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STRINGS

This Green Paper, submitted by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), outlines ASTA’s vision for strings and orchestra in the 21st century, presents obstacles to achieving that vision, and offers strategies for overcoming those obstacles.

Green Paper Authoring Organization: American String Teachers Association

STRINGS

Michael Gagliardo

Musical Director
Etowah Youth Orchestras
Gadsden, AL

Michael R. Gagliardo was named the second Music Director and Conductor of the Etowah Youth Orchestras in August of 1995. Since his appointment, he has led the EYO to national recognition, including the receipt of ten ASCAP Awards for Programming of Contemporary Music. Under Mr. Gagliardo's direction, the Orchestras have performed numerous concerts throughout the United States and Great Britain, including "by-invitation" performances at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers for the Performing Arts.

Mr. Gagliardo has served as Guest Conductor of the 2009 and 1997 Alabama All-State Orchestra Festival, the 2008 Colorado All-State Orchestra Festival, and the 2003 All-West Tennesse Honor Orchestra Festival Senior Orchestra.

Mr. Gagliardo received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Music Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Ball State University. He has served as a presenter at the League of American Orchestras’ National Conference, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame's Summer Teacher's Institute, the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference, and the ASTA National Conference. He currently serves as the Chair of the 2010 National High School Honors Orchestra for ASTA.
Mr. Gagliardo is the founder and CEO of Wonder Dog Press and Daphne Roo Music,. He resides in Glencoe, Alabama, with his wife Melia and their four dogs, Daphne, Lady, Jake, and Gracie.

 

Original STRINGS Green Paper:

Strings (pdf, 94KB)

STRINGS

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Michael R. Gagliardo

Back in July I received a comment on a blog post, after asking readers what the subject of my next blog post should be.  One reader, Denise, chimed in with the topic of “persuading school systems and communities to recognize the foundational importance of classical music and cultivating a lifelong appreciation.”  I like it.

I’m currently teaching a class for the University of Alabama’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  In a nutshell, OLLI is a program that is designed for “mature adults” with the basic premise being “learning for the pure joy of learning.”

What a great concept!  Adults come and take classes on music, history, computers, languages – you name it.  There are no tests, no homework, no age limitations – just an open, exciting learning environment where students who share common interests come to brush up on things they are already familiar with, or to add new learning experiences.

It begs the question – how do we take this love of and desire for learning and transfer it from the world of “mature adults” to the realm of those we should be working hard every day to reach – young people? Read the rest of this entry »

Michael R. Gagliardo

It’s been a while.  I must admit, I’ve neglected my duty as a blogger.  What can I say – I can offer all kinds of excuses, but I don’t know if I really buy them myself.  The end of the summer and the beginning of the school year is always a busy time for those of us in arts education, true.  I’m biased, but I think for musicians it’s just a little busier than for others.  So I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the new season.  There were auditions to administer, and music to prepare, and folders to stuff, and meetings with new and returning parents to be held, and all of the things that go along with starting up the new year.

And then, just when you think things are settling down, there are the other things that come about.  The creation of a new program was one for the Etowah Youth Orchestras.  And with that came an entirely new set of start-up duties.  After that, there was the donor relations work, and the grant writing, and the planning and promotion and recruiting for school programs.  There’s just so much to do! Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the second half of an interview between Alie Wickham and Mike Gagliardo, the ambassadors for the two green paper topics: Arts in Healthcare and Strings. Alie and Mike discuss how the green papers have approached a vision of the future.

The first half of their interview can be found here.

Check out this first part of an interview between Alie Wickham and Mike Gagliardo, the ambassadors for the two green paper topics: Arts in Healthcare and Strings. Alie and Mike discuss arts advocacy as it relates to the arts and also touch on the state of the economy and healthcare reform.  In next week’s conclusion of the interview, they will discuss how the green papers have approached a vision of the future.

Michael Gagliardo

In my last Green Paper post, I wrote about the cuts being made by the Culver County School System in Indiana.  The cuts, which were radical to say the least, were designed to save the strings program in the Culver County Schools.  They involved eliminating strings from instruments, having the school orchestras march at the halftime of football games, and having instrument repair work performed by state inmates in correctional facilities.  Outrageous.  But here’s the rub.

There is no Culver County, Indiana.  There is no town of Ford Creek.  Paul LaCosta, Bud Parker, and Beth Ann Pederson are fictional characters. The entire press release was a work of fiction. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative thinking when it comes to funding the arts, and especially when it comes to my home discipline of music, specifically string and orchestral music.  After all, as our Green Paper states, part of our vision is to “protect these programs from economic uncertainty.”  But this one caught even me off guard!

FORD CREEK, IN, June 24, 2010 – Officials and board members with the Culver County School System have devised a way to save the system’s threatened strings program without cutting services to students.  “After a great deal of discussion, we have come up with solutions that we feel will allow us to continue to offer the strings program in our schools, and at the same time will address the current economic concerns of the system,” stated Culver County Superintendent of Schools Paul LaCosta. Read the rest of this entry »

We could all learn a lot from the people of Costa Rica.

I’m a little biased now, having just come back from the greatest tour ever with the students of the Etowah Youth Orchestras.  I spent nine days touring Costa Rica with 37 members of the EYO.  It was an incredible experience.  The food was fantastic.  The wildlife was remarkable.  The scenery took your breath away.

We learned much about the country and its people.  Our guide was first-rate – she knew everything there is to know about the culture and the ecosystem of this beautiful country. 

