Lucas Debard wins Great American Songbook Competition

Incoming freshman Lucas Debard, majoring in Music Education with a minor in Jazz Studies, is the 2015 winner of the Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador Award. The 18-year-old is from Lebanon, Ind. During the final concert, on July 25, he sang American standards “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” and a mash-up of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “I Have Dreamed.”

As the first place winner, Debard gets the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to perform with two-time Emmy- and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer and founder of The Great American Songbook Foundation, Michael Feinstein. The winner will serve as the Great American Songbook Youth Ambassador for one year and will have opportunities to perform throughout the year.

DeBard is a 2015 graduate of Lebanon High School. He was very active in the Lebanon High School Music Department as a member of Madrigals, Charisma Show Choir, musical casts, musical pit orchestras, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, and marching band. He plays weekly at Lebanon Christian Church at the youth service “4:12.” He has been a featured performer at Lebanon’s Back to the Fifties, fourth of July events, and Thorntown Festival of the Turning Leaves. This year, he received three Grand Champion awards at show choir solo competitions and received numerous music scholarships and awards. He teaches private lessons at the Little Black Box Theatre in Lebanon.

The Great American Songbook Foundation selected 40 students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Great American Songbook Academy from July 19-25 on the campus of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Ind. High school vocalists representing 16 states have worked with mentors that included Michael Feinstein, Tony-nominee and Broadway star Laura Osnes, and Grammy- winner Sylvia McNair. The mentors selected the Youth Ambassador at the end of the final performance.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Neil Hicks, IU JSOM Music Education student recognized with national award

Neil Hicks has been recognized by the National Association for Music Education
for his commitment and dedication to music education and has been awarded a
Professional Achievement Award. He has distinguished himself through his service
as an officer for the IU chapter of NAfME over the past several years and has
been instrumental in the success of the organization.

Neil Hicks is a senior from Chesterton, Indiana majoring in music education at the Indiana University (IU) Jacobs School of Music. Interested in all aspects of teaching
instrumental music, Neil is pursuing a dual degree in both band and orchestra
education, as well as minors in conducting and jazz studies. His principal
saxophone teachers at IU have been Otis Murphy and Thomas Walsh, and he has
played with the IU Concert and Symphonic Bands, the Jeremy Allen Big Band, the
Steve Allee Big Band, and the Marching Hundred. Neil has also served as the
president of IU’s collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music
Education and is an active member of the National Band Association. He is
currently student teaching at North Central High School near Indianapolis, where
he works with each of the four concert bands and two jazz bands in the program.
In his free time, Neil enjoys cooking and reading.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Jacobs Alums’ Recording Project Released

Lost in a kissJacobs alums Sean Baker (BM Jazz ’93) and John Porter (BME ’05, MME ’14) collaborated on crooner Peter Oprisko’s latest release entitled “Lost in a Kiss” this summer. The album, which was released on November 22, is available for purchase on Oprisko’s website.
Get Album Here:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Jacobs School of Music ranked #2 on the list of Top 10 Colleges for Music Education Majors in the US

Here Are the Top 10 Colleges for Music Education Majors In the US

By Bill Zuckerman


Music education is, without even a close second, the most popular college major musicians pursue in the United States.

The reasoning behind this is very simple – music education students have the highest rate of employment out all music majors just coming out of an undergraduate degree.

Music education graduates are needed at just about every public and private K-12 institution in the US that has a music program. The job market is, unlike with many other college majors and degrees, exceptionally favorable for music education graduates.

When making this list of the top music education colleges in the US, I looked at the employment rate of students who graduate with music education degrees at different schools, the depth and variety of research the specific program conducts, the strength, reputation, and publishing history of the faculty, what kinds of connections the school has to K-12 institutions in its area, the curriculum, and other factors, such as the overall strength of the school.

But before we talk about the top 10 colleges for music education majors, keep in mind a couple things when choosing the music education school best for you.

A music education program prepares you for statewide certification in the specific state you go to school in. So, while a school like Indiana University has a widely heralded and known music education program, if you don’t foresee yourself making a living in Indiana in your future, then perhaps it is not in your best interest to go to that particular school.

That said, you can still get certified in any state if you meet the requirements, it’s just the requirements do vary from state to state and it could take some extra work outside of just your degree to meet the minimum requirements.

There are other tips you should know about when choosing a career in music education – this article published in late October can give you some ideas.

