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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

GMU-NAfME Collegiate Recognized

The Virginia Music Educators Association has announced that Mason students will receive the National Association for Music Education Chapter of Excellence Award on November 21st at the state conference in Norfolk, Virginia. George Mason University is being recognized for in the categories of 1) Professional Development for organizing Music Education Forum, and 2) Recruitment for the student-led SMUS-apalooza. Student officers of the GMU-NAfME Collegiate chapter are (in alphabetical order): Victoria Andreotti, Rachel Bradner, Susanna Kelley, Sara Martin (President), and Byron Smith. Other Chapter of Excellence Award winners are: Lynchburg College, Shenandoah Conservatory, and the University of Virginia's College at Wise.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Local Teachers Visit Mason to Share their Expertise

On Friday, October 24th, music teachers from  local schools participated in a panel discussion on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Each panelist had three things in common: 1) they have 2-5 years of full-time teaching experience, 2) they were recommended by the music education faculty, and 3) they are all successful Mason alumni.

The topic for the panelists to discuss was Techniques and Strategies for Managing Student Behavior in the Music Classroom.  When asked to describe their "number one pet peeve involving student behavior," the panelists were clear: talking during rehearsal. Abby Izzo set the tone for the discussion, "Students talk if they are having a good day, a bad day, about the music, about all kinds of things. Sometimes it is about the music, sometimes it is not; your job is to keep talking from distracting the flow and pacing of the lesson by re-directing this off-task behavior." Kelly Hood shared and demonstrated her tip for managing excessive talking by using a chime to remind students when it is time to re-focus on the lesson. She also stressed the importance of understanding that teachers must evaluate their own teaching behavior as that will greatly influence student behaviors; both good and bad. Vincent Prinzivalli described a powerful lesson he learned while engaged in his student teaching experience with local band director Andrew Loft. According to Prinzivalli, "the best thing you can do [in a large ensemble rehearsal] is to get off the podium and circulate throughout the classroom. By doing so, your proximity to the students will quickly remind them not to engage in unnecessary talking when you are standing right next to them."

Peter Kadeli stressed the importance of being overly prepared. Upon accepting a position at his current school, he learned he had to teach a course in music technology. According to Kadeli, "Keep all your notebooks from your method courses. In this case, I was fortunate to take Dr. Jesse Guessford's class in music technology, this proved to be a valuable foundation for building the curriculum for the course I teach. When the students are engaged in learning, behavior problems are minimized." Patrick Smith echoed this sentiment, "It is true what they say, the students can't talk when they have their horns to their face." In addition, Smith talked about the importance of realizing the variety of ways that students learn in order to develop plans that incorporate a differentiated instructional approach  presenting the material in an organized but flexible way in order to accommodate all student learning needs in order to achieve maximum growth.

When sharing her number one tip involving student behavior, Michelle Fleischman described the importance of contacting the  students' classroom teacher. According to Fleischman, "Often the student who exhibits unusual behavior has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that describes specific accommodations and strategies for helping students with special needs. The classroom teacher who sees the child regularly can also provide important suggestions that will clue you in on how to work with the student."

The session concluded with questions from the audience. One question pertained to working with students (and their parents) who speak languages other than English. Nicole Scher, who minored in Spanish while at Mason, offered this advice, "If you can work it into your schedule to take a foreign language like Spanish. that will be valuable. However, there are resources such as translators available to teachers through their school and district to help communicate with students who have Limited English Proficiency (LEP). In addition, these students really do want to learn English and sometimes it is important to engage them in conversations in English in order to help them build their ability and confidence in speaking English. At the end of the day we must remember that we teach music, and that is a language all unto itself."

  • Abby Izzo, Band, Centreville Elementary School (FCPS). Dwayne A. Young, Principal
  • Michelle Fleischman, Orchestra, Robert Frost Middle School (FCPS). Eric McCann, Principal
  • Kelly Hood, General Music, Oak Hill Elementary School (FCPS). Dr. Amy Goodloe, Principal
  • Peter Kadeli, Chorus, Bishop O’Connell High School (Private). Dr. Joeseph E. Vorbach III, Principal
  • Vincent Prinzivalli, Band, Stonewall Middle School (PWCS). John Miller, Principal
  • Nicole Scher, Orchestra, Bailey’s Elementary School (FCPS). Marie Lemmon, Principal
  • Patrick Smith, Band, Lake Braddock Secondary School (FCPS). Dave Thomas, Principal
  • Special thanks to the GMU NAfME Collegiate chapter for providing food. Sara Martin, President