But our biggest lesson was one we took directly from the people we came in contact with over the course of our journey.  We learned about community. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael R. Gagliardo

I started out as a band kid.  While my parents started me on piano lessons when I was in the 3rd grade, and I found it to be interesting (as long as I got to play what I wanted to play!), I think my interest in music was really sparked when I started playing the trumpet in the school band in the 5th grade.  By the time I got to middle school, I was hooked, and was headed down that path of musical obsession – if there was a school group or a church or a wedding that needed a trumpet over the next six years, I was the go-to guy.  So how did I get involved with strings? Read the rest of this entry »

I started out as a band kid. While my parents started me on piano lessons when I was in the 3rd grade, and I found it to be interesting (as long as I got to play what I wanted to play!), I think my interest in music was really sparked when I started playing the trumpet in the school band in the 5th grade. By the time I got to middle school, I was hooked, and was headed down that path of musical obsession – if there was a school group or a church or a wedding that needed a trumpet over the next six years, I was the go-to guy.

So how did I get involved with strings? It’s really simply – I had an instrumental music teacher in middle school who wasn’t just a band guy. He also conducted the school’s orchestra. That’s correct – not the school’s string class – the school’s ORCHESTRA. When I was in middle school, for two years, I played trumpet in a full orchestra. When I got to high school, we had TWO full orchestras, PLUS a pit orchestra for the annual school musical, where we played shows like “South Pacific” and “My Fair Lady.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Some people may argue that the holiday season is really the busiest time of the year, but ask a teacher, and they’re likely to tell you a different story.  And ask a music teacher, and…well, ask a music teacher if you can catch one right now.

You see, things are a little different for music teachers.  Not to take anything away from educators in any other subject, mind you, but things are a little different for those of us in the music profession.  Like any other teacher, we’re thinking about the end of the year.  That means, first and foremost, performances.  Every ensemble has its own end-of-the-year concert to present.  And with these concerts come things like senior soloists and special honors and traditional tributes.  Plus, there are the awards banquets and the honor ceremonies and the special community events that come at the end of the school year, and each would not be complete without some kind of musical accompaniment – provided, of course, by the school choir or brass ensemble or string quartet, led by the capable and (by this time of year) completely exhausted director.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m sitting in the auditorium at Cullman High School in Cullman, Alabama, while over 100 middle and high school musicians rehearse on stage.  There are wind, brass, and percussion players; a full choir; drums, guitar, and bass; and of course, the string section.  Right now Mark Wood, formerly of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Laura Kaye are putting the group though its paces.  They are cranking out an energetic version of “Born to Be Wild,” the piece that will close the first half of tonight’s performance.  Everyone is involved.  Everyone is engaged. 

I’m here because the orchestra director at Cullman Middle and High Schools asked me to bring my students to help support her young orchestra program.  We have worked with Mark several times in the past, and we always have a great time performing with him.  When we received the call, we jumped at the opportunity.  In the process, our musicians have had the opportunity to meet other players who share the common interest – a love of making music.  At the end of the night, when the final chord has sounded, and the thunderous applause had faded, my students will have met new friends, new connections, who share this common bond.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Today I took about 60 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to hear a performance by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.  For most of these students, it was the first time they had ever heard a live performance by a symphony orchestra – for some of them it may be have been the first time they had heard a symphony orchestra AT ALL.  The funny thing is, they’re all string players.  They are all a part of our in-school string program, and they’ve all been playing for at least seven months.  But if it weren’t for today’s performance, they may have gone through their two years of string classes without ever hearing an orchestra perform.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The American String Teachers Association’s second principle in our vision for the future of string and orchestral music education deals with “influencing policy at the local, state, and national levels to promote the arts as a core component of a well-rounded education and of thriving communities.”

If we are going to influence policy, who do we need to sell on the benefits of string and orchestral music education to do so?  Who are the people who, on all levels, would be our best advocates? 

I would hypothesize that the answer can be found in the last two words of this second principle – “thriving communities.”  Take a look at the communities where the arts play a key roll in the health of the area.  Those are the communities that understand the importance of the cultural element.  My own current hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, is a perfect example.  The downtown area, once despondant and going the way of many small downtowns in the United States, has enjoyed a resurgence in the past 20 years, including occupancy rates over 80% and a monthly downtown festival, First Friday, that is ranked among the best in the Southeast.  When did the change occur?  When the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts became the occupant of an otherwise vacant department store in the heart of downtown. Read the rest of this entry »

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The vision of the future of music education, as it relates to string instruments and orchestras, has been succinctly stated in five points by the American String Teachers’ Association.  Let’s take a look at these points and see in what direction they are pointing us.

First, ASTA’s vision includes “providing access to strings and orchestra for all children, protecting these programs from economic uncertainty, and teaching members how to advocate for these programs.”  That’s a tall order.  It’s not that string music educators aren’t up to the task, and it’s not that it’s too much to ask.  Those of us in the profession are doing this every day, to a certain extent.  Some of us are doing more than others – but that’s not the fault of those who are doing less.  The truth of the matter is that many younger members of our profession aren’t being taught how to advocate and how to fight for our programs. Read the rest of this entry »

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I am now a little over four days removed from attendance at an event that reinforced my belief in my profession.  Not that I really needed any reinforcement – I have always believed in the work that we do – but every once in a while it’s nice to experience a moment that solidifies all of the thoughts and reasons we have for our work.

I spent last week in Santa Clara, California, with 120 high school students from 32 states.  The event was the National High School Honors Orchestra, and I had the honor of serving as the chair for the event.  With the help of a hand-picked staff of eleven of the best music educators (and dear friends) from all over the country, the guidance of the phenomenal Maestro Raymond Harvey, and lots of administrative assistance from the talented ASTA staff, we brought these 120 individuals together on Tuesday afternoon for a week that one student would later refer to as “one of the best experiences of my life.” Read the rest of this entry »

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