Ok, so let’s get into it – here are the top 10 colleges for music education majors in the US…


2. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music – Bloomington, IN


Long considered one of the foremost colleges for music education in the entire US, Indiana University’s music education graduates frequently enjoy a near 100% employment rate at various Indiana K-12 schools. The program not only provides an exceptionally well-rounded curriculum to its music education majors, but also allows students to choose a music education focus in one of four major areas: choral, general, band, and orchestra. No matter what your goals as a student are at this major music education hub, you will find a program that fits your interests well.

An exceptionally well-rounded institution we recently qualified as the best overall music school in the US, music education majors at IU never run out of opportunities to perform in music ensembles at the school. There is never an orchestra spot, choir seat, or other specialty ensemble that can’t be filled with an aspiring music teacher. IU is an excellent choice for those who wish to double major in both an elite performance and education program.

Additionally, the schools provides students with the opportunity to work with major music education associations as well as with public music teachers who already have years of experience under their belt. Student apprentice teaching, of course, is a requirement of all music education majors as well.

At the graduate level, the level and depth of research that students explore at IU are fascinating, rich, and exceptionally varied. Some topics that the college’s published Philosophy of Music Education Review include examinations of musical instruction using MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) based composition, the evolution of systems utilized in music education, the implications of free improvisation in the classroom, and the relationships between music and spirituality.

The faculty at the program is second to none, and includes notable music education researchers and professors such as Brent Gault, past president of the Organization of Kodaly Educators, and Patrice Ward-Steinman, a widely published author in the field of music education.


Read the full article here:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Madura’s 7th book is out!

MaduraVocal Improvisation Games For Singers and Choral Groups

by Jeffrey Agrell / Patrice Madura Ward-Steinman

“This book is a must-have resource for all choral music educators. The extensive collection of vocal games is phenomenal. They are presented clearly and simply, providing teachers and students an excellent entry point to learning improvisation while also giving more experienced improvisers effective tools for teaching and sharing their creative art. The authors also clearly demonstrate the importance of teaching improvisation as a part of a comprehensive musicianship pedagogy that includes both literate and aural traditions.”


Brad Rees

Director of the award-winning a cappella group Up in the Air

Music Department Director

Tiffin University, Tiffin, Ohio


“This book should be required reading for every person studying music education, vocal pedagogy, musical performance, elementary education, and/or life-long musicianship. The games provide a natural conduit for individual self-expression rooted in one’s authentic self. With regular incorporation of these games into our classrooms, choirs, and lives, we can delve easily and playfully into our own individual self-expressive beauty, and our instructional repertoire and tools will increase exponentially. Instrumentalists, dancers, and actors could also experience significant artistic growth using this excellent resource. It is a must-have for all vocal pedagogues and lovers of music making.”


Mary L. Cohen

Associate Professor of Music Education

University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa


“Agrell and Madura have written an extraordinary book that has application for teaching and artistry in a wide range of settings. Improvisation is central to music making. Agrell and Madura assist both the uninitiated and the experienced singer and teacher to develop vocal improvisation in an atmosphere of challenge and inspiration. I highly recommend this book to all who value the voice and appreciate its potential as a creative instrument.”


Andre de Quadros

Professor of Music, Boston University


“Although the National Standards for the Arts have been an established foundation of music education for many years now, the use of #3 (improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments) still escapes me. Usually, I just ignore it and hope no one notices. How on earth would I include jazz  in my traditional concert choir of 100 students? But in my heart as a music educator, I understand the value of training young musicians. The problem is figuring out how to make it happen.

Vocal Improvisation Games may just be the answer. It is a hands-on, how-to guide with exercises that show jazz is not the only kind of improvisation, and that improvisation can be incorporated in any kind of music making. The games are typically short and inclusive and can be built into the warm-up routine of any ensemble. I am looking forward to including many of these ideas in my daily rehearsals this school year and not hiding from standard #3 any longer!”


Dr. Randi Carp

Choral director, Phoenixville High School, Phoenixville, PA

ACDA Eastern Regional Show Choir Repertoire and Standards Chair


Why don’t classical musicians improvise? Why do jazz players get to have all the fun? And how do improvisers develop such fabulous technique and aural skills?

With this book, Jeffrey Agrell and Patrice Madura Ward-Steinman open the door to improvisation for all non-jazz musicians who thought it was beyond their ability to play extemporaneously. Gently, step by step, Agrell and Madura lead us through a series of games rather than exercises. The game format takes the pressure off of classically trained musicians, steering them away from their fixation on mistake-free performance and introducing the basic concepts of playing with music itself instead of obsessing over a perfect rendition of a written score.

