Posts Tagged ‘school music’

PA Parents Pay Tribute to CSU’s Schwob School of Music

May 15, 2014

The following came as a comment to my blog post on the recent “Atlanta Day” concert from the parents of a Columbus State University student who played a French Horn in the concert. I decided it needs to run as a main post. It’s a fine tribute to the Schwob School of Music. Also, I appreciate the nice things said about this blog. Comments like this make blogging worthwhile.     

Mr. McMichael,

This is a note from the ‘interesting ‘folks’ you met from Scranton, PA at the CSU Philharminic/Atlanta Youth Orchestra concert……we are absolutely THRILLED to be an anecdote for your writings. I was not kidding you when I told you how much of an impact your articles about Schwob had on our decision to send our son Justin so far away to school. I hope that there are other parents of young, hard-working, talented musicians who read this entry and post and find assurance that Schwob is simply the best of all worlds, artistically speaking. My son is growing tremendously as a musician and artist, as well as getting the very best preparation for his future hopes of being a Music Educator and working with young aspiring minds.

I just can’t say enough about the wonderful faculty at Schwob. Our family will always be indebted to them for all they do for our college age children.

If I may, I’d also like to personally thank the benefactors of the Schwob community. I hope they know what a truly spectacular world they have created here. It is nothing short of miraculous.

So, Mr. McMichael….. you now have great friends as well as avid readers up North! We love you and your column….are grateful to you for your past writings, and look forward to all those in the future. Thank You for all you do you do to spread optimism, positive spirit, and musical sunshine. The world needs MORE of that!

Keep ON!! (See you next Spring!)

All the Best!!
Justin and Sharon Ambrozia
Scranton, PA

Saving the Symphony

January 19, 2014

Before Saturday night’s wonderful performance of Wagner and Straus by the Columbus Symphony orchestra, I was speaking with Columbus cultural icon Clason Kyle. I told him how pleased I was to see the school busses arriving with a lot of middle and high school kids to attend the concert. When I told him that my first exposure to a live symphony orchestra was when the Pittsburg Symphony played the 9th Street USO in about 1947, he remembered that he was there that night also. One of the Three Arts League members bought tickets for students of the Columbus and Jordan High bands. We sat on the first two rows. I was blown away by the sound of that live orchestra. I have loved symphonic music ever since. Clason, a Columbus High student, wasn’t a member of the band. I guess he was there simply because he wanted to be.

“Remember when the train came by?” he asked me.

The 9th Street USO, torn down long ago, sat very close to the tracks than run down 9th Street.

After he mentioned it, I did remember.

“The conductor of the orchestra was quite amused by that.”

I even remembered the encore that the orchestra played, the rousing march “El Capitan.” No doubt the conductor knew the high school bands were there and agreed to play something especially for us. I heard that the Columbus High kids had requested that number because their director was called “Captain Lee.” Who knows, maybe that was true.

I had to reflect on all of that when I saw all those school kids lining up go into the Bill Heard Theater. I also reflected on how important is it for the symphony to invite school children so they can be exposed to the great sound of a full symphony orchestra. There is just nothing like hearing live symphonic music. Symphony audiences all over the country are getting smaller. Attracting young audiences is the only hope of reversing that trend.

And it was good thing the symphony played Wagner and Straus because those composers really knew how to get the most out of an orchestra. They also knew how to write not only beautiful, but also exciting music.

No doubt, thanks to the sponsors who paid for the kid’s tickets, more students will be invited to attend future concerts. To love that music, a person has to be exposed to it. It wouldn’t hurt for the orchestra to follow the example of the Pittsburg Symphony and play an encore targeted for them, something like “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” or the theme from “Star Wars.”

Another View: STEM is a Problem, Not a Solution

March 25, 2013
  • My blog posts are also posted on Facebook. People seem to be more inclined to comment on Facebook for some reason. Here is one response to my last blog post on the education crisis. For those who only read the blog at this site, I’m posting an interesting reaction to it.
  • I hate to say this (and I’m sure that I’ll be bombarded with negative responses), but one of the problems with education IS STEM. In so many places, the fine arts and performing arts have been abandoned in favor of adding additional requirements for students in other disciplines. We’re going to end up with a generation of young people that can execute based upon formulas, yet don’t have the ability to figure out how and why they’re doing something.

A National Headquarters in Columbus You Probably Didn’t Know About

April 10, 2009

Columbus, Georgia is national headquarters for AFLAC, TSYS,  Synovus, Carmike Cinemas, and was national headquarters  Royal Crown Cola and, of course, the home of Fort Benning,  but did you know it is national headquarters for the  High School Band Directors National Association,  and its National High School Band Director’s Hall of Fame?

