Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crowdsourcing for Aspiring Musicians

By Musicteachers911 contributing writer, Marina Salsbury
A relatively new phenomenon among musicians that was born on the capabilities of high speed Internet connections is crowdsourcing. A PhD program level definition by Merriam-Webster describes the concept as, “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” In other words, crowdsourcing uses the internet to scale projects at a level and efficiency never known before. The respected dictionary site also states that the first known use of the word was in 2006.

With traditional avenues of distribution steadily losing market share, an individual or band needs to expand their outreach to fans through innovative ways. In today’s tech-savvy landscape, fans have come to expect a more personal way of connecting to their favorite artists. Crowdsourcing offers a way to not only do so but also a way in which to tap into the creativity of their listeners.

The popularity of mash-ups is an example of how the idea can be effectively implemented. Bands such as Nine Inch Nails have reached out to their fans seeking these clever re-mixes. Posting stems of a song on the Internet, the band allowed listeners to download and mix to their hearts content. Some of the results were compelling, but by doing this they achieved an even more important goal. They have increased fan loyalty which translates into more sales.

A related track is posting free music. British progressive rock band Marillion garnered increased sales after posting a recent album in its entirety. Those downloading were required to watch a short video from the band plainly explaining what they were trying to accomplish. Other artists have reported exponential increases in sales after posting free music.

YouTube is another essential channel for today’s musician. Even simple videos engender a greater connection with fans when posted. There is also the distant promise of one’s video going viral. Don’t scoff; stranger things have happened.

A different type of outlet being utilized today is Kickstarter. Their website offers applicants a way to finance projects by seeking donations from interested parties. An artist submits a project through
their website. They offer certain incentives such as their new album for a twenty-five dollar donation. Kickstarter then either approves the project or asks you to tweak it some more. Once online, you have a deadline (set by you) to raise the amount of funds you are seeking. By harnessing the collective ability of the internet to finance large-scale projects, Kickstarter has helped many aspiring musicians self-produce and distribute their music.

Crowdsourcing is just the tip of the iceberg in outreach to fans. Other Internet avenues such as Facebook and ReverbNation are also excellent avenues to pursue. If an artist or band uses all of these to make the fans their most important resource, they will find their popularity on the increase.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Plan B?

Last night, I was to play piano with an 18 piece swing band for a local Christian radio shows remote broadcast at a local attraction, The Christmas farm. Every year this farm displays over one million lights depicting the life of Christ. The venue is truly spectacular.

The show was started at 4 pm. We were recording two broadcasts, one at 5 and one at 7 (with a short rehearsal for bumper music in between).

The first show started off great. Then, the clock struck 5:30, the time when the light displays are to be illuminated. That is when everything got very dark!

Needless to say, one million Christmas lights, a 32 channel PA, and 1000 watt radio transmitter tend to draw more than it's share of electrical power. I think I actually heard the transformer "POP" over the sound of all our horns.

So there we were, the live audience, a swing band, the radio show hosts all sitting in total darkness.

Then, a small Christmas moment occurred.

From the crowd, a tiny flame from a cigarette lighter startd to flicker. It was immediately followed by another lighting one of the hundreds of Christmas candles that were for sale in the Christmas store.

From the dim glow, I saw a very old church piano near the stage. I grabbed the music and winked at the band leader. He knew in an instant what I was scheming.

"The show must go on!" he said.

One by one, audience members entered the stage bearing candles. The church piano was so old that it had candle holders mounted on either side of the music tray. I couldn't help but wonder how many carols were played by candle light by church musicians before electricity became the norm.

Since the show was no longer broadcasting, the pressure was off as we were pretty much free to do whatever we felt like.

I started playing "Silent Night" as one by one, the horns entered improvising luscious harmonies. The crowd sang rather well and the moment was truly inspiring.

After about 20 minutes of traditional carols shared by audience and band alike, the power was restored. Personally, I was a little disappointed as this signaled we had to re-enter the 21st century and get back to work.

The shows continued, uninterrupted.

Afterwords, everyone was musing about how the carol sing was the best part of the evening.

My mind hearkened back to a time long ago in Bethlehem where the first Christmas miracle lay in a lowly manger lit by candles an ancient torches.

After forty plus years of performing, one thing I have learned is that there is always a "Plan B".

Luckily, last nights Plan B was the best part of all!

