I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend 6 sharpening
students to read and write any rhythm in the span of one lesson
period. This was even done once with 5th graders, across 2
with Rhythm Readers, I suggest considering
Function Chorales & SCALEWORKS!
or better yet, The Teaching Suite
involving MMMS Curriculum by MATT
Well, Ladies & Gentlemen, this may be the only thing you need read. I am deeply grateful to Glenn and to all those dedicated Teachers who have offered not only their words of support, but their hard work in making a new reality.
"Ok, Steve. It took me a few days, but I got it. The music in the STORMFilms™ opening tutorial is JIDAI. And please, feel free to use this testimonial.
Steve, I've been using your methods for a few years. But not to the extent of recent, mostly inspired by the STORMSummate. If you have the chance to go watch Steve work, or work with him, do it. You WILL be transformed; you will be energized and refreshed and so will your students.
As of this year, ALL students in grades 7-12 know all 15 major scales, thanks to SCALEWORKS™ and the process included therein. We practice 15 scales almost daily. The days we do not are spent working on specific scale challenges, be it playing all flats, all sharps, 3 flats and 3 sharps, or 4 and so on and up. We are exercising more creativity in our scale work than ever before, and it is showing up in the language used in the concert & jazz ensembles.
The FUNCTION CHORALE™ work we do has added a new dimension to our rehearsing as well, adding transposition at sight, intonation and tuning, creativity and musicianship to the warm-up process. No longer is warm-up "routine" (a DANGEROUS notion in music!). Using the FUNCTION CHORALES™ as a blueprint, we have explored the concepts of modality, poly-tonality, chord changes and improvisation, transposition, musicianship and creation. Student musicians now are beginning to develop a keen sense of musical reasoning. In one instance, a group of 7th graders and I played a Function Chorale as a trumpet quartet. The resultant tones were absolutely fantastic.
Using RHYTHM Readers™ as a basis for musical thought in both ensemble and classroom music has really spurred the creative process and understanding of music. Students in 7th Grade Music have taken rhythmic dictation including examples in alternating meters: 5/4, 3/4, 6/4, and 9/8, 7/8, 5/8 and 3/8, and averaging scores of 80 or better.
At the University level, we are just beginning our journey, although the foundation was laid before them a year in advance. In a University that is NOT a music school, the concert band has begun to approach tuning and intonation the same way that a professional ensemble does, and is beginning to tackle similar challenges.
The use of PAD Bass, which until this year was used only in my public school job, and not in its ideal way (until this year) has transformed the sound of the ensemble. When tuning a 7-8 band from the bottom up, we hear such overtones that flutes can be heard... when none are playing. The smiles and giggles that happened in the flute section were immediate; all because the overtones that THEY would play were already sounding! This is the exact same approach to tuning that professionals use: listening for colors in the sound they want to hear. Yes, Resonant sound IS within the grasp of young students.
In short, the approaches used are NOT gimmicks that force the students into a corner to think a certain way. It is an approach that, when given creative application and careful thought, brings out of the students the inner musician that is inside of everyone. There are NO flashy pictures, no cartoon characters, no merchandising or silly pre-packaged and contrived, meaningless pandering. It all rests on the shoulders of the creative educator to bring about; but trusting in the music that Steve writes even into "exercises" brings about a transformation like no other music. Be prepared for "lesson books" to take a back seat to musicianship and creativity. PS: I tried desperately to keep it to-the-point; there is so much more...
Then there is the Music. This Music is completely different from the typical "band music". It has depth, meaning and connection both to other works and the world; indeed the Universe around us. I have been approached after concerts where your Music in on the program by audience members (lately that's nearly every concert I have the privilege of conducting) who always allude to the same idea: they feel the Music very clearly. One audience member told me it made her toes curl and that she could not believe that these were 7th and 8th graders. Another said, "I laughed, I cried, I felt it all."
THIS is why people go to concerts; THIS is the purpose of all art: to make you feel, think and react, and to take those lessons and apply them to yourself. There is a definite lesson in all of Steve's Music that does lift one and give hope.
There is an energy created by his Music and the pedagogical approaches necessary to fully realize it. Each ensemble takes on that energy with tremendous drive.
There is a very interesting video on YouTube where John Corigliano is discussing the role of the composer in an address to the Pittsburg Symphony board, and how the symphony orchestra has evolved over the years. According to Mr. Corigliano, the contemporary orchestra dates to Mahler's time. There are no saxophones presently on consistent payrolls; and nearly no electronics used at all.
