To ensure consistency, consider establishing the following sequence.

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Bring a Sense of Joy into Elementary Music Classes

What do the following people have in common: Condoleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State; Jerry Gay, an engineer who helped build the Hubble telescope; Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman; Richard Carranza, chancellor of the New York City Public Schools; and Steven Spielberg, renowned American filmmaker?  

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How to Get ESSA Funds

In May 2018, I had the privilege of attending the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Music Education Advocacy Fly-in in Washington, D.C. The goal of this program is to train NAMM members about the policies and priorities of the current administration so when they meet with members of Congress, they can better advocate for the importance of music education.

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Festival Etiquette

Performing at a festival is so much more than "performing the music." You should have high expectations for appearance and demeanor for performers as well as the audience. Here are some tips for your next formal performance.

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Resources for Student Recruitment and Retention

One of the hallmarks of successful music educators is their desire to continually seek out ways to "build a better mousetrap." For example, they look for new rehearsal and conducting techniques, innovative ideas to reach others through advocacy and more effective strategies to enhance recruitment and retention for their school's music education programs. 

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Lessons Learned from Past, Present and Future Festivals

As our thoughts turn to preparing for upcoming festival performances, we must remember that this is all about students attaining full facility of the skills required to become independent music-makers within the framework of the ensemble.

To borrow from "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens' famous holiday tale, let's focus on festivals past, present and future.

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Craft a Proposal for New Instruments

In much the same way that a sports team needs skill players to perform specific tasks, quality school bands and orchestras need a given ratio of instrumentalists to carry out their defined functions in the ensemble. In both cases, the excellent condition of the component parts is key to putting together a winning team.

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Explore Nontraditional Music Programs

Like most secondary music educators, your teaching credential probably allows you to teach K-12 music — anything from elementary classroom music to high school band. We each have our specialties, but many secondary instrumental educators have found success and great personal satisfaction by learning about and providing more comprehensive and inclusive music-making opportunities. 

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Creative Assessment: Project-Based Learning

You can tell from their playing whether a student is progressing, but can you really get a read on whether or not what we have been teaching is really sinking in?

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Leadership Opportunities with First Concerts

The start of a new school year always presents another exciting opportunity to set the course for a successful year of music-making, and nothing is better for charting that course than effective leadership from directors and students alike.

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ESSA: Get Started on the Right Foot

As the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) becomes more familiar to educators, administrators and the general public, district officials must consider how the new law will impact their schools' strategies to provide all children with a "well-rounded" education.

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