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be Happy, make money

Be Happy, make money

It's no secret that December is the biggest money making month for professional musicians (with June weddings as a close second).

With this years holiday events abounding, I am totally booked up with great paying gigs, while many of my more talented musicians friends aren't nearly as busy.

Wonder why?

There is much more to being a professional musician than musicallity (although that is a big part).

Your overall persona is a HUGE factor when an event committee is choosing just the right form of entertainment.

1. If it's a Holiday gig, I wear FESTIVE clothing. Sometimes, it's a Santa Hat, of maybe a cheery bright red Christmas tie.

2. I arrive early at each venue THRILLED to be there! I show that I am honored to have been selected to be a part of their very special occasion. To me, every performance is a special occasion.

3. During the breaks, I mingle with the crowd and am genuinely interested in how they will be spending the holidays I really listen to them and play all requests ( even if I've already played the same songs before).

4. I am especially attentive to any kids in attendance (being an elementary teacher gives me an advantage as I can dial in on the special interests of each age group).
You would be surprised at how many children of event planners beg their folks to have me back at annual events.

5. Nobody wants a sour puss at the party!
You have an opportunity to be much more than a musician. You can be the "pied piper" leading the crowd to an evening of exciting and cherished memories.

6. Accept payment with a grateful heart and let the host know that it was the best event that you have played all year. Compliment the decor and the quality of attendees.

7. Trade their check for a bunch of your business cards. Many future gigs depend on having your contact info handy when their guests ask them about hiring you for their future events like those upcoming June wedding.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hostile Takeover!

Well, after forty plus years of playing professionally, I still encounter situations that educate, and yes, frustrate.

Case in point?

I was to play electric bass guitar in a combo hired to accompany a local college choir for their concert.

Like the good band mate that I am, I packed my bass and rather large (and quite heavy amp) to the music building auditorium. Although I am pushing sixty, I would rather strain myself for a few minutes before the performance, than suffer emotionally hearing my bass part played through an inferior, yet much lighter amp. I also owe it to the director, students and other band members to give it my best.

Then enter the guitar player with an amp the size of a two-slice toaster!

After the first selection, he reached over with his guitar cord in hand and said, "I can't hear myself over the band, mind if I plug into your amp?"

Before I could answer, he unplugged my bass from channel one, and reinserted me into the aux channel and plugged his ax where I was.

Instantly, the bass tone tanked, and my instrument was speaking softer than his guitar was before the switch.

But wait...............

it gets worse!

The next song was a slow ballad in which the guitarist played some really sour clunkers!

The director, horns and rest of the rhythm section glared at me as the offending tonal onslaught was coming from my amp set-up. (For those who don't play guitar or bass, the lowest notes of the guitar overlap the highest notes of the bass. Therefore, if the chord chart calls for a G chord in the first inversion (G/B), the guitar is actually playing a third lower than the bass note).


A muddy gloppy sludge of low tones a major third apart trying to be produced by the same speaker.

So what to do?

Do I suffer in silence and keep a brave face as the everyone grimaces at me?

Do I start a nasty input fight on stage which takes the focus from those college students who have worked hard all semester for this night?

What would you have done?

write me at:


I would love your opinion on this.

Back to the story.........

So what did I do?

You'll have to wait for the next post to hear that, and the summery of your responses.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Can you hear me now?

Last week, I was playing bass for a local gospel festival. I was the resident bass player for every gospel choir at the event. Some choirs had as few as five members while others had over sixty.

As the house PA system was rather small, so there was no direct box for me and I was to balance my instrument with the choirs by adjusting the volume of the bass amp onstage. The biggest problem with that scenario is that it's impossible to know if my bass is balanced with the mix from the back of the hall since I am onstage.


I gave the sound engineer for the vocals my cell phone number and asked him to to text me at the beginning of each group to let me know if the bass was overpowering or inaudible.

I then placed my phone on my music stand. Within 30 seconds of the first numbers, my phone would vibrate and display the text instructing me to turn up or down.

It worked like a dream.

Good gigging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Music Teacher Power!

Music Teachers,

Ever feel helpless about the conditions in your neighborhood or workplace?

Fear not!

This Tuesday, November 8th, is the perfect opportunity to find your inner Teacher Power!


By making informed selections at the ballot box, you decide your state and local representatives and which agenda they promote.

Cut taxes or social programs?

Big business or labor?

Educational funding increases or cuts.