In contrast, Steve's Music, looks forward. He has, with the use of PAD Bass, voice sounds, harp sounds (most schools I know do not have harp players, so most will need to synthesize them), and recently, the innovative use of video, creating new forms entirely, in such works as LAST WORLD STANDING & THAT WE MIGHT LIVE, to pre-recorded sounds as in OUR TIME as a SONG in the UNIVERSE and The UNIVERSE BELOW broken ground and explored areas not explored by "commercial" composers.
From its inception, with part distribution on CD-ROM, STORMWORKS has been ahead of the curve by a good decade. This is the breath of fresh air needed in todays music world. With arts organizations beginning to experience financial difficulty, and so many classical concert goers having "white hair", it is now left to the younger generation to become supporters of the arts. Music with meaning (such as Stephen Melillo's) does much to create this future audience. His is Music for its own sake, not created to fill a contractual need or pre-determined output with specified borders and boundaries." Glenn Roberts, Lisbon Central School & St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
- I was at the conducting symposium in Greeley and saw you
present - it was inspiring to say the least. I purchased the
ScaleWorks, Rhythm Readers and Function Chorales (an investment)
and have begun using the ScaleWorks with my 8th graders. The
process is incredible! After introducing the concept Tuesday,
practicing, and reinforcing yesterday, one of my weakest players
was able to construct and play C# Major - flawlessly. The
class sat in shocked silence before erupting in cheers. He
left yesterday feeling like a king and I left knowing that
any student can have success in music."
"I have never left a professional conference so inspired,
excited, or energized. So much of what we see as music educators
is "same old, same old," or slight variations on
the techniques used to teach music to our grandparents. Seeing
you teach in such a different mode, without holding any knowledge
or passion back was a breakthrough for me, more valuable in
many ways than some graduate courses I have taken. I know
that my students see a passion in me that they have not seen
in a long time. Thank you so much for the inspiration and
guidance!" Justin Mavity, Laredo Middle School
"Hi Stephen - I recieved your teaching tools DVD recently, and have been using your methods in all of my classes. I cannot believe how much I am able to teach in such a short period of time. There is no way that there is a more efficient way to teach than your methods. I have always dreamed of the day when I would be able to teach music without spending hours of rehearsal time re-teaching rhythm, reminding students of fingerings, and re-explaining key signatures." Nathan Beutler, Sidney Public Schools, NE
"Thanks! Your music and mission. The voice with which you speak has truly been and will continue to be an inspiration to me. It has reminded me of what is true, right, noble, and noteworthy about what we do and WHY we do it. No words could suffice to describe what an inspiration, motivation, and yes... sometimes even a kick in the pants it has been." Larry Barnett, Teacher
from Waynesburg College, PA:
"Music has been my life. I’ve held the upper chairs
in flute sections and was section leader of my high school
band. I can play a variety of instruments. However, the Stormworks
Suite caused me to see music and its theory in a totally different
way. I’ve never taken a music theory class, but now
I can transpose music and play 15 major scales. Stephen Melillo’s
teachings have changed music for me. More importantly, it
has changed my life. Being able to read and understand music
better has re-inspired me to write music. I gave up composing
due to my lack of music theory knowledge. All I can say is
“Thank you!” Stephen Melillo’s Teaching
Suite is priceless and will affect yours and your students’
lives drastically…and permanently." Heather
Bryner, Flute/Piccolo, Freshman, Waynesburg College
"Steve Mellilo’s work is without a doubt the bright
future of music education. Many students create mental barriers,
believing that music theory and technique is beyond their
reach. These concepts are very intimidating to students, so
they don’t want to learn it. Furthermore, theory is
often over-looked within our schools. Steve completely breaks
these barriers and makes learning not merely attainable, but
surprisingly easy. With Steve’s method, ANY student
can succeed." Jesse Maxwell, Trumpet. Freshman,
"Scaleworks, to be specific, has helped
me a great deal. I now have a much greater understanding of
the sharps and flats. With the scale sheet, I can see the
arrangements of sharps or flats in a scale and know exactly
how to manipulate the notes for any given scale."
Steve Zak, Euphonium, Junior, Waynesburg College
If every music class used Stephen Melillo’s teaching
tools as a starting point, development and understanding of
musical theories and ideas would increase exponentially and
endlessly…guaranteed!" David Call, Percussion,
Freshman, Waynesburg College
"Steve Melillo is a mentor teacher for me! He constantly
encourages me to reach farther than I initially believe possible.
Our music program at Waynesburg does not currently have a
music degree. After our ‘non-music majors’ were
connected with Steve’s Scaleworks, Rhythm Readers,
and Function Chorales, their understanding and level
of engagement was combustible…off the charts! I started
using the Teaching Suite this past spring term. The financial
investment in this program is minimal in comparison to the
rewards for our students. I have literally overheard my students
explaining scales and rhythms to their friends on campus –
these are the same students who began the year saying, “I
can’t really count,” and “What’s a
triad?” They are now saying, “Oh, that’s
just music in threes,” and “Can you go through
the section again, because I missed my leading tone.”
