<center><h2>Music Mastery Practice Tips Newsletter, Issue 20</h2><h3>February 2012</h3></center><div style="text-align: justify;"><font size="2">It's a monthly newsletter, right? ;-) My last newsletter was back before the beginning of the school year, and I must say that this fall semester and the continuing spring have been some of the most stressful and demanding days as a music educator. I find myself in the interesting quandary of reaching a physical limit to the things I can focus my time and energy on. This is certainly not the first time in my life this has happened, but this time, it literally is having so many great things to be involved in and not being able to do it all. Writing for my website has been forced to take a cursory role to the demands of my full-time job. I still continue contracting work for ViaAcademies, keep up with my own private webcam students, and judge for Cavalcade of Bands in the fall.<br/><br/>In addition to this, I've added two new ventures to my plate - again part of the reason my work on the website has slowed considerably. I am now contracting as an arranger for my friend Shawn at <a href="http://valuevocals.com" target="_blank">Value Vocals</a> A Cappella Arrangements. Shawn has over 200 arrangements in his catalog and calls on me to work on custom arrangement orders when his plate gets full. Also, I am singing with a new semi-professional contemporary a cappella group called <a href="http://keystoneacappella.com" target="_blank">KeyStone A Cappella</a> You can read the details of how that all came about on the group's site. By all means, make sure you follow us on Twitter (@keystonevocals) and "like" our <a href="http://facebook.com/keystonevocals" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>. KeyStone is competing in a few weeks at the Harmony Sweepstakes Regional in Alexandria, VA. If you're anywhere in the area, <a href="http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/1500473CD1D6609A?artistid=1542080&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=107&LID=fb_201091036611503_bit__aKeyStone+A+Cappella__tpdirect__unon" target="_blank">buy tickets</a> and come hear us!<br/></font></div><p><br/></p><p><h3><font size="2">Recommendation of the Month</font></h3>

<div style="float: left; padding-right: 5px;"><a target="_blank" href="http://astore.amazon.com/thjwemu-20/detail/1594488843"><font size="2"></font><font size="2"><img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qJmBcma1L._SL125_.jpg"/></a><br/></font></div><div><p><font size="2"><a target="_blank" href="http://astore.amazon.com/thjwemu-20/detail/0199742766"><b>Using Technology to Unlock Music Creativity</b></a><b> by Scott Watson</b> </font>is a book I haven't even read yet, but can already highly recommend. Scott and I have interacted online on many occasions via the MPLN, and I have vigorously borrowed lesson ideas from his Music Production class' blog and wiki. If you have a music technology, music production, or digital music composition class in your high school, you need this book on your shelf.</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p><font>&#160;Pick up a copy <a target="_blank" href="http://astore.amazon.com/thjwemu-20/detail/0199742766">here</a>.</font></p><font size="2"><br/><br/><br/></font><h2><font size="2">January Most Visited Pages</font></h2><p><a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11705064-the-era-of-transparency-child-abuse-hazing-and-a-marching-band-near-you"><b>The Era Of Transparency, Child Abuse, Hazing, And A Marching Band Near You:</b></a> In this new age of transparency thanks to the Internet, regimes in the middle east have crumbled, skeletons are coming out of closets, and many situations that were "don't ask, don't tell" in the recent past are no longer socially acceptable. The more public your life and your work are, the more of a responsibility you have to operate with the highest levels of impeccability. And that means school band directors. <a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11705064-the-era-of-transparency-child-abuse-hazing-and-a-marching-band-near-you">Read more</a>. </p><p><br/></p><p><a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11409842-why-most-adults-would-never-choose-high-school-band-director-as-a-profession"><b>Why Most Adults Would Never Choose High School Band Director As A Career:</b></a> As those who are "in the trenches" know, being a band director has many rewards, but basically is self-imposed insanity with a modest to moderate salary attached. <a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11409842-why-most-adults-would-never-choose-high-school-band-director-as-a-profession">Read more</a>.</p><p><br/></p>