November 12 is Veteran's Day. Many in our armed forces made the ultimate sacrifice to insure your right vote. Please respect them and exercise your civic duty by casting your vote.

Good Gigging!

Larry Marra

Friday, October 14, 2011

College Musicians

(by musicteachers911 featured writer, Marina Salsbury)

College Musicians

One of the most common stereotypes among budding musicians is that of the starving artist, and nowhere is this stereotype more true than in college. Many college musicians find it a challenge to balance their music, college courses, family, and work, all while trying to maintain a social life and pay their bills. Juggling all these elements can become difficult, but it's very possible for college musicians to keep up with it all.

One of the biggest obstacles for college musicians are the costs involved with playing music. Professional instruments can reach into the thousands of dollars, traveling to and from gigs can be a heavy financial burden, and to top it all off most college musicians don't get paid much. The truth is many college musicians end up playing bars and coffeehouses, and these gigs typically pay either a percentage of the door or might just pay in free drinks. It's not until performers have built up a name for themselves that they can begin to expect to make any kind of real money, and this could take years to achieve. As a result, many college musicians end up taking part-time jobs on the side to help fund their ambitions.

College musicians also have to try to balance a social life with their aspirations, which can be difficult at times. Between practicing, performing, and writing music, a college musician may not have time to hang out with friends or go out. Thankfully, musicians often form friendships through their music, either with fans or with other performers, and so music becomes a social network unto itself. On the other hand, musicians who make these connections may still need to form and maintain friendships outside of tightly knit musical circles.

However, the biggest challenge most college musicians face is trying to keep up with their studies. All too often, a student musician may develop dreams of quitting school and becoming a superstar, leading to lessened attention in classes, slipping grades, or worse, dropping out of college altogether. Musicians faced with this problem need to remember they can still continue to follow their musical dreams while remaining in college, and that completing their studies could prove crucially important in the long run. It can be difficult to strike a balance between believing in your dream and living in the real world, but by finishing their degrees musicians stand better chances of succeeding in the future, whether in music or in another discipline.

So what's a musician to do in college? The short answer: get grit. There's no easy fix, and no way around the fact that being a serious musician and a college student at the same time is just tough. If you're going to make it work, you have to buckle down and focus on what's important to you.

Knowing your priorities is key. On the broader level, if you've decided to keep up commitments to college and music, there's still some wiggle room in how much you put into each. It's a lot easier, for instance, to just keep up with practicing music while you're in college and maybe perform casually. Remember that you've got a finite amount of time and energy to go around, and that college is going to take a fair portion. Balancing what you spread out between your musical, social, and personal lives means thinking hard about how much each means to you.

If performing seriously really is your passion, recognize and accept the impact it'll have on other aspects of your college life. Know that equipment and performance expenses will mean finding part-time work until gig earnings at least let you break even. Know that practices and concerts will mean less time to hang out and party, at least with some friends. Know that playing late-night lounges and clubs may mean heading back to campus to sleep in front of the door of your first class in the morning to make sure you'll be on time.

If you can face all this and still know you're up for it, then you've got the resolution to do what it takes. If you find yourself cringing, that's OK. It just means you still need to spend some time getting your priorities straight.

College is supposed to be a time of learning and growth, and being a musician certainly affords those opportunities through meeting new people, performing in public, and learning about yourself through music and performance. By taking the time to really think about what's important right now, as well as what will be important later on, college musicians should be able to find ways to still pursue their dreams without forfeiting education.

Good giging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Top Ten reasons how Steve Jobs accomplishments have changed Music Education.

I know that many of you mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers.

I would like to take just a moment to reflect on how his contributions to music education have affected Music Education over the last 30 years.

Here's what teaching music was like for me in 1976 (before computers).

1. I would write and arrange music by hand with an ink pen on staff paper.

2. I taught general music with chalk and record player.

3. I would have to wind the metronome before checking tempos

4. I created letters on a manual typewriter and used white-out instead of the delete key.

5. I carried a pocket calendar from the bank and a miniature golf pencil around for scheduling.

6. I carried dimes for making phone calls when I wasn't at home.

7. My class room had one electrical outlet for my entire music program.

8. I recorded my concerts via cassette tape

9. I carried a city map in my car's glove compartment.

10. There was enough money in the school budget so music teachers were continually hired , not let go.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Know when to hold 'em

Anyone old enough to remember the lyrics to the Kenny Roger's song, "The Gambler" will know the phrase, "know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em". This is pretty sage advise when dealing with a student who has lost interest in playing an instrument.

