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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, March 1, 2010


The PMC Quick Note is a service provided to all area directors. It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest. The Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


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The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st

-- The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education, BusinessWeek

Reaction to Guest Editorial by Larry Bennett
On January 25th, we published an editorial written by Bob Scott. The original article is reprinted at the bottom of this edition. Here is a reaction to that editorial submitted by Larry Bennett. It was included in this edition of the Quick Note with the author's permission.


Thanks for reprinting this fine piece.  If I recall correctly, Bob and I were on the same panel at one of the festival to which he is referring.  In my generation, many of us were of the opinion that the Concert Band was the "Mother Ship" of the band program.  I have seen a shift away from this philosophy by many younger directors.  They feel that the students and their parents are more excited about the competitive scenario of Marching Band Festivals.  You get those competitive juices flowing for large crowds, and, or course, there are all of those trophies for any number of captions at the end of the day.  Now, it seems as though I am going down a road that is going to end up in the village of Marching Band is Evil.  This is not the case; however, I do not feel that Marching Band should be the musical centerpiece of the Band Program.

As Scott opines, refinements of tone, intonation, balance, phrasing, and articulation take place not only in the  Concert Band setting, but also with the associated solos, small ensembles, private lessons, All-State audition preparation, and sectional rehearsals.  Granted, the crowds may not be as large, the music may not be as accessible to the parents, and the trophies are smaller (or non-existent); however, the critical listening skills that one develops to be a first-rank musician are honed in these settings.  To those who might argue that the finest marching bands can rival the finest concert bands in these areas, I would say a comparison of Drum and Bugle Corps vs. the Marine Band or the Chicago Symphony might be in order.  Oh well, this is my very long-winded way of saying thank you for publishing Bob's editorial one more time.  Best wishes!

Larry Bennett

Guest Editorial by Bob Scott ( ~~distributed in the Quick Note on January 25, 2010~~ )
Mr. Robert Scott is professor emeritus from Missouri State University and an active clinician and adjudicator of bands across the midwest. Mr. Scott wrote the article after many days of judging at state large ensemble contest and was concerned about the direction of music education. It offers valuable insight on the priorities we place as teachers. The prologue of the article was as follows: "After spending several weekends judging music festivals over the state, Bob Scott was disturbed enough to call your editor to see if I would welcome an article about his concern for the future of music education in our state.

Jess Cole made a statement to me over thirty years ago that I have never forgotten: "Too many kids are being cheated out of a music education." I hadn't thought that much about that statement until this past several weeks after having served as large instrumental adjudicator for two areas of the state music festival. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Forty-eight percent of the ratings I assigned were III's or below.

Too many groups had no basic concept of tone quality. It was obvious that many students had no idea of what a good characteristic sound is for their particular instrument. I believe we, as music educators, must seriously address this problem. Do some directors really know what constitutes a good tone? Where are we failing? Are the young directors being certified to teach music without having learned a good concept of sound for the various instruments? Have the young directors acquired the knowledge to teach the fundamentals leading to good tone production?

Many of the groups I heard were not even close regarding intonation. It was often difficult to hear any sense of key center during many of the performances. We heard scales played as warm-ups that were not even close to the pitches. Accompaniment parts were not tuned and often lacked any sense of rhythmic precision. Tuning the timpani was a common problem for several groups. I am sure the majority of the directors have the ability to detect these pitch problems, but have not developed this ability in their students.

I could go on and on identifying the problems. Blend and balance problems were commonplace. It was rare to hear second, third, and fourth parts blended and balanced to the lead players. Many groups presented a top-heavy sound with strident trumpets leading the charge. Articulations, dynamics, rhythmic precision were common problems. I have been giving this problem a lot of thought lately, and wondering what can be done to insure that a solid music education is an option for students in all schools, no matter the size of the institution. We can't throw up our hands and blame block scheduling, the lack of committed young people, or lack of administrative support.

Are the colleges and universities doing an adequate job of training music educators? Are MMEA, MBA, MCDA and MO-ASTA doing all they can to supply the kinds of clinics and programs to aid the growth and development of young educators? And, if these clinics are provided, will they be attended by the people that need them? Are the school administrators concerned that viable music programs are available for their students? Is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education aware of the inadequacies of many music programs in our state?

I was reluctant to send this article to the Missouri School Music Magazine, but believed we needed to address some serious problems which exist in our field. I sincerely hope that our professional organizations, colleges and universities, DESE and school administrators will give some serious thought to these concerns I have raised. I still believe every child has the right to a music education. Many students are served well in the number of fine programs we have in Missouri, but in a good number of cases, students are being "left behind" musically, and I have trouble accepting that.

Robert M. Scott

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Phil Myers, and Paul Bowen (417) 882-7000
Columbia Robert Pitts and Jake Herzog (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock (816) 792-8301
Joplin Wayne Blades, Scott Frederickson, and Chelsea Samuel (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Mark VanVranken and Tiffany Dempsey (918) 770-6827


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