Our goals are now MUSICAL GOALS! With my summer preparation
time, I can’t wait to get my former students back in
the fall, as well as introduce the incoming freshman class
to these amazing methods, just to see how far we can go. As
Steve would say, “Let’s Find Out!” Dr.
Ronda DePriest, Waynesburg College, PA
the DVD Teaching Suite Today. Spent my planning time going
over the DVD. My freshman band class walked in and it was
guinea pig time! We are a little country school in the rural
part of Georgia and the greatest weakness of our band is its
reading skills. My freshman freak out at new rhythms and are
afraid to play. After spending time with them on the Rhythm
Readers we started reading rhythms immediately from
a very complex Grade V piece with no effort! I can't wait
to spend more time on this with all of my kids! Thanks Steve!"Jarrett
Farrell, Worth County High School
having confidence in your system and my kids, we sight-read
a piece on the concert last night and they did great. I am
so proud of my kids and honored that they learned your system
so well. It works!!! And scales? Grades 7-12 know all of their
scales and can play them chromatically. We even made a 10
push-up bet that I couldn't teach them to play all of them
in less than 15 minutes. 11 minutes in 7th grade,
8 in 8th grade. 9 for my high school. Your system is incredible."
Stacy Briggs, Indiana
Steve, I just finished a rehearsal and had to email you. I
took over an elementary band program this year. The previous
director taught everything by rote. Needless to say learning
the new concert music was rough at best. I have been persistent
about not using rote teaching and insistent about using
Rhythm Readers. At first the kids were very resistant
to this new method. The sixth grade just finished rehearsing
a section of a piece with complex 8th note/8th rest patterns
and multiple parts. Twice through and they had it!! They are
very excited and I am much happier!! Thanks for the great
materials and ideas!!" Jeff Kitzman Elementary
Bands School District of Cudahy
Steve,there were really funny and great things with your pieces:
I did "Time in the Balance!" with
my youth-band, the kids are about 12 and 13 years old. I wrote
a 20/8 measure on the board and explained the rhythm "ta-mh-mh-ta-mh-mh"
and so on... and the kids could play the piece!! That was
unbelievable for me!! The next concert of this band is at
the end of November, but "Time in the Balance!"
is for the concert in January. But the kids don´t want
to play the pieces for November-concert - they want only play
this "cool new piece"!! Thank you!" Andreas
I just wanted to write and thank you again for all that you've
contributed to the music ed world. Between your methods and
those of our friend Sir Edward Lisk, this
has been a truly remarkable year for my bands! Less than three
weeks into my daily rehearsals and the groups are tuning so
well that they're getting the overtones to sound! I've been
rendering By Love Compelled...
with my 9th grade band. The levels of teachable music are
astounding. I even took your suggestion about relating the
music to the literature the english classes are reading. When
I told them this music was "heroic like Atticus Finch"
(every 9th grader just finished the book) the sound clicked!
So thanks again for everything. And be on the lookout for
a PO from Lower Merion HS for Escape
From Plato's Cave - I can't wait to turn my advanced wind
ensemble onto the same piece that introduced me to the world
of stormworks! Sincerely", Aaron Datsko, PA
Melillo, My goodness! It's been about two weeks since I started
using the Function Chorales
and ScaleWorks in my band classes/rehearsals, and I am BLOWN
AWAY!!!!! I am a brand-new teacher straight out of college.
I have struggled a bit to find different techniques that work
for my students, but your model for ScaleWorks
was so excellent I hit one out of the park right away (not
that I won't go back and refine, of course). My students absolutely
LOVE the function chorales--they keep asking
for "the next one". We are moving quickly but cautiously,
striving for precision in each. We are making effective transfers
into the literature with these--we are doing an arrangement
of Shenandoah, an obvious transfer, but I'm noticing things
like a sense of direction on long notes and listening "vertically"
for intonation in ALL of our playing, up to and including
our spring musical. As for ScaleWorks, BRAVO!
My students LOVE the method and process. I presented the information
as you do on your DVD (an excellent model), and my students
eyes got to be the sizes of dinner plates--they were drawn
in within minutes. "Sing and Fing" has become a
regular part of my vocabulary--for scales, but also chorales
and difficult passages. I had my doubts about the "stopwatching"
(because I'm a brand new teacher and know everything, right??),
but I did it and it had its intended effect--some harmless
competition amongst the students that creates a sense of "urgency"
in order to not have the lesson become stagnant. My next project
is Rhythm Readers--I
can't wait!! My only regret is I did not use this source sooner.