Despite your love of music, it's important to realize that not everyone shares your enthusiasm for performance art. Some people march to a different drummer. (pardon the pun).

Case in point.........

I developed an interest in playing a band instrument in the fourth grade after seeing the local high school band perform at my elementary school. Unfortunately, the only instrument my folks could afford was the clarinet my mother played 15 years earlier in the University of Dayton Marching Band that resided under her bed. The pads were as old and hard as a jalopy tire!

After three weeks of squeaking and squawking, my teacher (the same HS band director) wisely advided me to quit.
Being only eight years old, I emotionally recovered as soon as football season arrived.

The I started junior high........

I must have suffered from ADHD decades before the condition became a popular diagnosis, because my grades were horrible and I found myself in the principal's office for fighting on more than several occasions. Upon one unscheduled visit to the office, the same band director that started me on clarinet wandered into the office.

"fighting again?" he quipped. "Yup" I replied.

Then he uttered a phrase which changed my life.....

"Do you want to hit something that doesn't hit back? "

I left the office under his "custody" and started a very successful journey as the school's bass drummer. I must admit that; during a fews rough days, I broke more than my share of head and mallets. Miraculously though, he didn't seem to mind. My grades improved and the office visits for fighting disappeared.

Eventually, I ended up becoming a band director with a unique perspective on knowing when to hold em and when to fold em.

My advice? Don't force a student to keep playing an instrument if they have totally lost interest. If they are destined to be a musician later on, trust me, they will find you. There is an old Buddhist saying that goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"".

Many parents are trying to live their thwarted dreams of becoming a successful musician vicariously through their children when their kids resonate more with sports, dance, or visual arts.

After a heartfelt discussion with a student, learn when to hold 'em and when to fold em when advising the parents on the future of music lessons.

As for me, if I had been forced to continue making horrendous sounds on my mom's beat-up clarinet, I am certain that a successful career in music education have never been my destiny.

Because of my own past, I tend to guide self -motivated students rather than encourage parents to force music students to "stick" with an instrument in which they have clearly have lost interest.

Just be ready to embrace those same students when they return with renewed interest!

Good gigging!

Larry Marra

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Written by author, composer, and music educator, Dr. Scott Watson

On August 16, 2011, broadcast a live webcast with author, composer, and music educator, Dr. Scott Watson, in which he discussed his new book, Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity (from Oxford University Press). Watson was joined by fellow Alfred composer/band director, Chris Bernotas.

Watson’s book begins, “It has never been easier or more fun for your students to compose, improvise, arrange, and produce music-related projects. Why?” Watson’s book-length answer to this question is described by reviewer Chad Criswell at (August 2011) as, "a wealth of information, lesson plans, and innovative ideas intended to get music teachers thinking of new and creative ways to use the technology they have at their disposal to increase the creative opportunities that they provide to their students…Scott Watson's innovative spirit and forward thinking attitude toward the use of technology in music education is refreshing and inspiring."

Although the book is aimed at all music educators and has lots of great information and ideas for general and elective music, Watson and Bernotas also discuss many topics of special interest to instrumental music teachers, including: great methods and reasons for digital audio recording in music education, free Web-based music apps (such as Noteflight), creativity-based music learning, using wikis, composer/artist video-conferencing, and more.

Dr. Scott Watson

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Technology Can Augment a Music Education, But it Cannot Replace a Good Teacher

Replace a Good Teacher

by featured guest writer: Natalie Hunter

Studying music can become a lifelong passion for many people. It fosters intellectual curiosity, stimulates creativity and teaches discipline. Music is also an excellent means through which to make connections with others. Studying music can be a lifelong endeavor, whether it is study of a particular instrument or composition. In the past, this was often done in small groups or one-on-one with an experienced teacher. However, with the advent of modern technologies, more and more aspiring musicians are using technology to teach themselves by listening to CDs or even going to online school. But can people really learn music well without a good teacher?

As an example, a person who has always longed to study piano might research many different ways in which they can indulge their interest. They might find books that describe piano technique at the library. Online, they can find tutorials and watch other people play on YouTube. There are even In the videos an instructor is depicted demonstrating and explaining certain ideas and techniques. Diagrams and close-ups may be used to further illustrate various concepts and methods. Usually the student is encouraged to play along and practice diligently in between lessons. The student can progress through the lessons at their own pace, coming back for more complex lessons or replaying previous lessons when necessary.