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Music Education Forum

Techniques and Strategies for Managing Student Behavior in the Music Classroom

Friday, 10/24/2014     12:00 – 1:00 pm     PAB 3001 – deLaski Hall

Guest Speakers

Abby Izzo, Band, Centreville Elementary School (FCPS); Michelle Fleischman, Orchestra, Robert Frost Middle School (FCPS); Kelly Hood, General Music, Oak Hill Elementary School (FCPS); Peter Kadeli, Chorus, Bishop O’Connell High School (Private); Vincent Prinzivalli, Band, Stonewall Middle School (PWCS); Nicole Scher, Orchestra, Bailey’s Elementary School (FCPS); Patrick Smith, Band, Lake Braddock Secondary School (FCPS).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Employment Opportunity

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra is launching an El Sistema program. They are seeking an Orff instructor five days a week in Alexandria from 6:30-8:00 AM.  The pay is $175 a week.  They are also seeking an accompanist for a choral program and a bucket-band instructor, each for separate afternoon sessions that are being held from about 2:45-4:00.  The accompanist position will be 3 days a week and will pay $125.  The bucket band leader is 5 days a week and will pay $175.

"The ideal candidate will have skills in her/his instrument and in ensemble music teaching and, just as importantly, a passion for improving the students' lives through music.”

For more information, contact Andrew Hitz at:

Monday, October 6, 2014

History Focus: Lowell Mason

Author: Timothy Smith,

            Lowell Mason (1792-1872), the self-declared “father of singing among children in this country"(1) is considered by many to be the father of American music education.  This is due to the pivotal role he played in the school reform movement during the early Nineteenth-century and in his work promoting music as a curricular subject to the Boston public school board in 1837 (2). Mason served as music teacher and music supervisor from 1837 until his dismissal in 1845. Mason’s method, and most famous publication, Manual of the Boston Academy of Music, for Instruction in the Elements of Vocal Music on the System of Pestalozzi (1834), was based on his understanding of the methods of the Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. This publication, although mostly plagiarized from German educator G.F. K├╝bler’s Anleitung zum Gesangunterrichte in Schulen, (3) was important because it described how music education helps develop the moral, physical, and intellectual capacities of students (4), and because it provided the Pestalozzian principles as a basis for music instruction (5).

A Portrait of Lowell Mason (6)

It is important to understand the customs of Mason’s time. First, the borrowing of whole sections of music books, especially theoretical descriptions, without giving proper credit to the original author, was common. Second, the use of the term ‘Pestalozzian’ was generally used to describe any new educational procedure during the early Nineteenth-century (7). While it could be that Mason was using the term in this way, Mason did become more learned in the Pestalozzian method later in his life. It is also important to remember that his contributions to the school reform movement are far more important than his knowledge of Pestalozzi’s principles.
            Although Mason’s tireless self-promotion led to him becoming very popular and successful during his life, his methods and motivations were sometimes questioned. In 1844, singing school teacher H.W. Day accused Mason of favoritism in hiring music teachers and of using a system of teaching designed to sell his own books. Another criticism was that, similar to the authors whose works on which he based his work, Mason's method focused more on teaching techniques rather than learning theories (8).  The lack of focus on student learning likely contributed to Day’s belief that children who were taught with Mason’s method had little musical knowledge by age fourteen (9)
            Although Mason’s behaviors sometimes reflected the questionable ethics common in the 19th-century in the United States (10), "his philosophy of teaching music to all children has become a tenet of the music education profession today" (11). The ideas that Mason introduced in American music education in the 1830's such as teaching using aural based methods before introducing music reading, using musical models instead of explaining musical concepts, teaching one concept at a time, and teaching for mastery before continuing are characteristics shared with Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and the rote-first methods of Suzuki, Dalcroze, Kodaly, and Orff.

