As part of her True North approach to instructing, Dr. Emily Threinen sees opportunities to abandon the stick. Specifically, the director of bands and associate professor of music at the University of Minnesota recognizes when the baton is going to be helpful and when she needs to leave the podium to address an issue — especially with developing ensembles.
Larry Gookin, distinguished professor and emeritus professor of music at Central Washington University, retired in 2015 after 34 years as the university's director of bands. He is the former principal trombone of the Eugene and Yakima Symphony Orchestras and is emeritus artistic director and conductor of the Seattle Wind Symphony.
Peter Warshaw, fine arts director for the Leander (Texas) Independent School District, gives presentations about suicide awareness to music educators. Warshaw has lost two students as well as his wife to suicide, so he knows firsthand about the warning signs and the grief.
Denis DiBlasio is a natural improviser. He was about 10 years old when his music teacher wrote down a blues scale in F. "He said, 'Just make up stuff and use these notes,'" DiBlasio says. "I must have played that thing for two years. I just beat that thing to death."
A few times each semester, the band room at Hill Country Middle School in Austin, Texas, would fall completely silent. As students walked to rehearsal, they saw signs reminding them that their rehearsal would involve no talking from anyone — not even the teacher.
How do you treat figures on the drum chart in big band and small group jazz? I want to provide some clarity for those of you who are jazz band educators who do not play the drum set. I also want to help folks who are interested in applying their drum set skills to big band or small group jazz playing.
Yamaha Master Educator Kevin Ford is the director of bands at Tarpon Springs (Florida) High School and the founder and director of the Tarpon Springs Leadership Conservatory for the Arts. Below, he pens a letter to his younger self, sharing advice, anecdotes and inspiration for a fulfilling career in music education.