As the new piano student reads their library book and listens to the recordings of an artist it is entirely possible that their understanding and appreciation of the piano as an instrument will grow. They will also begin to recognize the many years of dedication required to become a proficient pianist. Likewise, as they progress through a series of introductory online piano lessons they may find themselves able to pick out simple melodies on the keyboard. Their knowledge and skills are undoubtedly growing. Yet is this enough?

For some people it is. The mildly curious piano student may discover that further study of the instrument simply is not of interest to them or they may be satisfied with the casual dabbling they have already accomplished. Others will find that their appetite has only been whetted by their previous experiences and they are eager for more. They could seek out more books, recordings, and websites, but they may also have begun to recognize the shortcomings inherent in such methods. In short, reading and listening and studying casually online can only take the student so far. To develop artistry and a deep appreciation for music, formal training is necessary.

Formal training does not have to mean that the student will attend a conservatory or study music diligently on a daily basis. It can still be a fun pastime that the student does not intend to pursue professionally. However, hiring a professional music teacher takes the student beyond the rudimentary knowledge they can gain through books and various forms of technology. The one on one interaction between a teacher and pupil provides the necessary depth of knowledge required to become an accomplished musician. With a qualified teacher to guide them the novice student can develop good habits to last a lifetime.

When music students decide to acquire their training solely through the use of technology or other means without the guidance of a teacher, they must assess the value of the technology or other mode of delivery on their own. The website or book may encourage poor technique that will be difficult to unlearn. For many casual students this is not necessarily detrimental and may not harm their enjoyment of music. But others may find that bad habits make it difficult for them to progress in the way they would like. Teachers can guide these students past these roadblocks so they can realize their dreams. Also, most music education technology is not interactive enough to allow students to seek answers to individualized questions, but a music teacher is always able to clarify the finer points.

Technology is not a detriment to music education. In fact, many innovations like the Internet and various types of data storage can help students practice their technique. However, technology used for music education should be utilized judiciously and sources should be examined critically before being accepted. It is only through the guidance of a well qualified music educator that students can truly begin to master technique and artistry, furthering their skills and deepening their appreciation for the art form.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Introducing AMP, The National ASSOCIATION of MUSIC PARENTS

This post submission by: Scott Mccormick

Introducing AMP, The National ASSOCIATION of MUSIC PARENTS who’s mission is to build a grassroots national movement that brings together ALL STAKEHOLDERS of Music Education to defend the interests of our students and ensure that music and the arts remain an integral discipline within the core education system in America.

Led by Scott McCormick, the former President and CEO of both Music for All and Bands of America, AMP will serve as a powerful voice to amplify the difference that music and the other arts provide in the total development of our young people and on society by building the most comprehensive, robust, social networking music parent website on the internet.

Why do we need AMP? “The one thing that I have learned during my career is that none of our programs are safe forever. While we may believe that the budget concerns couldn’t possibly affect us, just when we get comfortable, they do affect us and by then, if we are not prepared, it could be too late,” Scott McCormick. Teachers are over committed and stressed, often times, one of the areas that falls off is good communication with those who can help the most - the parents.

AMP is targeting parents of beginning music students, existing parent organizations, newly formed parent organizations, as well as any concerned citizen who believes the facts about what music does for the young person.

In the growing global marketplace, students will need to excel in both math and science to compete internationally as engineers, scientists, physicians, and creative entrepreneurs. Yet, in an assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 15-year-olds in the U.S. placed 25th out of 30 countries in math performance and 21st in science performance. Why is it that the top three countries (Korea, Finland and China) in each category of math and science performance each have a requirement of Music and other arts in their curriculums in order to graduate from high school and much of America does not?

AMP strives to provide parents with excellent and timely resources to support their child’s musical endeavors. There is a repository of information to immerse themselves in and share with others the valuable impact music is making in their child’s life. As a member, they will be able to view impactful videos, learn useful advocacy techniques, read thought provoking, poignant and hilarious blogs, pore over critical music facts, ask and answer questions, participate in webinars and conferences, view and download all documents in the resource section, and receive discounts on store purchases. They will also be able to network with like minded parents from organizations across the country.

