You may not know that I am the current President and CEO of a non profit organization called Advocates for Music & Music Education Association (AMMEA). AMMEA cultivates, supports, and enhances music and music education in the state of South Carolina through fostering academic partnerships and professional learning opportunities for music educators.
AMMEA recently hosted an interview featuring Scott Rush. Mr. Rush is active as a conductor, clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and Canada. He is also a very accomplished author and has authored or co-authored ten highly touted books: Habits of A Successful Band Director, Habits of A Successful Musician, Habits of a Successful Middle School Musician, The Evolution of A Successful Band Director, Habits of A Successful Middle School Band Director, Habits of A Successful String Musician, Habits of a Successful Middle Level String Musician, Quality of Life Habits of A Successful Band Director, Habits of a Successful Choir Director, and Habits of a Significant Band Director.
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During the interview Mr Rush discussed a list of selections he described as “warhorses”: selections that have stood the test of time and are considered the standard of excellence for high performing ensembles. Mr Rush explained that this list is purposely not complete and should not be used as the absolute authority on what bands should be playing but, more accurately, the bare minimum of what bands should be playing. He believes all students should be exposed to selections of this caliber at some point in their musical journey.
For high school band programs Mr. Rush recommends a “Four-Year Cycle” of specific titles differentiated for 3 levels: Symphonic Band (advanced musicians), Concert Band I (intermediate musicians), and Concert Band II (young musicians). The recommendation is to play at least one of the listed pieces each year while adding in new pieces as you’d like. The idea is to develop a standard list of “workhorses” that become the foundation for your program. Faithfully following this process will expose your students to a wide variety of great literature while also challenging them, at every level, to reach a standard of high quality.
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Scott Rush is the former Director of Fine and Performing Arts in Dorchester School District Two in South Carolina and is the former Director of Bands at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and the University of South Carolina. Under his direction, the Wando Symphonic Band performed at the 2007 Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic and were recipients of the 2007 Sudler Flag of Honor administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation. His marching bands were two-time BOA Grand National finalist and won the South Carolina State 5A marching band championships nine consecutive years.