States authors: “Playing duets from the ink is fun and full of musical vitamins, but it needs a complimentary aural approach to develop all-around musicianship.” Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups provide that complementary approach.

Price : $18.95

GIA Publications, Inc. | 7404 South Mason Avenue | Chicago, IL 60638


Copyright © 2014 GIA Publications, Inc.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Professor Patrice Madura summer national activities and publications

MaduraPatrice Madura, professor of music education, presented a paper titled “Shifting Paradigms in Music Education Research” with Jacobs Professor Emerita Estelle Jorgensen at the NAfME Historical Research in Music Education conference in St. Augustine, Fla., in May 2014.

Madura also presented her new study, “Descriptive Characteristics of High-Achieving Secondary School Choral Music Teachers,” at the Indiana Choral Directors Association conference on July 2.

In addition, she spent five days in June in Salt Lake City, Utah, serving as national vocal jazz chair, in planning the national ACDA conference to be held there in February 2015

Her other accomplishments over the summer include:

Madura Ward-Steinman, P. (in press).  Choral Pedagogy Responds to the Media: Glee, The Voice, The Sing-Off, American Idol…  In Frank Abrahams & Paul D. Head  (Editors) Handbook of Choral Pedagogy.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Agrell, J. & Madura Ward-Steinman, P. (in press). Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups. Chicago: GIA. Mark, M. L. & Madura, P. (2014). Contemporary Music Education, 4th Ed. Boston: adsworth/Cengage Learning.

Jorgensen, E. R. & Madura Ward-Steinman, P. (in press). Shifting Paradigms in Music Education Research (1953-1978): A Theoretical and Quantitative Re-Assessment.  Journal of Research in Music Education.

Madura Ward-Steinman, P. (2014).  The Vocal Improviser-Educator: An Analysis of selected American and Australian Educators’ Influences and Pedagogical Views.  International Journal of Music Education, 32(3), 346-359. doi:10.1177/0255761413515801

Madura, P. (2014, August).  Developing Improvisation Skill and the Confidence to Teach It.  Choral Journal, 55(1), 59-61.








  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Natalie Boeyink awarded Tinker Grant for summer study in Brazil

Natalie Boeyink, a doctoral candidate in music education and a jazz bassist, was awarded a Tinker Grant for summer study in Brazil. Spanning three weeks and five cities, her research centered on Brazilian bass styles and the pedagogy of popular music in Brazil.

She took the opportunity to study with Grammy-winning bassist Paulo Paulelli and Itibere Zwarg, bassist for Hermeto Pascoal. In addition to applying what she learned to playing with her trio, 

Boeyink plans to present her findings in master classes and conference presentations.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

John Porter and Sean Baker Collaborate on Recording Session

john porterJacobs alum John Porter conducted a recording session for crooner Peter Oprisko on June 11 at the Chicago Recording Company in Downtown Chicago.  Touted as the Rolls-Royce of singers, Oprisko evokes the cool, smooth vocal stylings of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin with contemporary flair.

The marathon session yielded approximately 15 tracks for Oprisko’s forthcoming release, “Lost in a Kiss,” a concept album focusing on one particularly intimate expression of love.  Standards and original material were arranged by Jacobs alum and Indianapolis musician Sean Baker.  While writing in a style all his own, Baker gives the occasional polite nod to the likes of Henry Mancini, Pete Rugolo, Nelson Riddle, and even the Carpenters.

“These charts aren’t about virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake,” Baker explains, “rather complementing the singer and the song itself.  One might sound like it belongs in a 007 film while another pays homage to Glenn Miller.” Adding with a chuckle, “I just hope the composers of these things aren’t turning over in their graves!”

This occasion marked Porter’s first time conducting a studio orchestra.  Not quite knowing what to expect, he simply dove into the project head-first.

“Some moments were purely about the music while others were all about directing traffic,” Porter recalls. “You’ve got headphones on and the band and voices are coming at you from six different rooms.  It can be quite jarring.  I had the choice of letting it get to me or buckling down and getting the job done. Fortunately for me, Sean’s innately musical arrangements, not to mention the talented musicians we worked with, made it all the easier.”

Selections on “Kiss” will range from walking ballads to up-tempo swingers backed by jazz combo, string orchestra, and big band.  Postproduction work on the album will take place at Bloomington’s Airtime Studio this summer to expedite a hopeful September release.

Porter holds degrees in Music Education from Indiana University, where he minored in wind conducting and conducted his graduate research in jazz improvisation pedagogy.