</div><div><p><font size="2"><a target="_blank" href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/4572631-teaching-jazz-improvisation-to-the-absolute-beginner"><b>Teaching Jazz Improvisation to the Absolute Beginner</b></a><b>: </b>One of the things that many music teachers struggle with is a way to teach jazz improvisation to beginners. In some cases, this is because the teacher themself has limited experience with jazz improvisation themself. Jazz improvisation, or improvisation of any kind, is an important facet of performing music that should be experienced by every performer. It is not, however, something that a beginner o....  <a target="_blank" href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/4572631-teaching-jazz-improvisation-to-the-absolute-beginner">Read more</a></font></p><div><b><br/></b></div><div><b><a target="_blank" href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/webcamlessons.htm">Online Webcam Music Lessons</a>:</b> As online learning continues to gain legitimacy in America, my webcam music lessons service continues to attract attention. I offer a free trial lesson to see if online music lessons are right for you. You can also earn a free lesson by referring a student who signs up as a new student. Visit <a target="_blank" href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/webcamlessons.htm">this page</a> for details. </div><div><br/><div><b><br/></b></div><div><b><a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11587377-best-online-tools-for-musicians">Best Online Tools For Musicians</a>:</b> This guest article from Elaine Hirsch highlights some of the most useful software apps for musicians and music educators. <a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/apps/blog/show/11587377-best-online-tools-for-musicians">Read more</a>.</div><div><br/></div><div><br/></div><div><a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/thetamusictrainer.htm"><b>Theta Music Trainer: Free Online Music Ear Training Games:</b></a> Educational gaming is a relatively new market, and the implications for the ways that young people learn are obvious. In like fashion, <a target="_blank" href="http://trainer.thetamusic.com/sgkh-ppm/tomwest732000378"><b>Theta Music Trainer</b></a> provides a body of games that teach basic ear training skills in pitch, rhythm, harmony, and even mixing live audio. These games are engaging, entertaining, and really do get kids to listen closely in graduated levels of difficulty. <a target="_blank" href="http://thomasjwestmusic.com/thetamusictrainer.htm">Read the full review</a><br/></div><p>&#160;</p><div><h2><font size="3"><font size="4">This Month's Practice Tip: Watch Master Performers At Work</font><br/></font></h2><div><br/></div><div>I have written before about the value of becoming an audience member and observing master performers work their magic. However, an even better practice is to attend the master's rehearsal sessions.</div><div><br/></div><div><br/></div><div>Many symphonies hold open rehearsal sessions. Band directors can easily find rehearsal sites of the top DCI drum corps on their websites and pay them a visit. And soloists will often provide workshops, master classes, or clinics.</div><div><br/></div><div>Recently, I hosted the 2nd Annual A Cappella Winter Workshop for <a href="http://projectphilly.org" target="_blank">The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia<a/>. It featured two nationally-known a cappella professionals presenting morning workshops and providing on-stage clinics for full groups in the afternoon. Their insight and experience was invaluable, and for my fledgling semi-pro group, <a href="http://keystoneacappella.com" target="_blank">KeyStone</a>, their commentary during our on-stage clinic was the shot in the arm that the group needed to take it to the next level.</div><div><br/></div><div><br/></div><div>Even if you are only an amateur, admiring the work of the professionals who dedicate their lives and livelihood to the craft is often the inspiration to take your practicing to the next level. Getting honest assessment of your performances from peers and skilled professionals is also a valuable experience. Just remember, at the end of the day, it's still <i>your</i> performance and <i>your</i> art, so your opinion is the one that matters most. Being inspired by and receiving feedback from the pros helps put a measuring stick to what you do, and hopefully provides the motivation to do more. If it produces the opposite effect, leave it behind you and move on.</div><div><br/></div><div><br/></div><p><font size="2">Until next time,</font></p>

<font size="2"><font size="2"><font size="2"><img alt="Tom" src="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/graphics/tomsig.bmp"/>

</font>

</font></font><p><font size="2">&#160;</font></p><hr/><font size="2"><font size="2"><font size="2"><font size="2"><span style="font-style: italic;">This newsletter (c) 2012 Thomas J. West. All content on ThomasJWestMusic dot com is licensed under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/us/">Creative Contributions Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License</a>. If you wish to reprint this article on another website or offline, please </span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/contact.htm">contact</a><span style="font-style: italic;"> the copyright holder before using.</span><br/><br/></font><span style="font-weight: bold;">If you find this website helpful, please <a href="http://www.thomasjwestmusic.com/donate.htm">make a donation</a>.</span></font></font></font><p><font size="2">&#160;</font></p>


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