(1) Michael L. Mark and Charles L. Gray, A History of American Music Education (Lanham, MD: Rowman and LittlefieldPublishers, Inc., 2007), 147.
(2) James A. Keene, A History of Music Education in the United States (Centennial, CO: Glenbridge Publishing, Ltd., 2009), 109.
(3) Mark and Gary, A History of American Music Education, 142.
(4) Michael Mark, Music Education: Source Readings from Ancient Greece to Today (New York: Routledge, 2013), 48-52.
(5) Mark and Gary, A History of American Music Education, 127.
(6) "Lowell Mason," Wikipedia, accessed September 20, 1014,
(7) Keene, A History of Music Education in the United States, 116.
(8) Ibid., 115.
(9) Ibid., 124.
(10) Ibid., 108.
(11) Ibid., 127.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Graduate Student Spotlight

The survival and success of school music programs rely heavily on attracting and retaining students. Even with the best instruments and facilities, great teachers still can not teach empty chairs. That is exactly what GMU music education doctoral student Angela Ammerman points out in a recent article published in the latest issue of the American String Teacher. According to Ammerman, "perceived musical ability was the most significant factor [for students when] deciding to drop orchestra." By boosting her students' musical confidence, increasing the social status of the ensemble, and improving rapport with her students, Ammerman is able to establish "brand loyalty" for the orchestra program -thus boosting student retention. Click on the link to read the full article: Curbing Beginning String Attrition: Marketing Orchestra.

Angela Ammerman serves as the orchestra director at Annandale High School in Farifax County Public Schools. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in music education at George Mason University. Her experiences in teaching K-12 general music and orchestra have provided her with insight into developing strong music programs through a variety of recruiting and retention styles. Before entering the graduate program in the GMU School of Music, Ammerman taught in Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia where she has also served as a guest conductor and presented clinics at in-service conferences. She recently returned from St. Louis where she presented her research at the 2014 NAfME Music Research & Teacher Education National Conference. She has been recognized as Beginning Teacher of the Year and has received the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award

The American String Teachers Association is an organization whose mission is "to enrich lives through the joy of teaching and playing string instruments." The GMU School of Music chapter of ASTA would like to invite all music students to join.  For more information about our student chapter contact Laura O'Konski at  or visit the ASTA online registration page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FCBDA Marching Band Clinic

James W. Robinson Secondary School is thrilled to once again host the FCBDA Marching Band Clinic on Saturday, September 20.  This event will feature 9 Fairfax County Bands performing in a clinic environment.  The end of this day will include “back-to-back” performances by all bands.  Please come out and support our bands for this event.  All aspects of the clinic are open.  Our clinicians for the event include Carl Bly, John Kilkenny, John Casagrande and Alfred Watkins.  Admission to this event is $5.00 and concessions are available.  The clinic begins at 10:00 am and concludes at 6:00 pm. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

United States Air Force Band 2015 Collegiate Symposium

The United States Air Force Band

As part of The United States Air Force Band’s Advancing Innovation through Music (AIM) program, Commander and Conductor, Colonel Larry H. Lang, announces a new educational initiative for collegiate wind, percussion, harp, and double bass musicians: The United States Air Force Band Collegiate Symposium. The Symposium is a two-day immersive experience encompassing a variety of activities that will enhance musical growth and learning.

The program begins on Feb. 7, 2015, at historic Hangar 2 on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the home of The U.S. Air Force Band. Participants will attend clinics and masterclasses conducted by world-class instrumentalists, participate in round table discussions, enjoy a tour of our facility, and rehearse side-by-side with The U.S. Air Force Concert Band. The weekend culminates on Sunday, Feb. 8, with another side-by-side rehearsal and live streamed public performance with The U.S. Air Force Concert Band at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Maryland.

For application information, please visit: 

To contact the Symposium staff, please email 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall 2014 Lab Ensemble Assignments

The LAB ENSEMBLE ASSIGNMENTS for the Fall 2014 semester are now available by following the link. Students with questions should contact the director of the ensemble they are assigned to. Contact information is as follows:

Students who are assigned to Lab Band must secure their woodwind or brass instrument from the instrument storage room (PAB 327A). Storage room hours are Tuesday and Thursday. Students assigned to oboe, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet or saxophone will need to provide their own reeds; students assigned to a brass instrument should provide their own mouthpiece. Percussion instruments and mallets (other than snare drum sticks) will be provided. For more information pertaining to instrument procurement contact Scott Nichols at

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NAfME Announces New National Core Music Standards

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is pleased to announce the release of the New National Core Music Standards, which will ensure students receive quality music education. These new standards replace the original standards released 20 years ago. The standards were developed by the profession for the profession, with a student-centered focus that respects each professional educator’s teaching style and unique contributions. Read the full article by clicking on the link below.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall 2014 Music Ed Convocation

Join us Friday, August 29th for important updates regarding the music education program.  There have been many revisions to the Music Education Handbook including new online MTEC Faculty recommendation forms. In addition to these important updates, representatives from our student music education affiliated organizations will provide an update on their progress.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What Makes a Great Teacher?