Additionally for the parent who has a new 4th, 5th or 6th grade beginner at home or about to, there is so much information they need to know, which in most cases they are not hearing. This site and organization is for them. Parents need to know the power they hold in the education system of their children. In our public and private schools, it is the taxpayer or tuition payer who ultimately gets to make the decisions about their child’s education system. We elect the school board who hires the superintendents and down the line. When you trace back where the power lies, it lies with us the taxpayer. They need to know what an incredible difference participation in music and the other arts, all the way through their child’s high school years, will provide them in their later years. Just ask one of the Fortune 1000 CEO’s in the corporate world what music did for them. 73%, nearly 3 out of 4 of them were involved in their school music programs.

AMP is also teaming with teachers, music manufacturers and retailers who understand the value and support the cause. We are proud to announce that Music and Arts, the nations largest chain of school music stores, along with Yamaha and Vandoren have joined us as Charter Sponsors. Additionally a number of like minded businesses are in the pipeline to join us soon.

Visit us at to witness this exciting launch and join as a member to support the cause. Spread the word amongst your influence group, like us on facebook, and watch this movement as it catches on across the country!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top 40 Music related Job Sites!

From Heather Clark, featured writer for

Be sure to check out her website at:

If you are a music educator who is seeking a job, you can find music-specific job sites, music careers listed in larger job sites such as Monster, and music jobs listed by state. Music educator jobs often hide under the label of “director” or “administrator,” and voice and instrument teacher jobs abound across the nation. This list of the top 40 job sites for music educators lists all those jobs and other possibilities.

Music Studio

Music-Specific Job Sites

  1. American Music Therapy Association: Use this site to learn more about education and music for students who need this work as therapy. Jobs are reserved for AMTA members.
  2. Careers in Music: This is complete list of music jobs that includes alternate titles, descriptions and salary information. There are also links to get detailed information for each job.
  3. Church Music Jobs: Most of these jobs consist of directorships and worship leaders, both which involve educational practices in voice and in instruments.
  4. Creative Jobs Central: Music jobs at this site often focus on performers; however, some music educator and administration jobs are listed here as well.
  5. Entertainment Careers: While this site does not focus specifically on music education jobs, they are listed here…along with many other jobs in the music industry.
  6. Jobs in Music: Take a swing at searching for any musical job possible across the U.S. with this search engine.
  7. Media Web Source Music Careers List and Music Job Openings: Scroll down this page to find the list of music educator jobs.
  8. MENC Career Center: The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, offers a way for music teachers to find jobs.
  9. Music Jobs: This site carries all types of music jobs, including teachers, instructors and educators.
  10. Music Jobs and Employers/Services Database: Musicians Page offers a database filled with jobs across the country. Some jobs are educational, some are focused on performance-related positions.
  11. Drum Instructor

  12. My Music Job: This site breaks down the music jobs and employment by over 40 different categories that cover the entire music industry.
  13. Rhinegold Publishing: This UK publishing company focuses on music publications, and offers music teaching job searches as a bonus.
  14. TakeLessons Music Teacher Jobs: TakeLessons is accepting applications for teachers to provide music and voice instruction to our TakeLessons students in cities across the U.S.
  15. The College Music Society: This link leads to the career development initiative provided by this organization. CMS members are welcome to use these services.

State-Specific Music Education Job Sites

  1. CTReap Music Teachers: Part of a larger Reap site, this page offers jobs to music educators across the state of Connecticut.
  2. IMEA Job Bank: This page showcases music positions currently open in ths State of Iowa.
  3. Iowa Music Education Job Openings: These openings are compiled from,, and
  4. Music Education Job Opportunities: These music education job opportunities are located in California.
  5. Music Teacher Jobs: This site allows music educators to find jobs by category, by location and by company.
  6. Piano Teacher

  7. Ohio Music Education Association: This search engine leads to music education jobs within Ohio.
  8. Rhode Island Music Teacher Jobs: Flipdog offers jobs by state and by profession. This page focuses on music education throughout Rhode Island.
  9. Texas Music Educators Association: TMEA is an organization of over 10,000 school music educators dedicated to promoting excellence in music education.
  10. USReap Music Teachers: This site provides services to public schools across Missouri.

