Albany Music Fund E-Newsletter- May 2010


Calendar of Events: May – June 2010

Saturday, May 1: Albany Middle School Symphonic Band, Albany Middle School Choir, Albany High School Concert Choir and Chorale to CMEA Festivals
Sunday, May 2: Albany Spring Arts Festival, Albany Memorial Park, 10:30-1:30, Marin School Choir, Albany Middle School Chamber Choir. FREE!
Saturday, May 8 – Monday, May 10: AHS Jazz Band to Lincoln Center, New York! See below for details
Wednesday, May 19: 3rd Annual Elementary Band Extravaganza, Albany High School, gym, 7 p.m., all 4th, 5th and 6th grade bands in the Albany Unified School District. FREE!
Thursday, May 20: Cornell Elementary School Choir, Cornell Multipurpose room, 7 p.m. FREE!
Thursday, May 20: Albany High School Spring Concert, Albany High School Little Theater, Concert Choir, Chorale, Men with Soul, Vocal Flight, 7 p.m. FREE!
Friday, May 21: On a Rainbow and The Suspenders: Barbershop vocal music from Ms. Low and friends, AMF benefit, Albany High School Little Theater, 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 23: Ice Cream Social, Albany Community Center, 2 p.m. Albany Middle School Jazz Band, Albany Middle School Chamber Choir, Albany High School Vocal Flight, Men with Soul. FREE!
Monday, May 24: Ocean View Elementary School Choir Concert, Ocean View multipurpose room, 7 p.m. FREE!
Monday, May 24: Albany High School Jazz Concert, Albany High School Little Theater, 7 p.m., Jazz Band, Jazz Lab, Rhythm Bound. FREE!
Tuesday, May 25: Marin Elementary School Choir Concert, Marin multipurpose room, 7 p.m. FREE!
Tuesday, May 25: Albany High School Band and Orchestra, Albany High Little Theater, 7 p.m. Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble. FREE!
Sunday, May 30: : Albany High School Jazz Band and Rhythm Bound at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. (near Gilman), Berkeley. 7 p.m. $15 Staff and Students, $10, ages 5 and under.
Tuesday, June 1: Albany Middle School Spring Band Concert at Albany Middle School, gym 7 p.m. Cobra Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band. FREE!
Wednesday, June 2: : Albany Middle School Spring Choir Concert, Albany High School Little Theater, 7 p.m. FREE!
Thursday, June 3: Albany Middle School Spring Jazz and Orchestra Concert at Albany Middle School, courtyard, 7 p.m., Jazz Workshop, Jazz Band, String Orchestra. FREE!
Thursday. June 10: Albany Middle School Graduation, Albany High School, gym, 5 p.m., Albany Middle School “grad Band” and Jazz Band. FREE!

Outreach report: AHS Choirs on the Road

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, April 15, the Choir room at Albany High was a sea of 41 sleepy but excited teen singers and five chaperones. The event? The Albany High Choirs were traveling to Las Vegas for the Heritage Music Festival.

Nine hours of uneventful bus riding later, we pulled into the parking lot of Circus Circus to begin 3 days of performing for judges and other high school students- and a little exploration of Vegas, too.

The Heritage Music Festival offers students a chance to perform for adjudicators and receive valuable feedback in extended clinics. Dr. Mark Wherry at the College of Southern Nevada gave the choirs terrific pointers in a workshop before their performance on Saturday, and those performances were appreciably better as a result. We can and should be very proud of our singers- they brought home plaques and trophies at the Gold level in all categories. But what really made one chaperone happy was when a singer asked her “How did it sound? Were we able to do what Dr. Wherry suggested?” In fact, they had- but hearing that the adjudicator’s remarks were clearly of interest and importance to the students was heartening indeed. One adjudicator praised the performance of a difficult Lauridsen piece, calling it the “best sotto voce a cappella singing I’ve heard in years”.