When preparing for a new school year, we are presented with an opportunity to reflect upon what we can do as a teacher to hone our skills and improve our craft. With the increase in accountability that recent educational reform has brought to the profession, researchers have been working diligently to address the question, "what makes a great teacher?" A recent article by Elizabeth Green may help shed some light on the subject.

Link to the Article:
Building a Better Teacher

Ph.D. Program Shines in St. Louis

Spring 2014 was a banner year for doctoral music education students who traveled to St. Louis for the NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education Conference. According to Dr. Stephen Zdzinski from the University of Miami, "Mason has really made its mark in the field by their representation at this conference." Participants presented important research in areas that included: teacher effectiveness, student recruitment and retention, grading practices, and teacher presenteeism.

Pictured from left to right: Nathan St. Pierre, Angela Ammerman, Margie Woods, Brian C. Wuttke, Tim Smith, and Brian Walden.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spring 2014 Convocation

The Spring Music Education convocation will introduce our newly appointed Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Tom Owens. Dr. Linda Monson, the Managing Director for the School of Music, will also be on hand to say a few kind words. In addition, representatives from our student music education affiliated organizations will provide an update on their progress.
Finally, students will be afforded the opportunity to attend one of the following three break-out sessions:

Welcome to Music Ed @ Mason with Professor Wayne Taylor
For all students who are in there first year at GMU.
MTEC is Not a Four-Letter Word with Dr. Lisa Billingham
For all students who are taking their MTEC Interview and Skill Proficiency Exam this semester, or in the Fall 2014 semester.
How to Survive the Student Teaching Application Process with Dr. Brian Wuttke
For all students who have been formally accepted into the Music Education degree program.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Winter Weekend of Music Making

The George Mason University School of Music hosted the National Band Association Symphonic Band Symposium of the Fairfax Campus on January 24th and 25th. Students and band directors from the Northern Virginia area worked with guest conductors, attended workshops, honed their conducting skills in workshops, participated in master classes, and listened to a performance by the Mason Wind Symphony.

Forest Park HS (Donald Magee, Director); John Champe HS (Jonathan Phillip, Director); Potomac Falls HS (Tim Niebergall, Director); Westfield HS (Stephen Panoff, Director).

Gary E. Smith (Associate Director of Bands, Emeritus, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Dennis M. Layendecker, D.M.A. (Col. USAF Band Conductor, Ret.; Conductorof the Mason Symphony Orchestra; Director of the George Mason University School of Music), Mark Camphouse (Reknowned Composer; Conductor of the Mason Wind Symphony), Brian O. Walden (Commander and Conductor of the USN Band), Stanley R. Schoonover (Director of the Fairfax Wind Symphony; Supervisor of Music for FCPS, Ret.), Roy Holder (President, National Band Association).

An Overview of the National Band Association (John Casagrande); The Bb Scale Ain't No Warmup (John Casagrande and Brian C. Wuttke); Selling Yourself in an Interview (Michael Pierson, Supervisor of Music, LCPS); From Cane to Beautiful Music (Sponsored by Vandoreen); Score Study from a Composer's Perspective (Mark Camphouse); Marketing, Recruiting, and Retention in Elementary Band (Eileen Fraedrich and Allison Parell); Conducting Workshop with the Mason Wind Symphony (Mark Camphouse and Dennis M. Layendecker, D.M.A.)

Flute (Jenny Lapple and Juliana Nickel), Oboe (Lorrie Berkshire-Brown, Ed.D.), Bassoon (Max Wharton, D.M.A.), Clarinet (Rochelle Oedemann, D.M.A.), Saxophone (Ed Fraedrich and Rick Parrell), Trumpet/French Horn (Phil Snedecor and Denny Edelbrock, D.M.A.), Trombone (Matt Neff), Euphonium/Tuba (Andrew Hitz), Percussion (John Kilkenny and Joe McCarthy).