As Clocks & Clouds has continued to evolve we have continually tried to find our niche and place where our music and expertise can best serve. We started our journey with a lot of hopes and dreams. We had a desire to find focus for the band. As you can tell this blog has been a little all over the map. We haven’t found the consistency that we had hoped for with blogging, and similarly the focus made the blog nothing more than a write up of the latest news from C&C.
We as a band have made a new commitment to our blog and a new focus. Over the years we have gone into several schools and in particular orchestra programs and worked with students. We have a huge passion for education and would love it if time would allow for us to go into schools more often to inspire and educate kids. Unfortunately for us, this isn’t in the cards. My new hope for the blog is potentially the next best thing. We aim to be a resource to music teachers, and in particular orchestra teachers. we hope to be a resource on how to bring alternative styles of music into their classroom. I have seen plenty of programs purchase the latest hits and use them as the “pops selection” for their concert. I am not talking about simply buying the latest top 40 hit and playing it once with your orchestra to appease the desires of your students. I am talking about using alternative music in your program to have the most impact for the future. I’m talking about teaching kids how to improvise, compose, and understand how the Beatles and Beethoven are similar and different. I want kids to connect emotionally to every piece they play, and I believe rock music is one of the answers to accomplish this goal.
I have noticed two things in music education. The first is orchestra programs are being cut all around the country. Sometimes these programs are cut because of budget reasons, while other times a program is cut because of lack of numbers. The second thing I notice is that alternative music in string programs is too often not present. I think this is because some teachers are stubborn, while other teachers are scared. I’m hear to talk to the ones that are scared. Over the course of several months we will help you understand and realize that alternative music in orchestra programs is not a scary thing. In fact I have a strong belief that bringing in new styles of music to your program will revitalize and in some cases save your program.
You might ask yourselves right now, “why does this guy have any credibility to write about education?” The answer is simple. I am an educator. I always tell people that by day I’m a teacher and by night I play rock and roll, and sometimes I combine both worlds for the greater good of all. I have taught high school orchestra in three districts and each year I have seen an increase in enrollment, but most importantly I have seen kids fall more and more in love with playing music. I have heard story after story of kids telling me that they never used to practice their instruments and now they are practicing their violin every day. I work hard every day to create a community of students who all strive to do one thing; rock out. They rock out whether it’s Mozart or AC/DC.
The next question you may ask yourself is why would you try to destroy a tradition that has been established for hundreds of years? My answer is that I don’t destroy the tradition but build it up. What I do is establishes the importance of Beethoven and Brahms. In fact, I have a strong conviction that what I do as a teacher and performer highlights the greatness of what these composers do. I encourage students to love classical music just as much as rock. I have made many kids fall in love with classical music and have had many kids put the complete Beethoven Symphony cycle on their ipods.
As I continue to write you will see more and more of my philosophy with music education in the orchestra program. Most importantly, I simply want the best for my students and want to create the best music experience possible. Some of the things I share will be my failures as well as my successes. You may read this blog and disagree with my thoughts. I want to learn from you and I hope we can begin an open dialogue on how to fix an out of date system. I also want to hear from your successes as well as any thoughts you have on what I am hoping to discuss. My hope is that as this blog continues to evolve that I can get some guest bloggers to share some new and different insights.
I’m really looking forward to this new journey and I hope to learn a lot through my experiences. I hope you too can join me in creating a better music making experience for students across the country.