A Tribute to John Williams.
STORMQUEST is an interrelated and progressive suite of 16 pieces for "Young" Band of the 3rd Millennium. Spanning grades 1-3, the series is the first to be offered on CD-ROM with tailor-to-your-situation capabilities. Each piece, while exploring the sonic scape of a new frontier for "young" band also embodies a specific musical concept which is offered as a Teaching Strategy in the score notes.
More information about the STORMQUEST CD.
This paragraph as well as a representation of ALL the things STORMQuest is, has gotten many directors the
tools they needed! Here now, are the words of our colleagues:
"Mel, I'm listening to the Stormquest CD, and felt compelled to write of the incredible first steps in what is no doubt an amazing journey. If only there were words, my friend, to describe how each segment, each moment, each note is presented with amazing care and attention. Musical shadings, emotional phrase shaping, nuance, dissonance with a purpose, intensity, love. Every sense is jolted. And this is just the beginning! Can't begin to imagine where it will lead, but have a sense that the ride will be amazing. Your intro to directors is SOOO on point. If only. . . If only they will be musicians, educators and leaders of quality music education. Yes, bands can play this music. If only . . .Thank you for sharing the journey. Godspeed, my friend." -Don Jemella
"Stephen, Last year we rendered The StormQuest, Journey Through Shadowood, and Time in the Balance. This year (February 7th actually) my band is preparing Revenge of the Darkseekers, Courage at the Wall of Fire, The Search for TrueFire, and Forbidden Fortress.Your pieces have helped me "push" my students toward a higher level of musical awareness." -Al Homicz 7th 8th Grade VIKING Band, Upper Merion Area Middle School, PA.
"Steve: Rehearsed By Love Compelled... This piece should be played by EVERY junior high and high school band in the country. It is one of the most *musical* pieces at that grade level I've ever heard! I thought maybe the high school kids wouldn't respond to the STORMQUEST stuff so well, thinking they were beyond it. That has not been their reaction at all, as I'm sure you know from other experiences with other bands! *I* wasn't sure (I have to be pretty solidly convinced of things, seeing and hearing on my own) until I started working on the pieces. Your music doesn't *sound* like other music they've played, from inside the ensemble as well as from the front. It's making them listen to each other more already. We read the last section of "Aurora" first, since that's what we had duplicated first. It went very well at the first reading, and is very accessible technically while requiring listening and musicality. We'll read the rest on Monday. More and more, other things in a school setting interfere with our teaching. We need music that will involve the student and help them push the distractions out of their minds. I always tell student teachers that their most challenging task as educators is to choose appropriate literature for their bands. Your music is doing all of that. Keep up the good work!" -Jeff Waggoner, Music Department Chair. Hinsdale Central High School
"Courage... at the Wall of Fire earlier ended up being one of the most profound and touching selections, on a program that included music by Beethoven, Mozart & Holst. Your piece touched the audience in a way that I can't describe. I was left breathless. It was possibly the best moment I've had as a director for the past 6 years." -Scott Hensil, Orchestra Director, Central Bucks School District, PA
"As you know, at the middle school level, it is often hard to get the students to enjoy slower music. We rehearsed Truefire! about three days. Amazingly, the last two rehearsals, several kids have been requesting it! A true compliment to you and your music. Besides sensitivity and truly playing with heart, we have learned some valuable technical aspects. Most of my flutes, heck all of them, have never played those upper register notes in a piece. Also, the band now understands music in threes spread over not only quarter notes but half notes and eighth notes. Concepts through Music!!!! Amazing!!!!! It's much better than saying 'Line 83', and lets be excited about it." -Eric Wells, Kansas City, Missouri
"Stephen, Yesterday we played Forbidden Fortress at junior high band contest. Parents told me afterwards that the judges were standing up, trying to figure out what various sounds coming from the percussion section were. When the piece was over, the audience went totally crazy, applauding and shouting. I have been to numerous contests over the past eleven years of teaching and have never had a response like this to a band, or to a piece of music. Both the judges and other band directors who heard our performance were asking, 'where did you find that piece?' Our students were very excited about both their performance of the piece and the reaction that they received. Thank you again, for writing music like this that takes away any stigma from the phrase,'junior high band music' ". -George Caton, Havana Junior High School, Havana, Illinois
