The world of band directing has changed over the past few years as a result of the increasing pace of technological development.
Contest preparation when I first started teaching way back in August of 2002 went something like this:
I began by digging through the CDs that I picked up each year at music conventions to find recordings of some of the band music that might be available. Then I picked up my copy of the UIL Prescribed Music List to see what was on the list. At this point, I went back to the recordings and tried to find whichever of the tunes I had on CD so I could listen. If a friend recommended a piece I couldn’t hear, they would send me a tape of another area band playing it or just assure me that it was worth checking out.
I still consult friends about pieces, but there are some phenomenal recording projects that have been done over the last few years with high-caliber university wind ensembles playing middle school level music. Additionally, most of the music publishers are now online or have recordings available on music dealer websites. The UIL PML (and I assume other state contest lists) is available online in an electronic format that can easily and quickly be searched.
These eight websites have recordings of most of the music that I need†to listen to for my contest programming:
- Alfred Music Publishing
Alfred has one of the most comprehensive libraries for young band. With composers such as Robert W. Smith and Michael Story, the Alfred library is teeming with great recordings. The publishers of the Accent on Achievement band method series, Alfred Music has a slick Flash player on its website where you can listen to their recordings as well as an online store for purchasing MP3s.
- Hal Leonard Online
Hal Leonard is the second (alphabetically) of the major music publishers. Hal Leonard is the publisher of the Essential Elements 2000 band method along with the numerous titles in the Essential Elements 2000 Concert Band series. The Hal Leonard site also includes recordings for Curnow Music, Musicworks, Rubank, and Boosey & Hawkes.
- Manhattan Beach Music
Manhattan Beach is a small publisher with a handful of great composers. Frank Ticheli, Bob Margolis, and Timothy Broege are some of the more prolific names. One of the coolest features of their website is that there is a page with all of the MP3 recordings on it where you are encouraged to download for personal use.
- Neil A. Kjos Music Company
The Kjos company also includes the entire Queenwood catalog. Though many of the pieces are not recorded, there are a fair number that are and any middle school band director would be remiss if they didn’t at least consider a John Edmondson of Anne McGinty composition once in a while.
- TRN Music
TRN is a †small music publisher with a handful of great compositions. Many of their publications are available in MP3 format on their website. You can purchase all of their recordings in one neat simple download. You can also browse their Texas UIL list.
- JW Pepper
J.W. Pepper is a national sheet music distributor and they have some MP3s on their own site and actually link to the audio file on many of the publishers above. This is where I usually go to listen to music.
- Penders Music
Penders is located in Denton, TX and has a huge stock of readily available music. Pretty much every (currently in print) piece I’ve looked for on the Penders Website has a recording available. They even have a cool list of just the Texas UIL PML, many of which have recordings.