Larger Job Site Opportunities

  1. Careerbuilder Music Education: View job as varied as music therapy to media marketing under the “music education” search at this site.
  2. Employment Crossing Music Teacher Jobs: This site offers a few jobs for music educators from across the country.
  3. Find Music Educator Jobs: These listings are from across the nation, and are offered by AOL Jobs.
  4. Glassdoor Music Director Jobs: As with any large job site, you can use the search engine to find other music education jobs here.
  5. HigherEd Jobs Music: This site is for music jobs in colleges across the nation. Search by date posted, institution, location, priority, job title and category.
  6. Job-Hunt Music Teacher Jobs: Use the search engine to refine or expand these job listings. The jobs are from across the nation.
  7. Flute Instructor

  8. JobRapido Voice Teacher Jobs: Like other large job sites, you can refine your search for jobs across the nation by job and location.
  9. Jobs for Sports Fans: Don’t let the title throw you off. This page includes jobs for band and vocal music instructors, voice teachers and more.
  10. JuJu Elementary Music Teacher Jobs: Although this search is for elementary music teachers, you can use the search engine to find other positions within the music field.
  11. Monster Music Educator Jobs: Find a variety of music education jobs at this large job site. You can refine your search by job, skills and location.
  12. Music Jobs in Arts, Entertainment & Gaming: This broad title include specific jobs as music directors, producers and editors at the JobSearch site.
  13. Simply Hired Voice Teacher: Although this page points specifically to voice teachers nationwide, you can expand or narrow that search by job and location at this site.
  14. Teacher Job Bank: You can find teaching jobs and other education employment opportunities at this site. This page specifically looks at music teaching jobs.
  15. Teachers.Net: This page provides various searches for teaching positions, including those educated in music instruction.
  16. The Chronicle of Higher Education Jobs: Search for jobs in music education located in colleges and universities throughout the country.
  17. The Education Job Music Teacher Jobs: The Education Job is the international job board listing jobs in the education and training industry, and offers music teacher jobs by state.
  18. Top USA Jobs Music Teacher: The jobs listed here are from across the country. Use the search engine to narrow or broaden your search.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Sticher in Time

I just found an amazing free music educational resource for your mobile device.

Introducing Sticher!

Sticher is a free app available from the iTunes store, and both the blackbery and Android Market app store.

The amazing feature about this app is that it enables you to listen to thousands of podcasts and radio shows on your mobile device or satellite radio without having to download the mp3 file. This saves valuable memory space allowing your mobile device to function more quickly.

Sticher and Pandora radio are my first two apps on my Android Thunderbolt.

I love keeping up with the latest music educational trends while waiting in line at the store, bank, or dreaded post office.

I am also happy to announce that the musicteachers911 podcast is now available on sticher and is the #1 music education show on their search engine!

Long Live Sticher!!!!

Good gigging,

Larry Marra

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Know Your Audience

Before you can have a conversation with someone, it helps to know a little about them first. Being aware of their like s and dislikes will make your visit a much more enjoyable experience for both of you. The same is true of communicating your music to your listening audience.

You wouldn't normally discuss rap music to a nursing home resident any more than you would the Big Band era to teenage rappers. The topic is mostly foreign to them and your reaction from them would generally be less than positive. The same is true of your song choices, dress, pace, and overall demeanor when performing at different venues for various audiences. A little homework prior to your performance to familiarize your self with your crowd will benefit everyone involved and could tip the scales in your favor when deciding if your get a call back for a repeat engagement.

Make sure to "read the crowd"while you are playing to see if they are enjoying themselves. Are they listening or talking, texting or net surfing their phones? When did they respond to you and when were you "tuned out"?

If you are playing challenging music, you might not have the opportunity to gage the crowd. This is when video recording yourself, making sure the audience is in the camera's vision, will really pay off afterwards.

Meaningful conversations involving listening and reading body language as well.

Good Gigging!

Larry Marra

Thursday, May 26, 2011

True colors

When performing in an ensemble. It is very important that everyone not only is balanced with regards to dynamics, but also with the amount of playing blending with the group. Here is how I grew to understand my relative role as a session musician in various ensembles...

Have you ever looked at a collection of fine paintings and really studied how the artist used a single color? Let's study the possible use of yellow for example. The amount of yellow the artist selected is dependent on the subject of the painting. A desert sunset would use much more yellow than an seascape would.

The same is true of how much and how loudly you play in a particular song. When I am playing in a big band setting, I understand that the focus of the composition is the horns. I treat them as if they were the vocalists and play more aggressively using more keys to thicken the texture and carry the harmony during the solo sections, but barely playing at all (softly and use open chords) during the tutti sections. With a ballad using a vocalist, I play much more supportively as the role of the horns are to quietly support our intimate combo feel.

