Joy in Composing for School Music Programs

Hopewell Valley Central HS Jazz Band

Composing for school music programs is such an amazing experience. I try to make it as interactive as possible, and the results have been rewarding. In 2013, I’m lucky to have received commissions from three high schools: Hopewell Valley Central High School (Pennington, NJ), Central Bucks High School West (Doylestown, PA), and Kittatinny Regional High School (Newton, NJ).

Hopewell Valley Central HS Jazz BandHopewell Valley commissioned me early in the year to write a jazz band chart for their 2013 spring concert and jazz festivals. The piece is called “Strolling,” and it’s a mostly 3/4 swing tune that creates the feeling of walking outside on a nice day. We did a Skype rehearsal with David Schwartzer’s band, and everyone was open to the whole process of creating a non-traditional jazz band chart.

Same!For Central Bucks West, I’m writing a wind ensemble piece.  Before writing a single-note, I like to ask the director about his ensemble, the type of music he programs, and ideas for the commission. The only note Neil Delson, band director at CB West, had for me was that he likes melody. To quote Gob in season four of Arrested Development, “Same!”

Kittatinny’s jazz band call themselves the “K-Train.” When I found out their name in an email conversation with jazz band director Jarred Matthes, I signed off my email saying “All Aboard!”

As soon as I hit “send,” I knew I had the title for my piece.

Though I moved to Los Angeles to be a film composer, I love being a part of a community that got me into music in the first place. I had a lot of fun working with Hopewell Valley, and can’t wait to get it going with Central Bucks West and Kittatinny Regional.

If you’re a band director and haven’t commissioned a new work before, shoot me an email and we’ll talk about the process.  I’ll do my best to explain what an amazing experience it can be for your school music program.

All Aboard!

-Jon

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