Bob Barr Community Band,  Springer Opera House

Bob Barr Community Band, National Band Director's Hall of Fame and 20th ANniversary Concert, Springer Opera House

I learned this when I accepted George Corridino’s invitation to emcee the Bob Barr Community Band concert at the Springer Opera House honoring the Band Director’s Hall of Fame inductees.  When I pressed George for more information about the Hall of Fame, he said, “You need to go see it, Dick.”

“You mean that it’s here in Columbus?”

“Yes,  it’s on Front Avenue.”

It is indeed on Front Avenue in the Arsenal 1 building, now occupied by the Columbus State University Fine Arts Department,  but I learned the hard way that you can’t get in using the Front Avenue entrance.  It’s locked.  You have to go to the Bay Street entrance.  I did, and I finally got in, where I saw portraits and bios lining the walls,  and there were some artifacts,  like a band hat with a big plume on it.

Band hat, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame, Columbus, Georgia

Band hat, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame, Columbus, Georgia

The inductees are high school band directors from all over the country, including the great John Phillip Sousa,  who was a high school band director in New York State before he formed his internationally famous band,  thrilling American audiences with his “Stars and Stripes Forever,”  which he used a finale to his hugely popular concerts.  My grandfather took my mother, who was a little girl at the time,  to see and hear Sousa when he played at the Springer Opera House in the 1920’s.
John Phillip Sousa, Inductee, National High School Band DIrector's Hall of Fame

John Phillip Sousa, Inductee, National High School Band DIrector's Hall of Fame


Among the portraits you can see at the Hall of Fame,  is the one of Bob Barr,  the legendary Jordan High Red Jacket Band director whose bands won national competitions,  and for whom the Bob Barr Community Band is named.  Mr. Barr  –  his former students all still call him Mr. Barr –  insipred a lot of young people to go on to do well in life.

Bob Barr, George Corridino, Inductees, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame

Bob Barr, George Corradino, Inductees, National High School Band Director's Hall of Fame

Another Columbus music educator icon,  has his portrait right next to Barr’s.  George Corradino,  who left his job as assistant director of the Auburn University Band to come to Columbus as band director at Columbus High,  did so at Barr’s suggestion and they became very good friends.  Dr. Corradino ended up as director of the Muscogee County School District’s music program before he retired and started teaching at Troy State.   He has been director of the Bob Barr Community Band for most of its 20-year existence.

Bill Pharris,  who was a Bob Barr Student,  and who went on to director a number of high school bands, including a very successful tenure at Hardaway High in Columbus,  is also an inductee.  George tells me that Pharris is Bob Barr’s most outstanding protege. 

Dr. Oliver Boone, also a former high school band director,  is the executive director for the High School Band Director’s Association.  Other than providing the Hall of Fame for band directors,  it offers a number of services to band directors all over the country, and it is organizing a unique online high school band exhibition.  You can read about it by going to this link.

Oliver Boone,  Executive Director of the High School Band Director's National Association (Photo courtesy of the NHSBNA)

Oliver Boone, Executive Director of the High School Band Director's National Association (Photo courtesy of the NHSBNA)

It is, in my view,  that this national organization is in Columbus because this city has been the home to some truly fine high school band directors.  We have mentioned some, but there are others. One of them was David Gregory,  who directed the Hardaway High School Band when my son Rick was in it.  That was the band that took first place in the Allentown, Pennsylvania Bi-centennial Band Festival in 1976.  I hope to see Gregory’s picture hanging in that hall of fame soon.

So now you know,  Columbus is the national headquarters for the High School Band Director’s National Association and Hall of Fame.  

Coming up,  another reason the Bob Barr Community Band Hall of Fame Inductee and 20th Anniversary Concert was so special.


April 9, 2009


  Thanks to newsy blogs folks can get information about some interesting events, people and places they don’t get in the mainstream media.   I came across something interesting to anyone who has ever been influenced by a band director.  It’s something that is right here in Columbus and I didn’t even know it was here.

Now,  to learn more about it,  simply go to my podcast link.  (I have to do a podcast occasionally just so I don’t forget how to get it online.)


Dick McMichael, Dick's World Broadcasting Network

Dick McMichael, Dick's World Broadcasting Network

Bob Barr Community Band’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert, Monday, Dec. 8, 7:30 P.M. at Jordan High

December 2, 2008

  High School memories flowed into my consciousness last night as I listened to the Bob Barr Community Band rehearse for its twentieth anniversary concert. I was there because my old friend Dr. George Corradino asked me to emcee the concert since I emceed the very first one twenty years ago.