A visit to Del Sol High School, where the two schools’ choirs sang for each other, was an unexpected highlight. Two Del Sol students met our bus, eager to escort us to the choir room. There, they performed several pieces, including a delightful female barbershop piece with charming choreography. In return, our singers performed for them, and were warmly received. The students at Del Sol HS made a hand-lettered card to welcome us, which they had all signed, and ended the concert with a root beer float party. It was marvelous to see the two groups mix and mingle, bonding over music and sweet treats.

The trip was a social as well as a musical success- our choristers really bonded with each other. New friendships were formed, old friendship further strengthened, and it was clear all students were proud and happy to be part of the experience.

Mary Low, vocal music instructor at Albany High, is to be commended for her excellent organization that resulted in such a smoothly run trip- but especially for the superb music instruction that brought home awards for our school.

May 2010 AMF Interview: Ben Boskin, 8th grader and AMS musician

Q: Tell us a little about your musical background. What inspired you to pick up your first musical instrument? What instruments have you played, and what’s your primary instrument now? What groups do you currently play with?

A: I am a trombone player as far as school band goes, but I also play drums (I play rock), and guitar (also rock). I started with the drums, before school band began (around 3rd grade). This was out of loving rock music, mostly, and also interest in music in general. I first picked up a trombone in 4th grade, when school band first enrolled, and it was mostly because an older friend of mine, Hannon Ayer, played trombone. I thought that we could play together and sit next to each other in band, and that it would be more fun than clarinet, or sax, or any other instrument. I’d probably say that my primary instrument is the trombone, because I practice that one the most, and I am in both the Jazz Band on it, and in the Symphonic band at the Middle School.

Q: If you were recruiting a new musician for AMS Band, what would you tell them about the music program?

A: I would say that they should really go out and have fun. It might sound like a cliché, but it’s true. If they got into band as a 6th grader, and continued as an eighth grader, maybe did Jazz one or both years, they would be ready to go into High School Music and be successful. It’s not very high pressure at the Middle School, which I think is good, but they will definitely improve a lot in the 3 years that they spend with Mrs. Ravina.

Q: Do you attend AHS concerts? Would you recommend them to younger students? Why or why not?

A: I don’t attend them, but I wish that I did. I always like the AHS bands when I hear them, at multi-school conventions, or other events, and it really inspires me to do better now, so that I can be like them in the future years. I would say for 6th and 7th graders not to go, simply because I couldn’t appreciate them (AHS) when I was that age, but if they are interested, then that they should go ahead. They should not be forced, but definitely have the opportunity to see the High school bands. As for eighth graders, they should definitely go if they are going to do band as freshmen, although I feel like a hypocrite saying it. The high schoolers really know their stuff, and you can see what you should be able to do depending where you want to go.

Q: What’s the best way to get a student to practice their instrument?

A: Find them music they want to play, be it famous, modern, or something that they like. Maybe help them see how much it will help them succeed. But, I think that everyone is different, and that it is best just to let them figure out what they want to do on their own. Don’t push it too hard, and if the interest is lost, just let them find something else.

Q: What’s your current favorite piece(s) of music (in any genre- feel free to name more than one)?

A: Well to play, I like fast, swing jazz songs on trombone, hard, (distorted=better) blues songs on guitar to jam on, and hard, Alt. Punk on drums. For those, it doesn’t matter the song as much as the style. For listening, I like older stuff. Led Zeppelin, Yes, Boston, and Black Sabbath are some of my favorites and the ones that I listen to the most, but I also have really gotten into Jazz, especially from the Jazz Band at AMS. I really like Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman; Got a Match? by Chick Corea, Ornithology by Charlie Parker, and Bill Evans’ Alice in Wonderland.

Pocket change makes a difference: Music Education Month Report

In our last newsletter, we highlighted the elementary schools’ efforts to tap pocket change for music education during March 2010. We distributed clear bottles in the offices at Cornell, Marin and Ocean View Elementary schools, and sat back and waited.