Bravo! Best," Keith Roeckle, Ridley High School,
have been following your music for about 3-4 years now, ever
since I first heard it and subsequently did a research project
for a Wind Band Literature course. Over the course of that
time, I have tried Function Chorales, STORMQuest, and most
recently Fountainhead and the
Let's Find Out DVD. The music is very powerful, and
very playable by ensembles at ALL levels. I teach grades
5-12. Last year I began making full use of the
PAD Bass concept with Time in the Balance, and liked it
so much that I use it now with ALL literature, and can't imagine
not having it. Scaleworks and Rhythm Readers
are without a doubt 2 of the most important components of
my teaching repertoire. At ALL levels, they have proven
time and again to be valuable, reliable, and meaningful to
the KIDS as well as opening my eyes to see some things that
I always knew were there, but never really noticed. The scores
are LARGE size, which makes for very easy reading. I am especially
moved by Steve's personal signature on every score and CD
ordered. The kids really enjoy playing this music because
it touches and speaks to them, and they feel that they are
touching and speaking to their audience in a more direct manner.
Who says sixth graders can't learn 15 scales? In short, I
have been transformed by this approach, and my students have
also. Thank you." Glenn Roberts, Lisbon, New York
that it would take some time, but we a finally seeing the
results of starting our kids in the "STORMMethod" right from
the time they start playing. We see our beginners twice a
week for 30 minutes. They can all play a chromatic scale from
low concert E to Ab in the middle of the staff, and most of
them can write all the notes and fingerings in for their instruments.
grades know all 15 major scales by the end of the year, and
a 2 octave chromatic scale, and our 8th graders can play all
15 scales two octaves where possible, with the arpeggio and
thirds, and start learning their minor scales. The kids work
out of the rhythm readers, and play the function chorales.
The 8th graders are going to start writing some of their own
chorales by the end of the year." Roy Maxwell
the important stuff. My kids think that I've completely lost
all common sense. We've been sharpening our ax and (here's
a news flash) IT WORKS!!!! I've been energized. My kids, although
they think I'm crazy now, also know that they can do this
stuff. I set them up pretty good. I told them what they were
going to be able to do in a few minutes and most of them said "Yeah, right." Within a few minutes it was with great
pleasure that I said, "See, I told you so!" I wish
I would have video taped their faces. You could just see the
lights go on in not only my brightest students but more importantly
those struggling students. I could just see them say to themselves, "He's right. I CAN do this." Feel free to use me as
a reference. I'm ready to go do clinics about this method.
I'm a true believer. My email address if you would care to
post it is - firstname.lastname@example.org. THANKS and Godspeed to you!"
Wes Russell, Joliet, Illinois
often, we are caught in the daily grind of deadlines, tension,
and frustration, occasionally interrupted by brief fleeting
moments of beauty, energy and order. Stephen Melillo offers
a philosophy as well as a "greater meaning" to us all in the
form of musical composition as well as fundamental approaches
to music in general. A comprehension of these two things has
helped me to better understand myself and the greater purpose
behind what I have chosen to do with my days. As a result,
my days are filled with beauty, energy, and order, occasionally
interrupted by brief fleeting moments of deadlines, tension
and frustration. Musically, an intensive relationship with
Function Chorales (sharpen the ax.) in tandem with inspiring
literature has helped reduce the level of resistance within
my classroom and has shortened the distance between my mind
and the minds of my students. Thank you, Stephen." Anonymous
I am a believer in what you are doing! The passion, excitement,
uniqueness, musicality - and also fun, practicality and educational
worth to be found in your creative work is all quite impressive.
A very sincere and hearty thanks from me to you! During the
past several months I have been using your Function Chorales
in daily rehearsals with my students, and have found them
to be a significant and essential tool in my teaching. The
students have found them helpful and interesting, especially
for understanding balance and intonation issues across the
entire ensemble. I really believe that my students are better
ensemble musicians as a result of the versatile ways these
chorales can be used to help students understand scoring,
balance and intonation, as well as practical theory applications,
and transferring these specific concepts to the music we are
rehearsing. Function Chorales are an incredible innovation
and indispensable learning tool for me and my students. Thank
you! In addition, we have thoroughly enjoyed performing STORMWORKS!
Your writing is distinctive, beautiful and exciting! We look
forward to exploring many more of your unique compositions!
Sincerely." Steve Olsen, Eden Prairie High School, Minnesota
found the use of your Function Chorales invaluable in advancing
the musical independence of my students: listening, blend,
balance, intonation, phrasing, style, theory - they cover
it all - in all keys! They make the student's think! Bravo,
Steve!" Wayne Dorothy, North Dakota State University
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