  The Bob Barr Community Band was formed in 1988 and named in honor of highly successful Jordan Vocational High School band director Bob Barr because of his legendary contributions to his students at Jordan between 1946 and 1962. His Jordan bands won national band contests in cities such as New York and Chicago. He was also conductor of the Columbus Symphony from 1951 to 1962.

  Hearing a band from the inside is different from out in the auditorium, especially when you are playing an instrument. It goes beyond verbal description, just as music does that. It’s emotional, just as music is emotional.  I took this picture because this is where I played a snare drum, and sometimes a set of drums, with the original Bob Barr Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band sixty years ago. Well, actually we rehearsed on the stage of the school’s one-thousand-seat auditorium because this band room hadn’t been built yet. 

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

  It is an extraordinary experience because you are a part of the whole that produces what can be – if you do it well – extremely moving results as the band, or orchestra, releases the emotion of great composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Sousa, Gershwin and others.  I took this picture from the percussion section because that was where I experienced the unforgettable conducting of the demanding, but highly inspiring Bob Barr.

  Remembering this, I can understand why these former high school band students come together to play for community events. They simply enjoy doing what they enjoyed doing most in high school. And this band plays for a lot of community events. 

  Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert will be at the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium starting at 7:30. Admission is $5. All proceeds go to the current Jordan High band.  Not only will you hear popular Christmas songs like “Sleigh Ride,” “Ring of Joy,” and “Christmas Classics,” but an original composition by the late Bob Barr, as well as such favorite marches as “Them Basses” and “The Footlifter.”

  Again, it’s Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:30 at Jordan High auditorium, admission $5, with procedes going to the current Jordan band. Hope to see you there.

“Mr. Music,” George Corradino, Says MCSD Music Program Needs a Supervisor

November 24, 2008


Ben Mallard)

Dr. George Corradino playing with Columbus Community Orchestra (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)

 Dr. George Corradino, as only he could, used the occasion of being featured soloist of the Columbus Community Orchestra, to issue a call to action in support of school music in the Muscogee County School District. He had just finished playing “Georgia On My Mind,” with the orchestra, and he added an unaccompanied solo of Italian music his mother loved, both crowd pleasers that got him a big hand, when he launched into an appeal for everyone there to lobby the school board to hire a supervisor of music. That’s the job from which he retired. The system hasn’t had one for years, now, and he thinks it shows.

  “We are about to get a new superintendent of schools so now is a good time to push for an emphasis on school music and hiring a supervisor of music, ” he told the crowd.

  Afterwards, as we were walking out to ours cars, I said, “George, I guess the reason we don’t have a supervisor of music is because of the money.”

  “It’s not the money, Dick. They would save money by having a supervisor.”

  “Then what is it?”

   “I don’t know, but it’s not the money.  By having a central office for the school music program they could save money in ordering supplies, for one thing. And how about hiring music teachers? Principals are hiring them now for each school.  Music is not their speciality. They don’t have the qualifications for hiring band directors and other music teachers.”

  Over all, he thinks the music program in the schools has gone down. It appears to me that he is right. For instance, over all, the high school bands are nowhere nearly as impressive as they were for many years, years when the superintendent and school board ardently supported the program.  That support started when Dr. William Henry Shaw became superintendent after World War II and it increased over the years. But, where is it now?  

  The strange thing is that Columbus is a music city. The Schowb School of Music at Columbus State University is one of the best in the country. The school’s Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble are both outstanding.  The Columbus Symphony is a fine orchestra. And we have community groups such as the Bob Barr Community Band, the Cavaliers big band, and the Columbus Community Orchestra, providing not only music for all of us to enjoy, but giving an outlet to adult amateur musicians. But, what has happened to the Muscogee County School District’s music program?  

  George was getting really hot about it because he, like me, knows how far reaching a good music program can be. He knows that music students usually make good overall students and learn self-discipline which helps them all through life.  Have you ever noticed how many physcians are musicians? The first violinist of the Community Band is Dr. Ken Goldman, a Columbus surgeon. Dr. Mary Schley, a retired pediatrician, plays viola. My late cousin, Dr. Billy Dodd of Macon,  loved to play the piano, and had his own dance and jazz bands.

Joey Cumming)

Dr. Ken Goldman, surgeon, first violinist of the Columbus Community Orchestra (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)

  Yes, music is very important in life.  Let’s hope the new superintendent and the school board realize that and act accordingly.  If they don’t, beleive me, George will be after them because he has the energy to do it. Though my age, 78, he still goes full steam, giving his time to lead the Cavaliers Big Band, the Bob Barr Community Band and play for all sorts of occasions.

Joey Cumming)

Columbus Community Orchestra, william E. Fry, Conductor, James B Mallard III, Assistant Conductor (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)