In April, we sat down with those bottles and started counting change. There was a lot to count- $145.80, to be exact. There were a few bills, but it was mostly change (and lots of it pennies). Not too shabby! And for many families, even contributing pocket change can be a challenge.

What can $145.80 do? It can:

  • buy a year’s supply of reeds for 5 wind instruments
  • buy 50 bottles of valve oil
  • buy one piece of band or orchestra music (there are many parts in that one piece!)
  • offset the cost of AMF t-shirts for our students to wear at concerts
  • help sponsor transportation to music festivals

Even pocket change can help our students learn and succeed musically. AMF welcomes your contributions, be they pocket change during Music Education Month, monthly credit card contributions, your donations at school concerts, or the precious gift of your time as an AMF volunteer. To volunteer, visit our website,, and click on the Join button (there’s a box to check to volunteer.)

AHS Jazz Band plays at Lincoln Center!

Albany High School’s Jazz Band is one of 15 finalists competing and participating in the prestigious 15th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival.

The bands will compete and participate in workshops, jam sessions and more, during a three- day Competition & Festival in New York City, May 8 – 10, 2010. The three top-placing bands perform with Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis, as guest soloist, followed by a performance by the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra whose members serve as mentors for the finalist bands throughout the weekend. The Festival’s finale is an awards ceremony honoring outstanding soloists, sections and the top three bands. The Competition & Festival is the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program.

Over 1500 schools requested the competition music, but the difficulty of the selections winnowed the competition to 96 schools submitting audition CDs. Albany High’s jazz musicians have tried for the last three years to get in; this is the first year they’ve been accepted. In 2008, the band was very close, and instrumental music instructor Craig Bryant received a full scholarship to attend Band Director Academy over the summer.

19 sophomores, juniors and seniors of the Jazz Band will travel to New York for this exciting honor. Many of these musicians started in the high school’s Jazz Lab, moving up to the more advanced Jazz Band through focused work.

Mr. Bryant related this story:

“We recorded everything on our own in the Albany High Little Theater shortly before and right after Winter Break. David Teel (Senior, lead trumpet) mastered our tracks. During one session, a tune we had been struggling with sounded great during a take. We got to the end and then David cracked the last note big time. We thought momentarily about splicing that note in. However, no one in the band could live with that as it’s against the rules, so we did an emergency recording session the next day, added a piano solo and ended up with an even better product. Principal Ted Barone told me that it was teaching karma!”


Our musicians are piling up the awards and honors! Craig Bryant reports:

On Saturday April 24th, AHS Jazz Lab and Jazz Band members performed at the Reno Jazz Festival. The Jazz Band won 2nd place in their division, and the Combo made up of Tad Nicol, Calvin Barthel, Megan Healy, Jamie Lincoff and Corey Evans won 4th place.
Outstanding musician awards were given to:
Corey Evans, Tad Nicol, Jamie Lincoff, David Teel, Jennifer Sakauye, Rachel Wong-Westbrooke, Cory Graves Montalbano, Ziyad Abdelfattah, and the entire Jazz Band Rhythm Section.

At the recent CMEA Festival, the following awards were given to our students:
AMS Symphonic Band: Unanimous Superiors (top rating possible= a “superior” rating from all four judges)
AMS Chamber Choir: Superior Rating
AHS Concert Choir: Superior Rating
AHS Chorale: Superior Rating
AHS Symphonic Band: Superior Rating
AHS Wind Ensemble: Superior Rating
AHS Orchestra: Unanimous Superiors

Our young musicians are wonderful- but they didn’t get there by themselves. Credit and kudos to music instructors Craig Bryant, Mary Low and Kara Ravina for their inspired and inspiring instruction- and to all you music parents and families for your support.

One thought on “Albany Music Fund E-Newsletter- May 2010”

  • Hi, Linda:

    Did you try using the Contact page on the site? Comments are intended as a way of referring to one of our posts or news items and not always reviewed as closely as a direct communication.

    I will check with others to see if they got your communication.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *