Hello all,

Very exciting news from me and FJH. This week I'm going into the recording studio to begin recording a new band method that will be released by FJH with preview copies available at Midwest. The method, "Measures of Success," is written by an amazing team including Deb Sheldon (Temple University), Robert Sheldon, Timothy Loest, David Collier (Percussion, Univ. of Illinois), and myself. While we're not seeking to reinvent the wheel as many other methods have sound approaches, there are a number of things that we think we were able to improve on, including assessment opportunities, playing by ear, focus on musicality, reinforcement of new concepts, and absolutely incredible play-along CD tracks ranging from samba, mariachi, rock, and funk to African percussion instruments and voices, full orchestra, electronic, and more. Stay tuned, but this is certainly a highlight for me and an incredibly fun project. For those of you wondering what it may sound like, you can go to the FJH website and listen to "Sensational Solos Popular Christmas," a book of Christmas solos for middle school kids with accompaniments. The accompaniments were a TON of fun to write and these will sound similar. More as things develop!

Brian

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Comment by Brian Balmages on August 28, 2012 at 11:15am

Thanks Russ! We have been getting a lot of great feedback, and it is fantastic to know they are working well for you!

Comment by Russ Weaver on August 23, 2012 at 2:03am

Brian,

1st week with the new books at my school and am loving them!  Vol. 2 for the 7-8 grade group for review and assessment and Vol.1 for the developing band.  Students seem to enjoy the textbooks as much or more than any other textbooks I have used over the years.  Love the Percussion Ensemble feature, if you planning to be in the Central Florida area next month, our percussion ensemble will be performing one of them in recital (Every Wednesday).

Thanks again for taking music education to the next level for everyone. 

Time to translate them to German and let me take them overseas next year.  I'll bet they would love them.

The sound recordings are amazing as well, kudos!

Comment by Brian Balmages on April 13, 2010 at 3:32pm
I wanted to add a bit more information about the method. Many people have been asking about the HORN and PERCUSSION books. I'm happy to provide more specific information on both below...

HORN:

The horn has two approaches. The first is the unison approach where the horn has octaves and can choose the octave that best suits their ability. The other approach puts the horn in a more comfortable range (looking like the trumpet book). We keep both options for the first two Opuses before bridging them back so they are in unison with the rest of the band from Opus 3 forward. That being said, there is one thing that we do that I do not believe other methods do. Typically, if a horn player is more able to play the lower octave on the F side, there are no introductions to the upper octaves when they get there. In other words, when the horn learns low F and G on the first few pages, they continue on for a while. Eventually, they will play exercises where they need to know the F on first space. Most other methods do not flag that for the lower players - they simply expect that horn players have learned both octaves. However, we do not do that. Our method integrates all three approaches (F upper octave, F lower octave, Bb) so that by the end of Opus 2, all students have learned the exact same notes before proceeding. When lower octave players see a new note in the upper octave, we introduce it. And the same when the upper octave players learn a new note in the lower octave (such as D). In addition, we incorporate some exercises later in the book that work on C-E-G. Horn players focus on these intervals so that they become very familiar with the sound of these notes. And from here, they can find virtually any note within their range. (As you can tell, we worked very closely with a professional horn player who is also an elementary / middle school band teacher.)

PERCUSSION:

Our percussion book is a total approach book, including both battery percussion and keyboard percussion. Some unique features of this book:

The entire book was written by a percussionist to function like a percussion method. Many teachers complain that percussion books in band methods simply appear to be written after the fact and are forced to follow the winds. In our book, students get a lot of percussion-only exercises to reinforce concepts and give them extra material. These include solos that occur throughout the book as early as Opus 1! In total, there are 4 snare drum solos ("Stick Shift," "Flam Chowder," "It's Rudimental, Watson!," and "Let's Roll"), two accessory percussion ensembles (forcing them to get away from snare drum and/or bells), 2 larger percussion ensembles, a timpani solo ("Timpanzee"), and 2 solos for keyboard percussion and piano. Many more opportunities than other methods and it's ideal for percussion-only classes as well with so much material. Further, we actually include pictures throughout the method showing students how to hold and play these instruments. The team understands that different students have different learning styles. While some students can understand how to play an instrument simply by reading something, other students need to see it. And even others will need to listen to the percussion-specific CDs to hear exactly how it sounds when played correctly.

Hope this helps answer some additional questions!
Comment by Bryan Itzkowitz on March 28, 2010 at 1:05pm
Brian,

I'm very intrigued by the new method. I have requested from my music representative that they bring out a conductor's score so I can take a look at the rest of the instruments. From first glance, I have to agree with Russ. The color is nice on the eyes and the little historical facts are great. I really enjoy how it seems to be tied to the national standards. I think my favorite part of the book is the ongoing theory component. At the end of each "Opus," there is a review of the theory introduced.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the parts!

Thanks, Brian!

Bryan
Comment by Brian Balmages on January 12, 2010 at 7:18pm
Russ,

SmartMusic will definitely work with the method. I met with them in Chicago and they will have our entire method on SmartMusic by the time we release everything. So that's an absolute guarantee. We even have the logo on the front cover! Hope that answers your question.

Brian
Comment by Russ Weaver on January 12, 2010 at 6:38pm
Brian,
Got my copy today and it looks great. Love the way it begins with non-traditional notation and gets them playing. The history factoids are great and the blue color scheme is very grabbing and easy to read. Please let me know if the smartmusic tie-ins come together, this is a deal breaker for my school as we use smartmusic with the entire school.

thanks,

Russ
Comment by Greg A. Williams on October 17, 2009 at 7:43am
Thanks for the preview. Good luck and looking forward to reviewing it soon.
Comment by Russ Weaver on October 5, 2009 at 6:55pm
Can't wait to check out the "Measures of Success" at Midwest this year.

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