Baker holds a degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University. “Lost in a Kiss” is Baker’s fourth recording project with Oprisko.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Dr. Brenner selected to be National ASTA President-Elect

We would like to share the amazing news with everyone and congratulate our very own INASTA member, Dr. Brenda Brenner (IU Jacobs School of Music) for being selected as the new NATIONAL ASTA PRESIDENT-ELECT!!


Dr. Brenner will be an amazing source of inspiration to all string teachers throughout the world we are SO proud to call her one of our very own! We look forward to her incredible leadership! You can read more about Dr. Brenner here: Please join me in congratulating her! She can be reached at:



  • Facebook
  • Twitter

IU music school pairs with Templeton to teach first-graders to play guitar

Chris McConnell gives a class of first-graders some pointers as he leads a guitar lesson last week at Templeton Elementary School.

Chris McConnell gives a class of first-graders some pointers as he leads a guitar lesson last week at Templeton Elementary School.

By Mary Keck

First-graders at Templeton Elementary School are pickin’ and grinnin’ with the help of the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Their guitars are half-sized, yet the instruments look huge on the knees of the little learners. That doesn’t mean they can’t make a big sound, however.

“They’re good at loud,” Katy Strand said with a laugh. She is an associate professor of music at Indiana University. Twice a week, Strand, Chris McConnell, Petar Jankovic and assistants who are music education and performance majors at IU meet up with Kathy Nesbitt’s first-grade class.

During each lesson, 23 students can be heard down the halls as they sing and strum songs such as “Jingle Bells” under the guidance of McConnell, a graduate of IU’s music education program. The trick to teaching such a young group is “keeping activities short and moving from one to another,” McConnell said.

The students start with a chant as they take their instruments from their cases. “Left hand neck and right hand body. Turn it sideways very gently. On the left knee like a cradle. Rock the baby just a little,” they said in unison.

First-grader Alonzo Harvey practices his guitar-playing technique last week at Templeton Elementary School.

First-grader Alonzo Harvey practices his guitar-playing technique last week at Templeton Elementary School.

The chant helps the students learn not only how to hold a guitar, but also how to care for the instrument. The half-size guitars were donated to the program by Yamaha, and the C chord is marked with a small, orange sticker, while the G7 chord has a green sticker.

“Show me your best posture,” McConnell reminded them, and the first-graders sat up straight on their stools. When he announced they’d be playing “Jingle Bells,” the class erupted in cheers and wiggles. Once McConnell got them settled down again, the young musicians not only strummed the guitars, they also sang while they played and read notation.

“Jingle Bells” lyrics were displayed on a screen at the front of the room, and at the end of each line was a colored bell icon. One orange bell meant one strum on the C chord, while two green bells meant two strums with G7 held down. “Bite down on the orange chord,” McConnell instructed as they played, and the students pressed down on the string with their tiny fingers. Then, he guided them along, counting, “1, 2, 3, rest.”

The students watched McConnell and listened carefully, eager to brush their fingertips against the strings at just the right moment. If they needed help, one of the assistants walked over and helped them with their fingering or reminded them of how the guitar should be held. “Several assistants allows the lead teacher to keep class moving while kids get the individual attention they need,” Strand said.

While holiday tunes were popular with the little musicians, they also liked Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” When he chooses music for the first-graders, McConnell said, he tries to pick simple tunes, such as one- or two-chord folk songs.

Nevaeh Hicks, a first-grader at Templeton Elementary School, strums along last week as her class gets a lesson on playing the guitar.

Nevaeh Hicks, a first-grader at Templeton Elementary School, strums along last week as her class gets a lesson on playing the guitar.

According to Strand, plucking at the guitar strings to make music offers a variety of benefits. “They know how to hold an instrument properly and produce a sound,” she said. Although the experience may not cause a particular love of the guitar, integrating the instrument into music class will introduce the children to various types of musical learning. They use small digit technical skills, learn rhythms and chants and how to sing on pitch and perform expressively while reading notation.

It also instills confidence and opens up future possibilities. “At 6, they can say, ‘I know how,’” Strand said.

“It means so much that they can just say they played,” Jankovic said. He hopes the program will expand in the future. “We want to plant a seed that will be taken to other schools,” he said.

Even within Templeton, the program’s scope has grown. This is the third year for the students to play guitar, but it is the first time they’ve been able to access the instrument for the entire year. The increased exposure allows McConnell and the volunteers from IU to track the students’ progress. “Learning to play any instrument takes time,” Strand said. “We are very excited about the success that the kids are experiencing with the guitars!”

© Herald Times 2013


  • Facebook
  • Twitter