Smearing lots of your tone color on every song with no concern for balancing the other colors of your ensemble makes for a very boring collection of tone paintings.

By concentrating on the overall quality of the tone colors and textures with respect to the changing nuances of the music, you will be on your way to creating your own masterpieces in no time.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Cleaning

With the ending of another school year, May is the perfect time to get your students to help with the annual Spring cleaning of the music rooms. Have a few go through your ensemble library and check for any torn or marked up parts and make sure that they are in their proper alphabetical order. I have a cabinet with a separate drawer for brass, woodwind, strings, and percussion parts and tools that must be reorganized now that the pressure of contests and concerts are over. Excel spreadsheets are made and must be checked-off to insure all the music books and equipment are accounted for. Empty all the shelves and pull everything away from the walls to get those dust-bunnies that grow while we are in those "teaching moments". With the dismal economy still looming over our school budgets, many districts have cut back the custodial staff to the bones, making anything more than emptying waste cans a luxury.

Getting the students involved in making the music rooms bright, shiny, and attractive will give them a sense of pride and ownership for your program. You will feel more like coming to work as well.

good teaching!

Larry Marra

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't forget to shift gears

With this being the beginning of Holy Week, I would like to address this post to all the musicians and music directors who are also employed as worship music directors for a local church.

Most church chancel choirs and praise band members are composed of adult volunteers who generously donate their time and energy to enhance the worship experience.

Make sure that you "switch gears" and not approach your directing as you would a professional band or classroom environment. The habit of demanding perfection from HS or dance bands os a hard one to curb and is much easier said than done.

I am lucky as I have a sound engineer (named John) who helps me "keep it real" during our church rehearsals.

When I get too caught up in the rehearsal moment and focus my concern on the music and not the overall experience for the musicians, I can tend to be a little blunt and impatient. This is especially true during the insane worship schedule during Holy Week. When this starts to happen, John gives me a certain "look" that conveys the subliminal message, "Relax Larry, these are just volunteers that don't have to be here, or take this". I am very grateful of this and usually stop the rehearsal and lighten up with a little mood altering pleasant banter with the members.

I wish you and your church ensembles many blessed worship experiences this week but caution you to remember that the musicians, as well as the music performances, are the reason that you are there.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Saturday, April 9, 2011

As the State, so goes the Nation

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has directed counties to prepare a Rapid Response Plan to help displaced teachers cope with job loss and find new employment. Hardest hit will be the fine arts.

The Ohio Education Association — representing 130,000 unionized school employees — predicts a dire scenario.

An analysis by the OEA estimates 10,860 Ohio education jobs could be eliminated in fiscal year 2012, based on Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget, the loss of stimulus funding and phase-out of state tax reimbursements.

Friday, April 8, 2011

write makes right!

Have you ever called up a tune during a rehearsal or performance and counted off the wrong tempo? Have you ever forgotten a certain keyboard or guitar effect setting? Well, I have many times until I accepted that; even the weakest pencil trumps the strongest memory. I now keep a journal of tempos, styles and tone/effect setting for every song in each of my ensembles repertoire. I also download the virtual document onto my smart phone so that I can glance at my notes prior to counting off the next song. If the tempo is one that I don't use regularly, I have an app on my smartphone that is a metronome.

It's better to take a second and check your notes and tempos than take a few minutes to perform an entire song incorrectly.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let them eat cake? NOT!!!

Last Sunday, while preparing the Church sanctuary for our Lenten contemporary Christian Praise and Worship Service, our praise team was invited to partake in an impromptu 40th wedding anniversary celebration beforehand. The parlor was filled with the aroma of a delicious sheet cake.

Our drummer, a young 20-something, decided to enjoy the few pieces of said cake containing hundreds of extra calories of processed white sugar with his extra-large black coffee minutes before the service.

What resulted was as surprising to him as it was to us......

He was so hyped up on sugar and caffeine, that every tempo was blazing fast. The first song even included a surprise drum solo that I don't think our drummer had any control over. After the first chorus, a flurry of sound erupted from his drum set so overpowering, that everybody else just stopped and watched him solo for around two and a half minutes.


Be careful what you eat and drink prior to any musical performances. Moderation is the key.

good gigging!

Larry Marra

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Kenji Crosland