"Stephen, For our third concert in a row our bands (Middle School) played some of your music from STORMQuest. Not only did I get a lot of music for my money, but the kids love it. They keep asking for more! You got their attention last year when they played Under Cover of Night & Into the Light of Day, then they sat up straight when the STORMQuest came. You won their respect with Defenders of Truefire, but tonight you won their HEARTS when they performed TRUEFIRE! The soloists were wonderful. Steve, these kids were so inspired with what you wrote. They have grown from section members into soloists right in front of our eyes. Again, I thank you for your spirit, your focus, and your insight. Our students are changed forever. Thanks." -Steve Dingledine, Muncie Indiana
"My experience in adjudicating and listening to young bands today is that most are attempting literature which is beyond their grasp, or they are playing watered down arrangements of some kind. Steve's STORMQUEST collection is the perfect answer. The Music is challenging, but very playable. It invites, no, INSISTS on emotional/musical expression. It is original and makes young bands sound great. Steve... I really love your new STORMQUEST collection. I recommended it to at least a dozen bands at the last concert festival I judged in Massachusetts. Godspeed." -Larry Lang, Commander/Conductor US Air Force Heritage of America Band
"The chance for my students to work on your music has turned them from note players to young musicians. They must play with the heart if their music, your music, is to be understood. Because of your music we now have three French horn players and two keyboard players that we didn't have at the beginning of the year. I am very proud of them and grateful to you for this life changing opportunity. Thanks again." -Richard H. Lewis, Hoover Middle School Band
"We also listened to, and then read through TRUEFIRE! in 8th grade band. In my career, as short as it may be, I have never had a group of students so excited about playing a piece of music. They did not have the music in front of them as they listened, and, as you may have guessed, they said 'We won't be able to play this.' But then, I put it in front of them, and barring all of the sight-reading jitters that we are still working on, they really could! After the cut off, they were silent... then they looked around at each other and broke out into a thunderous 'YEAH!'. I can hardly wait!" -Susann Hubbell Blair, Ohio
"I need to tell you that you have a new fan club at Central Cambria High School. In one short day, my band program was rejuvenated by your music!! I passed out Courage... at the Wall of Fire and Revenge of the Darkseekers and minutes later the band was on fire! The sounds that they were getting, not only excited me, but more importantly, excited them. A student raised a hand and proclaimed 'Let's scrap the rest of the folder and do all 15 movements of STORMQUEST'! Of course, as much as I would have liked to do the same, it was not educationally sound! We performed those two movements at our Winter Concert, to great acclaim from parents and community members." -Tom Nagy, Edensburg, Pennsylvania
"Your music has made a profound effect on my middle school students. Playing the STORMQuest selections has brought out musical expression that didn't exist before. Just got home from our middle school concert. We did STORMQuest with our 8th grade band. The audience went nuts! On the same program we did C, H, S and S. The audience was polite. When we played your Music they felt the energy. The kids feel it too. Way to go! You have done it again! We all can't wait to explore the rest of STORMQuest" -Steve Dingledine, Muncie Indiana
"Great musical works that must be performed with true passion. I really like that challenge!" -Shirley M. Robertson, Oxford, IN
"Steve, Your deal for STORMQuest sounds like a deal that is hard to refuse. What band director of any sensibility can refuse great music which is connected to a clear pedagogical vision? What school administrator, holding the purse-strings can refuse the logic of thinking large-scale and long-term? Fascinated by the CD/CD-ROM idea. How does it work? The idea of customizing music for young bands in order to give them the best possible musical experience, is something that many of us who write have always tried to find the time to do. Making this kind of thing accessible to ALL band directors is a great mission." -Scott Rogers, Norway
"First I was just amazed at the synchronicity of arriving at work today (11/3/97) to the amazing sounds of STORMQuest, then I was blown away by the level of freakish focus and detailed creative insanity within the package, and now I lay here rendered useless by the overpowering amount of material and cutting edge nature of the Web Page (the sauce is on the stove and I'll take TWO of those cats!)." -JP Kiernan, Bergenfield, New Jersey
"I would like to tell you how pleased we are with SCENES FROM STORMQUEST. The writing, the pace, the many emotional levels, and the textures all make up an exciting and educational score. It truly is a 'quest' as we discover the many messages brought forth by the Music. After winning the state championship in 1996, I was concerned about how I could take my students to a new level - have them reach for a more lofty and worthy goal. You have made that possible. The kids at Mercer County High School have been truly blessed with an unforgettable experience." -Rob Bryant, "newly converted STORMDirector", Mercer County, Kentucky
"Dear Steve, I just thought I would write and tell how much the students are enjoying playing Integrity's First Stand. They wanted something different and they got it. We will definitely be using more of your music in the future. I really want to get Stormquest for our middle school bands. Thanks for innovation." -Mark Vittetoe, Horton High School
"Dear Steve, Last year my 7th grade band played STORMQUEST. We played these at home concerts and city wide band festivals. The kids were excited by the music, the parents were very impressed, and everyone loved the music. I have found a large drawback though -- my band members DON'T WANT TO PLAY ANY OF THE TRADITIONAL BAND LITERATURE!! They could play STORMQUEST all class, all week, all year! Thanks for the great music!" -Walter Coker, Gruening Middle School
"Steve, There are several things that I'd like to say. First, after months of having your 'music' sit on the shelf, I finally passed out several sections of STORMQUEST. Wow! Everything that other directors have been saying is true. My kids love your music. We are currently working on Time in the Balance, and while challenging, it's been real fun to watch them work! I was at the Naval School of Music last spring and caught your SCALEWorks clinic. I use the knowledge that you gave us to teach scales now, and it is highly successful. Thanks for everything!" -Jim Paxton, Andrew Lewis M.S. Band, Salem, Virginia.
SOME COMMENTS FROM THE KIDS!
"Hi! My name is Janice Makinen and I am in 8th grade. My Wind Ensemble (Director; Jeff Fudale) is playing pieces from STORMQuest, and we love it!! I am the first chair French horn and the music is phenomenal! It gets our entire band excited and we look forward to playing it everyday. We'll be playing it at contest, and I know that the judges will be blown away. Your music is kind of like an escape from the entire other music world. Its like a whole different species of music, and I like a change like that. I really appreciate all the hard work that you put into these pieces. Please Write Back!" -Janice Makinen, 1st Chair French Horn, Roehm Wind Ensemble, Berea, OH
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." Confucius "I know that you are likely busy with more E-mails than one could 'Shake a stick at' so to speak, so I'll make it brief. I merely wished to state that your pieces are a welcome refreshment from the casual ones with predictable lines and unexciting rhythm. So far we've played Stormquest, Revenge of the Darkseekers, and The Search for Truefire. Being the only Baritone Saxophone within the band... it is difficult to be excited with the music, in that it is usually slow half note or quarter note harmonies that have little power behind them, little purpose. But I am happy to be able to say that I am proud to play a series of music that has a homish welcoming feel to all instruments, where each has an important message, and not just part of the chord. And each day I've tried harder. There's a concert Tuesday, I hope the audience enjoys The Search for Truefire as much as we have, with a great Alto Saxophone solo and Flute solo, I doubt they can do little less than sit at the edge of their seat anticipating the next well crafted measure." -Stephen Morgan, 8th Grader, Berea, OH
"Hey Steve... May I call you Steve? You're music brings meaning into so many people's lives, including mine. Anyway, I just thought that I'd tell you how much your job means to us 'common folk' Keep up the good work and like you've always said...'Godspeed' Thank you for the awesome music. Sincerely," -Natalie Davis, 8th Grade, Roehm Middle School